Death penalties had been part of the legal system of Australia since the British settlement. During the 1900s, crimes that could carry out a death sentence included burglary, sheep stealing, forgery, sexual assaults, murder and accidental murder. During the 19th century, these crimes saw about 80 people hanged each year throughout Australia.
Before and after federation, each state made its own criminal laws and death penalties.
No executions were carried out under the federal government. The passage of the Death Penalty Abolition Act 1973 saw the death penalty replaced with their life. Imprisonment is the maximum punishment.
The last execution in North South Wales was carried out on August 24, 1939. Capital punishment was abolished for murder in 1955 and for all crimes in 1985.
There were several outcries over Aborigines receiving mandatory death sentences for murder, leading to the passage of the Crimes Ordinance 1934 which allowed for discretionary sentences when both the accused and the victim were Aboriginal.
Queensland was the first state to abolish the death penalty in 1922. This came nearly a decade after Mr. Austin was hanged for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. Only one woman was hanged, Ms. Thompson, who was convicted of murdering her husband with the help of her lover. The Adelaide was the site of 50 hangings from 7 June 1861 to 24 November 1964. Number of executions also occurred at Mount Gambier Gaol and Port Lincoln Prison at different times throughout the 1800s.In 1976, the Criminal Law Consolidation Act was modified so that the death sentence was changed to jail for life. The last execution was in 1946, that of serial murderer and rapist Mr. Thompson. The death penalty was abolished in 1968. During his trial, the defense pointed out that the guard supposedly shot was much taller than him, but the bullet went downwards. A prison guard even admitted to shooting him. Victoria stopped capital punishment in 1975. In Western Australia, in the 1829 and 1855, hangings were performed at different places. This changed in 1856, with the construction of the Perth Gaol, which became the main execution site in one of Australia’s states. The last change was when what had been the Imperial Convict Establishment at Fremantle was first used for hangings.
Capital punishment stopped from the statutes of the state with the passage of the Acts Amendment (Abolition of Capital Punishment) Act 1984.
The first minor to be sentenced to death by a court in New Zealand was a Maori minor named Kihi, who was found guilty of murdering a white shepherd. However, Kihi died of dysentery before the sentence finished-. The first person to actually be executed was Wiremu Kingi Maketu, who was found guilty of murdering several people on Motuarohia Island, in the Bay of Islands. The people killed were the wife, son and adopted daughter of Captain John Roberton, who was accused of kidnapping Maori from the Chatham Islands—Maketu seemed to have been acting in revenge. He was sentenced to death by an all-white people jury (his defence had wanted a half-white, half-Maori jury) in an Auckland court. Maketu was executed in March 1842.
All but one of the 85 people executed were men; the sole woman was Minnie Dean, found guilty of killing children in 1895. All but one of the executions were of convicted murderers—the only exception was Hamiora Pere. The last person to be executed in New Zealand was Walter James Bolton, who was found guilty of poisoning his wife. That man was executed in 1957.