Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2814..
does not conflict with my advance directive, as included in Living Will drawn up by the Canberra Branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society;
(8) Do the Guidelines for Health Care Professionals, prepared in 1999, still apply in the ACT;
(9) Does the Commonwealth Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 affect the provisions of the Medical Treatment Act; if so, in what way.
(10) Are explanatory guidelines available with regard to how people may refuse or withdraw their consent to medical treatment and can a copy be provided.
Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member's question is as follows:
(1) I have not personally received legal advice concerning the Medical Treatment Act 1994 or the Powers of Attorney Act 1956 other than that provided by my Department for this response. The legal implications of all proposed legislation are considered in the development of Bills that are presented in the Assembly as a matter of course. The Member may be interested in the current review of the Powers of Attorney Act 1956, which includes consideration of the legal implications of advance personal decision-making. This review is currently being undertaken as part of a Government strategy for the prevention of elder abuse. An Issues Paper on substituted decision-making that includes consideration of the implications of advance directives has been released as part of this review, a copy of which is enclosed. It can also be found on the Department of Justice and Community Safety website at: http://www.jcs.act.gov.au/eLibrary/papers/substituted_decision_making.pdf.
(2) No, I cannot say whether living wills or medical advance directives, as drawn up by the ACT branch of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, are acceptable as a direction in writing. I am not in a position to provide legal advice on specific matters, or comment on the accuracy of medical advance directives drawn up by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, or anyone else. The Medical Treatment Act 1994 provides for the making of a directive to refuse treatment in the form and under the circumstances set out in the Act. Sections 7 and 8 state that a direction is not valid unless it is set out in the accordance with the Act. A person wishing to ensure they have made a valid direction according to the Act should seek advice from a legal practitioner, based on more specific information. The Medical Treatment Act 1994, including all amendments, can be found at www.legislation.act.gov.au. It would also be wise to consult medical advice as to how to clearly express the particular treatment they wish to refuse.
(3) There is no specific provision in ACT law for the making of an 'advance directive'. The purpose of the Medical Treatment Act 1994 is to provide a means of refusing treatment nominated in the form provided. The form allows for the setting out of the particular kind of treatment the person is refusing. Any valid direction would have to comply with the requirements of the Act. If in doubt about whether a specific direction is valid under the Act legal advice should be sought.
(4) There is no 'clause 3B' in the Medical Treatment Act 1994. I can only presume that the question relates to section 5 of the Act. This section says that the Act does not affect any right a person has under any other Territory law to refuse medical treatment. It says the Act does not apply to palliative care and does not affect any right, power or duty that a health professional or any other person has in relation to palliative care. Finally it states that the refusal or withdrawal of medical treatment under the Act does not limit any duty of a health professional or other person to advise and inform the patient or the patient's agent or guardian; or to provide medical treatment other than the medical treatment that