Ambivalent Abolitionism in the 1920s: New South Wales, Australia


In the former penal colony of New South Wales (NSW), a Labor government attempted what its counterpart in Queensland had achieved in 1922: the abolition of the death penalty. Although NSW’s unelected Legislative Council scuttled Labor’s 1925 bill, the party’s prevarication over capital punishment and the government’s poor management of the campaign thwarted abolition for a further three decades. However, NSW’s failure must be analysed in light of ambivalent abolitionism that prevailed in Britain and the US in the postwar decade. In this wider context, Queensland, rather than NSW, was the abolitionist outlier.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-09-01
Pages:33 to 42
Section:Special Issue: Death Penalty Politics
Fetching Scopus statistics
Fetching Web of Science statistics
How to Cite
Strange, C. (2022) “Ambivalent Abolitionism in the 1920s: New South Wales, Australia”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(3), pp. 33-42. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2474.

Author Biography

The Australian National University

Carolyn Strange is Head of the School of History at the Australian National University. She is a specialist in the history of criminal justice, punishment and gender. She has published extensively on the history of the death penalty in Australia, Canada and the United States. Her most recent books are The Death Penalty and Sex Murder in Canadian History (2020), and Discretionary Justice: Pardon and Parole in New York, from the Revolution to the Depression (2016).