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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3670..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

to request that the life support machines which maintained her in what appeared to be a vegetative state be turned off.

Whilst that was, of course, a topic of huge controversy, as these issues often are due to the fact that they are seen as moral questions, a person contemplating the end of their life or their ability to withstand involuntary treatment such as electroconvulsive therapy would, perhaps, be advantaged by government support and legislative support if they could see that writing an advance directive might facilitate that the treatment that they received when they were no longer in a position to control it would be of the type that they would countenance at a time when they were in a position to control it. These are complex and vexed issues, but they are the issues that I believe our government should be engaged in and I do recommend that we have that public discussion and that future legislation deal with it.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (11.28), in reply: Again, I thank members for their support for this legislation. The Medical Treatment (Health Directions) Bill 2006 is a rewrite of the provisions of the Medical Treatment Act 1994 which deal with medical directions people can make for withholding or withdrawing medical treatment to them. The bill refers to such directions as health directions, which can be written or non-written.

The Medical Treatment Act currently provides for powers of attorney a person makes to authorise another person, an attorney, to make a decision on his or her behalf about withholding or withdrawing medical treatment to the person. This bill, however, does not provide for powers of attorney because the Powers of Attorney Bill 2006 now provides for enduring powers of attorney to allow the attorney to make such decisions.

Dr Foskey raised the issue of advance health directives. That is a matter which is of significant interest to me and, I think, also the Minister for Health. It is a matter which, I think I would be honest in saying, we are both very familiar with from our discussions with the mental health community sector, carers and sufferers of mental illness and it is a matter that will be given close consideration in the review of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act which has commenced.

That is the area where these matters need to be properly and significantly thought through and that will be the process for doing that work. I certainly look forward to the work of the consultation process and the working parties in discussions which are currently under way. Mr Speaker, I thank members for their support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (11.30): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 3 at page 3725].


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