Assisted dying advocates shift focus to Australian government’s territory ban

Advocates for voluntary assisted dying say they will turn their attention to the federal government to strike down restrictions which prevent the ACT and Northern Territory from passing laws allowing euthanasia.

The backlash comes as 新南威尔士 became the last state to pass the laws. The historic voluntary assisted dying bill passed NSW parliament on Thursday after a months-long campaign.

The bill has been hailed by advocates, including the comedian and journalist Andrew Denton, who founded an expert advisory and health promotion charity, Go Gentle, in the wake of his own father’s death.

Denton said the legislation marked “a revolution in end-of-life care” and “evolution in our compassion as a society”, saying the push to legalise voluntary assisted dying had both started and ended in NSW, after a previous bill was defeated by one vote in 2017.

“Having seen what the opposition here was like five years ago we realised the only way it was likely to pass was if every other state had done it, and that was our strategy and that’s how it turned out to be,“ 他说.

After Victoria passed its laws in 2017, the other states followed. Queensland’s laws passed last year, making NSW became the final state to make voluntary assisted dying legal.

“We could see we weren’t going to get it done [in NSW] and that’s why we put all our resources into Victoria, which was the first state and that set the ball rolling,” Denton said.

Denton became invested in the campaign after he began researching the issue in the wake of his father’s death. He didn’t want to become “a celebrity voice” he said, and so spent a year travelling around Australia and overseas to learn more about the issue.

“I saw terrible suffering in a medical system which either couldn’t help people or wouldn’t help people,“ 他说.

Now Denton, like other advocates, said attention would turn to the federal government. The Northern Territory was the first jurisdiction in Australia to legalise assisted dying in 1995, but it was overruled by legislation passed by the Howard government in 1997.

自那时候起, both territories have been barred from enacting voluntary assisted dying laws. After the bill passed in NSW, 斯科特·莫里森, said he would not overturn the ban if the Coalition was elected.

“There are differences between territories and states, and that is under constitution, and we are not proposing any changes to that,” Morrison said on Thursday.

“That’s not our policy.”

The NSW bill – which passed 20 years after it was first debated in parliament – passed after both major parties allowed MPs a conscience vote, despite the premier, 新南威尔士州上诉法院决定联邦干预自由党预选的命运, and opposition leader, Chris Minns, both opposing it.

While Labor has also not committed to any change to the law, Anthony Albanese said on Thursday that he was “a big supporter of conscience votes”. 但, he said it would not be a priority if he was elected on Saturday.

“不. I’ll set the priorities according to the priorities I’ve put out during the campaign, not according to a press conference two days beforehand,“ 他说.

“My view is well known about territories and about the territories’ right to determine their own legislation. I’ve spoken about that in parliament and I’ve spoken about that in interviews.”

The MP who spearheaded the legislation in NSW, Alex Greenwich, urged both leaders to “learn from Dominic Perrottet” in allowing MPs to exercise their conscience on the issue in the federal parliament.

“Our focus must shift to federal parliament and it is incumbent on our colleagues in federal parliament to pass laws to allow the territories to be able to legislate for compassionate law reform,“ 他说.

“We are passing the baton to our federal colleagues to ensure people in the territories have the same end of life choices as now every state in the country.”

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