Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3063 ..
rights and euthanasia have been conflated. A point made by one of the senators yesterday is that they are quite separate debates to be having, and I think it would have been better had we had separate states’ rights and euthanasia debates because they sometimes evoke different responses.
I thank my colleagues for the fact that this will be dealt with as a conscience issue; I particularly thank Mr Coe as leader. Respecting the views that each of us hold, regardless of our political affiliation on these issues, is very important. I have drawn some of my views on euthanasia from a piece Senator Zed Seselja put in the Canberra Times yesterday, a piece from Paul Keating in the Australian some time ago and from others who advocate for euthanasia.
In terms of the substantive issue of euthanasia, I am certainly not ethically or morally opposed. I am not a religious person. But I certainly have concerns that leave me very conflicted on the issue. Ms Lawder raised some of those, with regard to the potential for impositions on the elderly and elder abuse, people suffering from mental health, and people with a disability. My father is currently in a home as a result of Alzheimer’s, and it can affect people who are very vulnerable in that regard as well.
Ten minutes ago I got a text from a mate of mine who is currently on a boat on his way to Hamilton Island. It is a picture of him with his mates, the sun is shining and there’s a picture of whale in the ocean. That guy’s name is Matt Owen; he has been in here before and I have spoken about him. Three and a half years ago Matt was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he was given six months to live. He was told, “This is your last Christmas.” That same bloke is texting me from a boat on his way to Hamilton Island.
Matt is very lucky to have a supportive family—Karen and his son, Will. They have fought, and it means that Matt is still alive. Not everybody has that; not everybody is so lucky. For older people or those who are isolated in our community, what would have happened to them had they had access to the sort of legislation being talked about now? That is the sort of question that vexes me when it comes to the substantive issue.
When it does come to the important debate about euthanasia, I have to say I am conflicted. I am not yet convinced that we can bring a piece of legislation in here or anywhere else that provides the sufficient safeguards we need. Let me be very clear—my opposition to this is not ethical and it is not moral; it is about the consequences of this legislation and how it may play on people who are vulnerable in our society, and that debate has been articulated well by others.
However, I accept that this is a debate that we are entitled to have. I will be supporting this motion today. That does not mean that, should a piece of legislation on euthanasia eventuate, I would necessarily support that. At this stage it is likely that I would not because I am yet to be convinced.
I want to conclude with words of support for those who have opposed this or will be opposing this today and those who opposed it in the Senate yesterday. These are deeply held convictions by people often with deeply held faith. To demand that