ACT and NT assisted suicide bill fails to clear the Senate

Amanda Lyons

16/08/2018 12:37:29 PM

The bill, which would have allowed the territories to make their own decisions about assisted dying legislation, was narrowly defeated by two votes.

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Senator David Leyonhjelm said he is disappointed at the defeat of his bill, but has vowed to continue the fight. (Image: Mick Tsikas)

Senator David Leyonhjelm’s Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015 sought to enable the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory (NT) to decide their own legislation regarding euthanasia and assisted dying.
But, after two days of debate in the Senate, the bill was defeated by 36 votes to 34.
The NT became the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise voluntary assisted dying in 1996, but this was overturned by the Federal Government in 1997 through a bill introduced by Liberal backbencher Kevin Andrews.
Senator Leyonhjelm disagrees with this situation, believing the territories should have the right to make their own decisions.
‘It makes no sense that people living in the state of Victoria now have some control over the
manner in which they chose to die in the face of intolerable suffering, yet other Australians are
denied even having the chance to vote on such a critical issue,’ he said.
There was bipartisan support for Senator Leyonhjelm’s bill in the NT, and the Chief Ministers of the NT and the ACT took out a full-page ad in The Australian calling on federal senators to back it. However, these efforts were not enough to sway the votes of the Senate.
While Senator Leyonhjelm is disappointed that his bill was defeated, he has vowed to continue fighting for the issue, citing the fact that there is strong public support for assisted dying.
‘All Australians, no matter where they live, have the right to decide for themselves when it comes to end-of-life treatment,’ he said.
Senator Leyonhjelm also emphasised that the passing of the bill would not automatically guarantee legal assisted dying in either territory. This point has been underscored by the actions of two Federal Labor MPs with opposing views on the issue – Andrew Leigh from the ACT and Luke Gosling from the NT – who have co-sponsored their own private member’s bill on the same matter of restoring territory rights to legislate on assisted dying.
‘Both of us – and all our ALP territory colleagues – believe it's about territory rights,’ Dr Leigh said.

Assisted dying Territory rights Voluntary assisted dying


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