Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 June 2022) . . Page.. 1723 ..
being repealed, work is beginning behind the scenes. I have asked officials to begin undertaking a comparative jurisdictional analysis of how the states have legislated. Given that every state has passed its own scheme, we are well placed to learn from their experiences what the various schemes look like, what works and where we can improve. As we are surrounded by New South Wales, I have specifically asked officials to look closely at the New South Wales framework, passed very recently.
The comparative analysis will also be drawing from our own inquiry into end of life choices, as a starting point. This committee inquiry was the ACT’s most recent community consultation. It is important that we have genuine community input every step along the way. This work will inform a consultation paper to test some of the key assumptions and questions for an ACT scheme, ahead of a draft bill. We are putting in the legwork early, now, so that when we do have our rights restored we will be ready.
MR PETTERSSON: Minister, how does the ACT’s approach to voluntary assisted dying compare with the legislative processes of other jurisdictions?
MS CHEYNE: I thank Mr Pettersson for the question. Every state, every single state, has been able to get on with discussing with its communities how to progress a voluntary assisted dying framework, without having to ask the federal parliament for permission. Unlike our state counterparts, the ACT has been hamstrung by the outdated Andrews bill that prevents us from deciding for ourselves about whether and how to legislate for voluntary assisted dying. This law is compromising our democratic rights, and it may be inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations—our own human rights obligations. It is outdated, patronising and unconscionable.
The last federal government did all it could to stall, to ignore and to disregard the territory’s rights. Our own then senator Zed Seselja consistently failed to stand up for his constituents. I am relieved that the new federal government is listening to us and has said that it will progress a bill to right this wrong. However, I want to be clear that we will have a strong and robust community consultation process, just like every other state has done, when considering the development of these laws.
MS ORR: Minister, how can the community get involved in this issue?
MS CHEYNE: I thank Ms Orr for the question. The first hurdle is to remind federal parliamentarians that they need to restore our rights. We know that the vast majority of Canberrans support voluntary assisted dying, but we will need to have a debate about what Canberrans want that scheme to look like. This is a sensitive and complex issue that necessarily requires significant consultation and community debate. As mentioned earlier, I have already asked officials to start on the preliminary work so that we are ready to constructively begin the community conversation as soon as we are allowed. When that legislative bar is lifted, I welcome the community having their say.
This may well be an iterative process, and I would expect that any draft bill would be referred to an Assembly committee for further examination. While we are currently in a very preliminary stage, we will be engaging with the community closely as soon as