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Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016 Tabled

Media Release - Thursday, 17 November 2016, Cassy O'Connor MP


Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens' Leader 

A private members' Bill to provide a safe, compassionate response to people experiencing agonising pain and suffering that can't be relieved through palliative care was tabled by Lara Giddings MP and I in the House of Assembly today.

This is the third dying with dignity Bill to be presented to the Tasmanian Parliament since 2009. 

The first, initiated by then Greens' Leader, Nick McKim MP, secured a total of seven votes - five Greens and two Labor MPs, including Lara Giddings.

In 2013, Lara and Nick co-sponsored the Dying with Dignity Bill 2013.  Drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, it was narrowly lost with the then Liberal Opposition voting as a single block against the reform.

On behalf of those Tasmanians this Bill is intended to assist and every Tasmanian who supports an individual's right to choose the manner and timing of their death, we hope it will be different this time.

We trust every individual member of the House of Assembly will feel empowered to vote with their conscience when this Bill is debated next year.

A compassionate and safe legal response to assist people who are experiencing agonising and unrelievable suffering, and to provide legal protection for doctors, is required.

Voluntary assisted dying is a fundamental human rights issue that most Tasmanians support.  In 2013, an EMRS poll showed 80% of people supported legalising dying with dignity in Tasmania.

It is a terrible and undeniable truth that there are Tasmanians who are forced to suffer through incurable, irreversible medical conditions against their wishes.  Some have and will take matters in to the own hands, choosing to die a lonely death because their suffering is intolerable and cannot be relieved by palliation.

We can do better.  We can and must provide a safe, compassionate legal framework for Tasmanians who are in this awful position.

People suffering agony as a result of a diagnosed illness that will lead to their death deserve to have access to dignified choices at the end of their lives.

The legislation Lara and I are co-sponsoring gives patients the choice, offers protection to doctors and clarifies the rights and responsibilities of the people involved.

Support for this reform is growing across the globe and in our own backyard. There are thirteen jurisdictions worldwide which have dying with dignity frameworks in place, including Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon.

Dying with Dignity in South Australia - regretfully - was narrowly lost by a single vote in the early hours of this morning.

It is our hope that elected representatives from across the political spectrum will put their constituents first and support a safe, legal framework for dying with dignity in Tasmania when this Bill is debated next year.

This reform is long overdue.