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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2980 ..


Cash’s correspondence and the disrespect that she has shown to the ACT and Northern Territory—our governments, our parliaments and our people. As someone commented this morning, the federal government does not consider all Australians equal. We are, and this should be recognised in our self-government acts. We will not let this go. I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (11.21): Like Minister Cheyne, I am not thrilled to be having to have this discussion again today. It is a source of enormous frustration not only for members of this place but for people right across the ACT. But I do thank Minister Cheyne for initiating this motion and for providing us the opportunity to once again make our position clear, that it is well and truly time that the rights of ACT residents to canvass these matters are restored by the commonwealth government, the sole government that has the capability to do that.

It is not a radical ask that we are putting on the table today. It is only an ask for the commonwealth government to remove a restriction arbitrarily imposed on the territories, meaning that the governments of almost 700,000 people are denied the ability to legislate on voluntary assisted dying, an issue that is so important for so many people not only in our two territories but across the country.

As I have done so before, I express my gratitude for the persistent advocacy of previous MLAs. From the ALP, Mary Porter was a strong and long-time advocate for a return to sensible policy from the commonwealth and, of course, my former Greens colleague, Caroline Le Couteur, was tirelessly committed to advancing this issue over her time in the Assembly. Many others have spoken in this place about the necessity for the ACT to have these rights restored.

It is a legislative aberration which has lingered ever since Kevin Andrews introduced the Euthanasia Laws Bill in 1996. This knee-jerk reaction to the Northern Territory’s laws for voluntary assisted dying was wrong at the time but now has evolved to the point where it is simply an anachronism. This motion is directed to one thing and one thing only: to ask that the commonwealth government show territorians the respect of allowing us to govern ourselves in the same way that our fellow citizens across the nation are able to do.

It is worth noting that the right enjoyed by residents of the states has been given quite the workout recently. The motion notes that, of the six states, five have legislated to provide for a voluntary assisted dying scheme, with two already having commenced operation, and that there will soon be a bill introduced into the New South Wales parliament. This will represent the second time in four years that New South Wales has considered these laws—two more times than we are currently empowered to do. With literally every single jurisdiction that can have this debate either doing so or having done so, the commonwealth has made no song and dance about the unravelling of the moral fabric of our society or protesting the outrageous rogue states.

What conclusion are we to draw from this? One obvious conclusion is that the federal coalition can barely be bothered lifting a finger just to get out of the way. The


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