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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 684 ..

I implored them then to speak up, join up and stand up for territory rights, constantly. I sincerely hope that Ms Lee’s contribution in this place marks a turning point for the Canberra Liberals. I genuinely thank her for the spirit in which she has engaged with me and Mr Rattenbury in co-sponsoring this critical motion about our rights.

I implore the entire Assembly to speak up, join up and stand up for territory rights. This is about our right to choose for ourselves, on behalf of our citizens, to end the paternalism, to end the denial of our rights and to give us back democratic opportunities equal to those gifted to every other Australian living in a state: democratic rights; human rights.

We urge, we appeal and we demand that federal parliament, a largely, but not entirely, different federal parliament to that of 24 years ago, consider exactly what they are doing by allowing this untenable, inequitable situation to persist, to look to the states and realise how senseless and needless the legislation banning the territories is, to consider democratic rights, human rights, and to do what is right.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (11.15): I am very pleased to have the opportunity to co-sponsor this important motion, both as a representative of the ACT Greens and as the ACT’s Attorney-General. I am pleased to co-sponsor the motion, but I am also, frankly, appalled that we need to be debating this issue of territory rights again in 2021. This issue, where the Australian government restricts the Australian territories from considering laws on voluntary euthanasia, has continued for way too long. As Minister Cheyne pointed out, it is 24 years since the provision was originally passed.

In my view, it is offensive, undemocratic, unnecessary and it removes the chance for ACT citizens to engage with one of the most important issues in their lives; that is, the manner of their own death, their health and dignity, and that of their families and loved ones. These are incredibly important issues to people as humans.

Over many years, many members of this Assembly have pursued this issue of voluntary assisted dying, seeking equality for the ACT. I moved a motion in the Assembly back in 2014 condemning the undemocratic and discriminatory restriction imposed by the federal government and calling on the Speaker to write to the federal parliament on behalf of the Assembly, requesting the removal of that restriction. That motion was passed, although back then it was not with the support of the Canberra Liberals.

Sadly, these laws have still not changed. I note that a previous MLA, Mary Porter, worked very hard on this issue and was very passionate about it. My former Greens colleague Caroline Le Couteur was a strong advocate on this issue. And I acknowledge the efforts that Minister Cheyne is putting into achieving change. This demonstrates a long and committed effort from members of the Assembly across a range of political views about the importance of this reform and the rights of the territories. This Assembly has, of course, also passed a remonstrance motion, condemning the federal government.

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