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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 687 ..


MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (11.24): I am pleased to co-sponsor and to speak in support of this motion brought to the Assembly today. This is a debate on territory rights. The Canberra Liberals support the right of the ACT to debate and legislate on the issue of voluntary assisted dying.

The ACT Legislative Assembly is democratically elected by the people of Canberra and it should have the right to legislate on this matter on behalf of Canberrans, just as we have the right to legislate on a whole host of other matters dealt with by state and local governments across Australia. We are members of our community, the community that we serve, and we are in this chamber because we were elected by Canberrans to be their voice in their parliament, in our parliament.

This chamber comprises Canberrans, elected by Canberrans, who have been given the privilege by others to make laws for Canberrans. In August 2018, in response to a remonstrance motion brought by the Chief Minister, I spoke on and voted in favour of expressing the ACT Legislative Assembly’s disappointment in the federal Senate not passing the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015, which would have repealed the relevant sections of the so-called Andrews bill. I raised this matter with the Prime Minister at our last meeting, and I will continue to raise this matter with him.

The Labor and Greens members of this chamber at times like to assert that the limitation on this parliament being able to bring this matter on for debate and legislative passage here is to be blamed solely on the federal Liberal-National government. But it is important to note that when the federal bill failed to pass the Senate in 2018, seven Labor senators also voted against it. Mr Rattenbury has spoken about his disappointment regarding Senator Seselja’s vote, but it is worth noting that there were seven Labor senators who also voted against the bill. It is worth asking what Ms Cheyne and, indeed, the Chief Minister will do to ensure that the minds of those Labor senators are changed.

The issue of voluntary assisted dying is not an easy one. The Canberra Liberals acknowledge and respect the very diverse views on voluntary assisted dying in the ACT community. I welcome Mr Rattenbury’s comments about the thoroughness that will be needed in this debate if we are given the right to debate it in this chamber, including extensive community consultation and what, I agree with him, will probably be a relatively robust debate here.

I have made it very clear from the outset, as was made clear in the last term, that should this chamber be given the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying, it will be a matter for a conscience vote for the Canberra Liberals.

I thank Ms Cheyne for her commitment to and advocacy on this issue, and for initiating this tripartisan motion to be debated in the Assembly today. I also acknowledge the way she, Mr Rattenbury and I have been able to work together to co-sign this motion, standing up for the rights of this parliament, our parliament, to have the right to make laws on behalf of all Canberrans. I commend the motion to the Assembly.


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