ACT VAD Bill debated

ACT VAD Bill debated

The bill proposing Voluntary Assisted Dying was debated on Thursday 16 May in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
 
The Canberra Times reported that Labor and Greens members have committed to support the bill.
 
Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee is quoted as saying “I fundamentally believe that every one of us should have the right to choose what is right for us”.
 
“Indeed, one could argue that the right to decide is the ultimate expression of the individual, which I believe is a core Liberal belief and so, on that basis, my personal vote is to support, in-principle, the introduction and establishment of a voluntary assisted dying scheme in the ACT.”
 
But Ms Lee said she had concerns about a future review, included in the legislation, which could examine whether the scheme should open up to people under-18 with decision-making capacity.
 
The Canberra Tims reported that Liberals James Milligan, Ed Cocks, Peter Cain, Jeremy Hanson and Elizabeth Kikkert will vote against the bill.
 
Labor’s Marisa Paterson said she was considering amendments to the bill to address a gap in cases where a person has gone through all the approval stages for voluntary assisted dying but lost capacity before ending their life. This would only be open to someone who meets the eligibility. Under the proposal, this person could elect a person to act as their voluntary assisted dying attorney and carry out their wishes.
 
Dr Paterson is not committed to moving the amendments, saying she wanted to consult the community about the proposal before making any decision.
 
Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne will move government amendments to make clearer the law’s definitions.
 
She said further amendments from other members had the potential to delay the implementation and the effectiveness of the bill, however, she said Dr Paterson’s possible changes may not effect this.
 
“Dr Paterson has today proposed an option which is considered and thoughtful and one which on the face of it does not seem like it would render a key element of the bill incoherent,” Ms Cheyne said. “However, while the principle is sound, I will be closely following the community conversation and advice over the coming weeks.”
 
If passed, the voluntary assisted dying scheme would come into effect on 3 November 2025.
 
Debate will resume during the next sitting week for the Assembly which is 2-5 June.

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