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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3945 ..


votes, a bill that was quashed in part thanks to one of Canberra’s very own representatives, ACT Senator Zed Seselja, a former member of this place. He voted against it. As I said at the time, it was devastating; it was despicable; and it was reprehensible. Yet again, the federal government let down Canberrans.

It was also disappointing to see the Canberra Liberals refuse to advocate publicly for territory rights in the lead-up to this significant Senate debate, to stand up for the residents they are supposed to represent. It was disappointing to hear so many senators—I concede that there were Labor senators in that group—who, in debating the bill, conflated their personal views on voluntary assisted dying with restoring territory rights. They showed that they do not trust us—fellow citizens, fellow parliamentarians—to make the appropriate, the right decisions for ourselves.

This issue is about more than voluntary assisted dying. It is about our right to legislate just like every other state in this country. If any of us lived just 15 minutes down the road in New South Wales, or even closer for some of our colleagues who only have to drive for five or 10 minutes to cross the border, our views would be represented by our local parliamentarians in their state parliament. They could make laws for us. How absurd is that?

But the fight does not end with the Senate vote. It is just the beginning. Just one day after the defeat of the federal bill, we stood up and we fought back. As you know, Madam Assistant Speaker, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed a remonstrance motion, a motion that condemned the actions of the federal Senate in refusing to restore the rights of the territories to legislate on voluntary assisted dying.

As members in this place know, it was the first remonstrance to pass in the ACT parliament’s 29-year history. It was a motion that brought members from across this chamber together in support of the ACT’s right to determine our own laws with respect to voluntary assisted dying regardless, for most members, of our personal views on this issue.

Those members can appreciate that restoring territory rights would not automatically mean that there would be voluntary assisted dying in Canberra. What it would mean is that Canberrans would have the same rights as other Australians, that this place would be able to properly represent Canberrans on all issues, not just on what the federal parliament deemed us mature enough to consider.

I appreciate the support of many members from all three parties in this place in responding to the motion of remonstrance. The ACT deserves better; the ACT parliament deserves better; and the ACT residents deserve better. We were not alone in taking this action. The Northern Territory has also passed a motion of remonstrance to the Senate.

Last week, delegates from both parliaments, led by our speakers, stood together with some of our federal counterparts in delivering our remonstrances to the President of the Senate. Certainly, President of the Senate, Senator Scott Ryan’s, own views on territory rights were surprising to me. They were patronising. They were arcane, demonstrating again how out of touch the federal government is on this issue.


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