We are very pleased that the new Tasmanian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016 has been moved in the Parliament, on 17 November. It will be debated after Parliament resumes in March 2017.
NEW 29 November – Summary of the new Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016.
The co-sponsors of the Bill are Lara Giddings, former Premier and now Labor MP for Franklin, and Cassy O’Connor, Leader of the Greens and MP for Denison. At this stage there is no Liberal co-sponsor but we are hopeful that one will join them before the debate.
The Bill can be accessed from the Parliament of Tasmania website here. It is a long and detailed Bill with specified requirements that must be met before legal assisted dying can be provided.
A detailed summary is being done and will be added to the website soon. In brief, if passed into law, it would allow a last resort option for some very seriously ill, competent adults, who have worked with their doctors to all make voluntary and informed choices to end intolerable and unrelievable suffering through an assisted death.
Assisted deaths can only happen when there is no reasonable chance of the person’s recovery, or any improvement in their medical condition or the relief of their suffering, as determined after a rigorous process. It also establishes a system which is doctor-safeguarded and safeguarded through an independent Registrar with significant powers and responsibilities to monitor and review all deaths and take action, including an annual report to Parliament.
The new Bill has been based on a thorough reconsideration of the Tasmanian 2013 Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill based on criticisms at the time (eg Law Society) and developments elsewhere, particularly Victoria, SA and Canada. The requirements and processes are closest to the thoroughly considered Canadian Supreme Court judgement in Carter vs Canada and the detailed proposal of the Canadian Medical Association in its policy document, Principles-based Recommendations for a Canadian Approach to Assisted Dying.
Last time a similar Bill was debated in Tasmania in October 2013, it was defeated at the Second Reading stage and was not debated in detail. It was supported by 12 MPs and opposed by 13. All 10 Liberal MPs voted against it as a bloc, even though they had a free vote. Since the last vote, there are 2 new Labor, 5 Liberal and 2 Greens MPs. There has also been a significant shift in attitude along with an increase in evidence in favour of legislation.
As part of the DwDTas campaign for the new Bill, the first of a series of Issues Papers is being sent to all MPs. The first one is Voluntary Assisted Dying – The Basics.