LEE and Christine Rush are the first to acknowledge the grief suffered by the families of the Australians killed in Kuta in 2002.
But the couple, whose 21-year-old son Scott has been sentenced to death by firing squad in Bali for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia, insist that it is never a bad time to speak out about the death penalty — bombing anniversary or not.
Mrs Rush described it as “extremely unfortunate” that the debate about the death penalty had turned into a “debacle” this week after Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Robert McClelland was widely criticised for pledging consistency in a Labor government’s opposition to capital punishment — whether for foreign terrorists or Australian drug smugglers.
The Rushs argue that executing the Bali bombers won’t deter others from carrying out terrorist attacks. “It’s extremely sad that 88 Australians lost their lives under terrorism, but regardless it is proven that putting someone to death doesn’t deter similar activities,” Mr Rush said.
Asked how he would explain his anti-death penalty stance to families of the Bali bombings victims, Mr Rush said: “It’s a democratic country. We’re lucky to be able to make our own decisions on how we live our lives. I respect other people for that reason; I wish they’d take the time out to respect my decision.”
The Brisbane couple have become fierce campaigners against the death penalty for anyone in the world, and say the Bali bombers should be given life sentences.
“We will persist until we get a change. This must never happen to an Australian kid again,” Mrs Rush said. The family is now waiting on the Constitutional Court in Jakarta to rule on October 30 whether imposing the death penalty for a drug crime is unconstitutional.