Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 3 August 2022) . . Page.. 2339 ..
to send out to their networks again and encourage people to spare a few dollars in honour of quite a spectacle that has turned heads around Lake Burley Griffin year on year and also in honour of Andy, our friend.
Federal government—territory rights
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (6.46): My comments tonight are about territory rights. Granting the ACT the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying is a fundamental issue of equity and democracy. For too long, Canberrans have been treated as second-class citizens. We live in one of the most progressive jurisdictions in the country. Overwhelmingly, Canberrans support our right to die with dignity and our right to legislate on the issue.
I am pleased to see today that the private member’s bill introduced in the federal parliament that would repeal the Andrews bill has been passed by the House of Representatives with overwhelming support. Repealing the Andrews bill will restore our right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying. This is about granting territories the same democratic rights as every other state in this country. All six states have now passed voluntary assisted dying legislation and yet we in the ACT Legislative Assembly are still prevented from even considering the issue.
This is about the democratic rights of Territorians, but it is also about dignity. Overwhelmingly, Canberrans want to be able to die with dignity. Polls have repeatedly shown that over three-quarters of Canberrans support voluntary assisted dying. However, a part of this debate that I have not heard discussed enough is the impact that the out-of-date Andrews bill has on our frontline workers. Our nurses, paramedics and police officers often have to deal with the consequences of our inability to legislate on the issue. I have heard from our officers that they often attend suicides in the ACT, which can be traumatic for both family members and police officers.
The AFPA yesterday came out in support of the legislation tabled in the federal parliament this week which will restore our rights to legislate on the issue. I thank the AFPA for their support. Anecdotal evidence from police officers shows that people with terminal illness are committing suicide due to their deteriorating health or diagnosis. These people have made a choice to end their suffering and die on their own terms. Those who make this choice should be afforded the same dignity and respect as other Australians. In certain situations, Canberrans should be able to make the choice to die safely and without negative consequences for their family and loved ones. If we can assist people in making this choice safely and prevent these suicides from becoming police investigations, then we should do so.
I am proud to live in one of the most progressive jurisdictions in the country and in a community where we respect each other and our right to make our own decisions regarding our health. I am proud to be part of a party that is prioritising this issue in