New push for euthanasia bill

THE co-sponsored Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be back on the table this year, two former political leaders have confirmed.

Former premier Lara Giddings said yesterday that she was still a passionate advocate for voluntary assisted dying and her co-sponsored private members bill with Nick McKim would be brought back to Tasmania’s lower house in the later half of the year.

Nick McKim

Nick McKim

The bill was rejected 13 to 11 by the lower house in October 2013, with politicians making a conscience vote.

Ten Liberals voted against the bill, as did former Labor MHAs Michael Polley, Brian Wightman and Brenton Best.

Ms Giddings said it would be interesting to see what happened with the ‘‘robust’’ and ‘‘much-needed’’ legislation with the new parliament.

‘‘We’ve got some new members and we don’t exactly know where they lie with this issue,’’ Ms Giddings said.

‘‘What I would certainly hope is that we have good debate in parliament.’’

Australian Christian Lobby Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said it didn’t show good democracy to bring the legislation back again so soon.

He said research always came to the conclusion that there was no way to create a safe euthanasia policy.

‘‘So why are we trying to keep pushing it,’’ Mr Brown said.

He said we should be focusing on palliative care and ‘‘not wasting our time going through work we have already been through’’.

A Greens’ spokesperson said more and more evidence had been put before parliament detailing the calls for voluntary assisted dying by patients since Nick McKim first introduced his Dying with Dignity Private Members Bill in 2009.

‘‘We also know from recent opinion polls that approximately 80 per cent of Tasmanians support voluntary assisted dying,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘The reintroduction of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, co-sponsored by Nick with Ms Giddings, will once again give hope to the many people suffering, and their loved ones suffering with them, and provide an opportunity for the parliament to act with courage and compassion.’’

The Liberals would not comment on the issue.

The voluntary euthanasia discussion follows the death of right-to-die campaigner Terry Pratchett this week.

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