Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2201 ..
MS CHEYNE: in the House of Representatives calling on the government to repeal the law blocking the territories from legislating on voluntary assisted dying. Senator Gallagher has also been very vocal—
Ms Stephen-Smith: Madam Speaker—
MADAM SPEAKER: Resume your seat. A point of order?
Ms Stephen-Smith: Madam Speaker, I can hardly hear Ms Cheyne, because of the chatter.
MADAM SPEAKER: Members, if we are all silent, Ms Cheyne will be heard.
MS CHEYNE: Senator Gallagher has also been very vocal in the media.
MADAM SPEAKER: Members, we are getting to the end, I know, but there are more questions to go. Mr Pettersson?
MR PETTERSSON: Minister, have you written to the responsible federal minister about territory rights? If so, what has been the response?
Mr Hanson interjecting—
MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, could we have one question time when I don’t call you to order?
MS CHEYNE: Madam Speaker, I note that, once upon a time, Mr Hanson actually considered this issue important. On 3 March the Northern Territory Attorney-General and I jointly wrote to the three responsible federal ministers, drawing their attention to the human rights implications of the territories not being able to legislate on voluntary assisted dying. We asked the ministers to take action to fix this. We wrote to the then Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Nola Marino, and the then Attorney-General, Christian Porter.
We had not received a response when there was a cabinet reshuffle, so on 23 April the Northern Territory Attorney-General and I wrote to the incoming federal Attorney-General to highlight that we had not received a response. We have still not received a response from any minister, and today marks five months. All we have had is a note from the Attorney-General’s Department saying they had referred our correspondence to Ms Marino, but we have since heard informally that the Attorney-General has decided that she is the responsible minister after all. It is deeply disappointing that the federal government have been bouncing the issue among ministers when all that they need to do is agree to make a simple legislative change. While they continue to stall, they are preventing the territories from having a meaningful conversation about our end-of-life choices, while the states are able to progress voluntary assisted dying laws for themselves.