On 31 July 1922, Queensland became the first state in Australia to abolish the death penalty—banana benders leading the way, as I'm sure you, Speaker, would always support. A little over 100 years ago, Australia took its first step towards abolishing the death penalty. Queensland led the other states and the Commonwealth parliament followed suit. Tasmania was actually next, with New South Wales being the last jurisdiction to abandon capital punishment in 1985. In fact, in 2010, the Australian parliament under Labor passed legislation to ban any reintroduction of the death penalty in Australia. This ensures that our nation never returns to this barbaric practice.
As a member of the 47th Parliament, I will continue to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty right across the globe. I'm proud to co-chair with Western Australia's Senator Dean Smith the Parliamentary Friends for the Abolition of the Death Penalty. We have members from all sides of politics who support the global aim of removing capital punishment. The parliamentary group supports groups and individuals around the world who are on the front line assisting people on death row. We also push for greater transparency, particularly in our corner of the globe.
To put our region in context, our close neighbour New Zealand abolished the death penalty after World War II—long after Queensland, I would point out. They might beat us in the Bledisloe Cup but not when it comes to abolishing the death penalty. Our closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, abolished the death penalty in January 2022. Well done to those parliamentarians! Capital punishment was first scrapped in PNG in 1974, but then was reintroduced in 1991. Thankfully no executions were carried out during the 30 years when the punishment was technically on the books. Capital punishment was abolished in East Timor in 1999, immediately following its independence.
I mentioned that New Zealand abolished the death penalty in 1989. Capital punishment has been abolished in Fiji. It abolished capital punishment for ordinary crimes in 1979 and for all crimes in 2015. Just last July, the Malaysian government announced their agreement to abolish the mandatory death penalty. All the best to the Malaysian parliament, particularly those parliamentarians who are fighting for the end of this barbaric practice. The Malaysian government actually tabled bills to abolish the mandatory death penalty; however, the parliament was dissolved on 10 October before the bills were passed. It's hoped that these bills will pass very soon. To those fighting for that: more strength to your arm! As you can see, many of our neighbours have followed Queensland's and Australia's lead in abolishing the death penalty.
When major developed countries like Malaysia remove it from their legal systems, this puts pressure on their neighbours—other countries in our region—to do the same. Some of our good friends in modern countries like Singapore are still executing people. Executions in Singapore are carried out by the long drop—that is, hanging—and they usually take place at dawn. Many of those recently executed and those currently on death row come from minority backgrounds with little language and with next to no access to proper legal assistance. Shockingly, in Singapore, you can be legally interrogated without any legal representation, a tactic which is anathema to common law countries like Australia. Imagine that someone has been found using an illicit substance—because that's what most of the people on death row have been charged with—and they're dragged into a Singapore interrogation room, possibly suffering withdrawal symptoms at the time. They have no lawyer. They have language issues. If you're fortunate enough to be given an interpreter, there is the real possibility of the interpreter not actually being able to speak your native tongue.
There is no-one there to support you or fight for your rights, as a good lawyer would. So, of course, there is every possibility of that person making statements that aren't factual which lead to a swift conviction and the death penalty. To further enforce the unfairness of the system in Singapore, those found guilty have their appeal rights limited, and access to legal assistance is almost non-existent. Many are forced to self-represent even when they've got language problems. To compound the lack of basic human rights, death row inmates are essentially cut off from the outside world in Singapore. They're held in single cells, not even being able to see other prisoners or have contact with their loved ones. Their one hour of exercise a week is also alone. They're not even allowed a simple phone call with family members, although that was relaxed during COVID. I could go on to talk about Scott Rush and the Bali Nine in Indonesia, but I'll leave that for another day, Speaker.