PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out challenging Tasmania's proposed voluntary euthanasia legislation should it come into law, saying it is a state issue.
Mr Abbott told 3AW radio on Thursday that he did not personally support euthanasia and thought it should be left between a doctor and their patient.
"There's no reason why doctors can't administer pain relief and we know that sometimes if you administer pain relief you do have the - I suppose - unintended consequence of shortening life," he said.
"But there is a world of difference between giving pain relief to someone who is dying and actually killing someone who would otherwise be alive."
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim, who co-sponsors the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill with Premier Lara Giddings, said he was in the rare position of agreeing with Mr Abbott.
"I don't agree with Tony Abbott very much but I do agree with him that this is a state issue," he said.
The legislation was tabled in Parliament on Thursday and has already drawn criticism from Tasmanian doctors. Mr McKim said a parliamentary inquiry into his failed first attempt to establish voluntary euthanasia laws in 2009 heard from palliative care experts that doctors did hasten their patient's deaths.
"Very well motivated and intentioned doctors, motivated by compassion, are administering medication in the palliative care wards of Tasmania in the full knowledge that it will hasten the death of their patient," he said.
"This is actually a really good argument for the legislation because doctors are hastening the death of their patients with no formal framework of protection for the patients."
Under the proposed legislation, euthanasia would only be open to people suffering an incurable terminal medical condition or a progressive medical condition that was causing them unrelievable intolerable suffering.
The person would have to make a verbal request to die, followed by a written request 48 hours later, a secondary corroborating medical opinion, and finally another verbal request at least seven days later.