TASMANIA could have the first euthanasia clinic in the country under plans announced yesterday to take advantage of proposed legislation.
Speaking from Switzerland, euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke announced plans to open a clinic in Hobart this year.
Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim will jointly sponsor a private members' bill supporting voluntary euthanasia this year.
Dr Nitschke said the McKim- Giddings bill was likely to lead to Australia's first state-based euthanasia legislation.
The Australian Christian Lobby state director Mark Brown said Parliament should not waste valuable time on an issue that had already been rejected less than 18 months ago.
"Days of parliamentary time have already been used debating euthanasia legislation which was rejected by the Tasmanian Parliament as recently as November 2009 by 15 votes to nine," he said.
However, Dr Nitschke said when the legislation was enacted people would need advice on how to use it.
"There is a need for a service to provide end-of-life expertise for those considering using the new legislation," he said.
"This is a specialist area where few doctors have expertise."
Dr Nitschke said the clinic would begin operation as soon as a suitable venue could be located.
Preliminary consultation with patients considering voluntary euthanasia would begin shortly afterwards.
Mr Brown said there were "well- documented problems" in designing euthanasia laws.
"It is not clear what new information the Greens can offer to allay the well-documented problems around designing euthanasia laws that don't result in the abuse of vulnerable people or the defunding of palliative care services," he said.
"Safeguards against abuse in euthanasia law have proven inadequate in protecting the lives of vulnerable elderly and sick patients, who are made to feel a burden by such laws."
Mr McKim's bill is still being drafted.