Compassion and respect

Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed in the Legislative Assembly

For the first time, a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has been passed in an Australian State Government House of Parliament.  Yesterday, 20 October, the Victorian Legislative Assembly (Lower House) passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in a vote of 47 – 37 – after a 26 hour all night debate for the final stage.  This was due to the many amendments moved by opponents, all of which were defeated.  We have congratulated our friends at Dying with Dignity Victoria, especially Dr Rodney Syme.  The result is the culmination of decades of their persistence, passion and hard work.

The Bill now moves to the upper house, the Legislative Council, where it will be debated within the next 2 weeks.  The numbers are likely to be very tight because of the make-up of the Council and the pattern of voting that occurred on this Bill as on the Tasmanian Bills and every other Australian Bill.

What the vote confirmed is that the biggest hurdle to voluntary assisted dying legislation is that almost all Liberal and National Party MPs vote as a bloc against all Bills while claiming they are all casting a ‘conscience vote’.  All Greens MPs and 86% of Labor MPs voted for the Victorian Bill, with only a few Right wing Labor MPs voting against it (including three former operatives for the Catholic-based Shoppies Union).  In a stark and mind-boggling contrast, 81% of Liberal MPs voted against it and 2 female Liberal MPs abstained.   Seven out of 8 (87.5%) National MPs voted against the Bill.

The gender pattern of the voting is equally stark.  Over 80% of female MPs voted for the Bill or abstained, including 18 of the 21 female Labor MPs and the sole National MP.  We are still waiting for the full list of the Liberal MPs who voted for it but at least one (and possibly 3) is female and Louise Asher, who abstained, had originally voted for the Bill at the Second Reading.

This begs the questions –

  • how is that the consciences of the majority of Liberal and National Party MPs are not troubled by people experiencing protracted intolerable and unrelievable suffering or having to take their lives through violent means to end that suffering,
  • how is it that it is the consciences of only the members of the Parties that promote themselves as supporters of individual freedom and self-responsibility that are not troubled by the terrible situation that some face at the end of their lives?
  • how is it that overwhelmingly the consciences of female MPs in all Parties are troubled but not those of male MPs?

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Dying with Dignity Tasmania

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Sandy Bay,
Tas 7006,
Australia

Tel. 0450 545167

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