Compassion and respect

Labor Conference endorses voluntary assisted dying legislation

The State Labor Party Conference has again endorsed Lara Giddings’ proposed legal framework for voluntary assisted dying.  This is very welcome and in step with repeated opinion poll findings that show an overwhelming majority of Labor voters support the kind of assisted dying law she is proposing.  (We expect the Bill to be moved later this year will be the same or similar to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2013.  We will be recommending some minor changes but support the main provisions.)

The EMRS poll we commissioned in 2013 found support by 84% of respondents who said their voting preference was Labor, above the total support of 80%.  What was also interesting was that this included 69% who strongly supported legal voluntary assisted dying provided by a doctor in certain circumstances.  This compared to 62% of the total who strongly supported it.  Read more …

What we would like to see now is the Liberal Party Conference, and Liberal MPs, in step with the broad community and Liberal voters’ support.  The EMRS poll found support of 74% among respondents who identified as Liberal voters and a lower proportion who strongly agreed – 55%.  This is still the vast majority, while lower than the total and for Labor voters and Greens voters (96%, 85% strongly supporting).  All we need for the next Bill to pass the House of Assembly is one third of Liberal MPs to vote for it.

Liberal MPs need to be asked why this isn’t happening either in Tasmania or in any other State that has had assisted dying Bills.  We don’t think MPs should vote for assisted dying legislation just because the vast majority of voters support it, but it’s not acceptable to be so out of step with them.  We think it means that their so-called ‘conscience vote’ is being treated like just another entitlement or perk of a privileged elite, behaving as if they are free to impose their personal ‘conscience’ on everyone else, and to use biased, one-sided and unreasonable arguments to justify it.   That’s what happens in a theocracy like Iran – but it’s not OK for democratically elected MPs to behave like that in a country like ours.

You can read the coverage of the Labor Conference vote in today’s three Tasmanian papers:


All report that the opposition to Lara Giddings’ motion was based on the usual fear-mongering claim that elderly people will (inevitably and definitely) be coerced into ending their lives and that “people will exploit their vulnerability”.  This claim has no basis in evidence or reasonable assumptions.  Those who claim the ‘elderly’ or people with disability or mental illness will be ‘coerced’ into ending their lives are first of all relying on crude, belittling and discriminatory stereotypes.  Also they always fail to mention that at least two doctors have to determine that all the requirements are met and that a demanding process is followed to ensure that requests are voluntary, well-informed and competent.


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