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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3062 ..


I do not think it is right that we have been stopped by people from all over Australia from determining our own laws in this way. It is denying us our democratic rights. Mr Barr mentioned that people 15 minutes away, in Queanbeyan, for example, have those rights and we do not. In fact, from where I live, it is only 10 minutes to Queanbeyan; those people only 10 minutes away have a right that we do not have here in the ACT.

I would like to thank my federal Liberal colleagues in the Senate who did support the vote yesterday. I would especially like to thank those cabinet members who supported the vote, including Marise Payne, Nigel Scullion and Simon Birmingham. I also say thank you to Senator Ian Macdonald.

Whilst this is about territory rights, I will take the opportunity to make quite clear my own views on end of life choices. Rightly or wrongly, from the start, this issue has been conflated with voluntary assisted dying. That was problematic from the start. While the dialogue changed over time, it started off about lobbying for euthanasia or voluntary assisted dying and then had to deal with the Andrews bill to get that through. That was what caused a lot of the issues to start with.

My views in this area are informed by something that happened back when I was a young teenager. My mother and I spent weeks on end interstate with my aunt, who was dying of breast cancer. She was in unimaginable pain. I can remember hearing my aunt and my mother sobbing and crying together, and my aunt begging my mother to help her end her suffering. My mother could not bring herself to do it; she was too afraid of the repercussions. My aunt was not physically able to do it herself.

This is something that has stayed with me ever since that time. Of course, there have been other people near and dear to me since that time who have gone through similar end of life issues, but that was the one that has had the most long-lasting impact in my memory. Only weeks later my aunt did die from breast cancer. She was riddled with cancer throughout her body. In those ensuing weeks, she endured terrible pain and suffering. Since then, I have been in favour of voluntary assisted dying.

I would also like to put on record, though, that I have very grave concerns about the way this may impact on vulnerable groups in our community, not least many people in the disability community, who have spoken to me about this over the years. They are concerned that their value, their lives, may be seen as less and that the effort put into looking after them in a medical sense may be reduced with these laws. Down the track, after the committee reports, if we are looking at these end of life choices, that is an area that we need to very strongly look at.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Barr for bringing on this motion today. I would like to say thank you to my colleagues for our discussion about allowing this as a conscience vote today. I will be supporting Mr Barr’s motion.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.50): At the outset I think it is very important to put on the table that the debate we are having today is only occurring because of the issue of euthanasia, and Mr Coe has made that point. It is unfortunate that states’


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