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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 1 Hansard (26 February) . . Page.. 234..


When my father passed away my mother was around. She was a nurse and that certainly helped in feeling like we were able to care for him, even though he did pass away in hospital in the end. With my mother, luckily my sister was a nurse, and that helped incredibly to care for her at home during her final few months.

It is hard to support families. It is difficult to make sure that the right care is available, particularly as the end of life really nears and the time for someone to pass away nears, and it is important that the health system is able to provide support to families. We know families more and more do not necessarily want a hospice; they do not necessarily want a hospital. In fact, most people do not want to die in hospital; they want to die at home with their loved ones around them. That is a really big challenge for us.

The euthanasia debate raises its head every time you talk about end-of-life care. I am happy for this Assembly to have a discussion around euthanasia. There are constraints within the self-government act. Perhaps that is the first discussion we need to have—that is, whether we should be constrained under the self-government act around euthanasia. But I do not see any reason why that should stop us working to promote end-of-life care and decision-making, respecting patient choices and making sure people have information about it.

In a way, because euthanasia always drowns out this debate and people have such strong views on either side of the euthanasia debate we lose what we need to do around respecting patient choices, listening to people and making sure that the end-of-life care that is provided to them, whatever form that might take—and that might take providing no treatment or providing treatment—is appropriate for their needs. Credit to Ms Porter for the work she has done and the personal investment she has placed in this. It is an example of Assembly members doing good work.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.14), in reply: I thank all of those who have contributed to the debate. I will respond to Mr Hanson's comments. You will note, Mr Hanson, that I have frequently reported that I went to Europe with an open mind to examine models of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide—I did say that—as many people had approached me after their own experience of loved ones dying or contemplating their own death and who wanted to have this choice. However, as I said to those people, "You need to know more about what you ask for," and many do not. I also went to explore palliative care and end of-of life directives, also to explore the journeys that these countries had gone on to get to the point they have and, importantly, to talk to people on all sides of the debate on these issues.

I specifically mentioned on my return—and it was reported in the paper—that quote from Woody Allen, "I have questions to all your answers," and that is certainly how I felt when I came back, and I still feel that. I went into this discussion with an open mind and to further discussion in the community. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I had from those I talked with—and I talked with more than 40 people who I had the honour to meet in Europe—was to not have a polarised debate as this will not help the community to have an open and helpful discussion, the open and helpful discussion that Mr Rattenbury and the Chief Minister have both described. Of course, this is the very type of discussion I hope we can generate rather than invite the type of polarised debate Mr Hanson generates by his comments with regards to my motion.


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