12 March 2017 update – WA may be joining the States with voluntary assisted dying Bills with the election of a Premier who supports voluntary assisted dying legislation. Read more … . We’ll keep you posted.
Go Gentle Australia also now has an up to date and informative page “Developments from around Australia”.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016 was moved in the Tasmanian Parliament on 17 November 2016. It is expected to be debated early in 2017. Read more.
In December 2016, the Victorian Government accepted the recommendation for assisted dying legislation made by the Parliamentary Committee inquiry into end of life choices. It has established an expert panel to develop a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill to be introduced later in 2017. A Discussion Paper has been issued for public consultation. To follow developments, we recommend the website of our Victorian colleagues at Dying with Dignity Victoria.
The NSW Parliamentary Working Group on Assisted Dying is a cross-party group of MPs. The group is expected to release draft voluntary assisted dying legislation soon. Read more. For up to date information, we recommend the website of our NSW colleagues at Dying with Dignity NSW and, if you’re on Facebook, the page for the group.
Voluntary assisted dying is a hot topic in the WA State election to be held on 11 March 2017. The Leader of the Opposition, Mark McGowan, has expressed his personal support. The Premier, Colin Barnett, has expressed opposition in a puzzling and meaningless statement: “it is an issue that is left to the family at the time and to the doctors … I think palliative care and relying on professional moral ethics and religious standards and ethics is the way to go.” Read more
A group of candidates is running a strong campaign for a very limited form of voluntary assisted dying. Former federal Member for Perth Alannah MacTiernan, now preselected for a state seat, Liberal MP and former Seniors Minister Tony Simpson and Greens MP Robin Chapple have said they will jointly draft the new law.
Independent Queensland MP Peter Wellington has attempted to get a Parliamentary Committee to undertake an inquiry with the same terms of reference as the Victorian inquiry into end of life choices. However, even that has been too much for his Queensland colleagues. The Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee has advised Mr Wellington “the committee did not reach agreement on whether to use its self-referral powers under the Act to initiate such an inquiry.” The committee is comprised of three ALP and three LNP members.
As the President of DwDQld, Sharon Tregoning, has said: “This was an opportunity for the health committee to show some leadership in researching this matter and make improvements that could benefit all Queenslanders, for the impacts of dying and death experiences are not solely the domain of the dying. This says to dying Queenslanders that the committee doesn’t care about you. They are meant to be our elected representatives, chosen to make decisions on our behalf, yet they could not even make a decision to proceed with a mere enquiry.” Read more
In the closest of votes, the South Australian Death with Dignity Bill 2016 was defeated in the SA House of Assembly in the early hours of 17 November 2016 (the day the Tasmanian Bill was moved). After a tied vote, the Speaker voted against the Bill. No other Bills are likely before the next State election due in 2018.
The issue for the Australian Parliament is the restoration of Territory powers to debate and pass voluntary assisted dying legislation if that’s the wish of the democratically elected Parliaments and communities in the Northern Territory and the ACT. These powers were removed by the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 in a disgraceful action by the Federal Parliament to destroy the NT Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. Several attempts have been made to restore the powers but none have been successful.
On 16 February 2017, a Second Reading debate was resumed on the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015. It is a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Senator Leyonhjelm. Second reading speeches can be read here. Support was expressed by Senators Ian McDonald, Derryn Hinch, Pauline Hanson, Richard di Natale, and Katy Gallagher.