I have decided to publish some of my writings that have previously been published in other media. The following letter appeared in The Australian on 10 October 2007.
I find it deeply distressing that Kevin Rudd so quickly criticised the comments of his foreign affairs spokesman on the issue of capital punishment.
Robert McClelland was right to stress the importance of Australian opposition to capital punishment in all instances, including when it is applied to terrorists ("Save Bali bombers: Labor", 9/10). The death penalty is a barbarous act that cannot be condoned by a civilised society in the 21st century.
It’s hypocritical to actively seek clemency for all Australians facing capital punishment while supporting the death penalty for certain foreigners. The Howard Government has adopted this approach and it has hindered efforts to save the lives of Australians facing the death penalty overseas. Foreign governments correctly highlight the inconsistency in our position. Rudd’s repudiation of McClelland’s comments represents bipartisan support for this flawed policy.
A bipartisan retreat from the previously held policy of unequivocally opposing the death penalty is damaging to Australia’s image as a protector of human rights in the international arena. I’m sure that Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of Rudd’s personal heroes, would share this view if he were alive today.