Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Friday, 8 October 2021) . . Page.. 2982 ..
This is an issue where we ought to have the capacity to offer dignity and compassion to the citizens of the ACT. It is important to a great many of us now and, of course, will be to others in the future. It is unconscionable that the status quo should remain. The time for change is now. The federal government needs to remove this barrier to citizens of the ACT and our friends in the Northern Territory.
Our local federal representative needs to listen to and speak for his constituents, the barest requirement for a parliamentarian of any party. While nationwide support for the territories’ ability to legislate on this issue sits at around 90 per cent, based on 2019 data from the ABC, where a clear majority supports this and there is clearly an intention within the federal parliament—if not the government—to grapple with the same issue for the Northern Territory, it appears the ACT’s greatest barrier is the senator who is tasked with representing us. I think the comments made by Ms Cheyne have spelled out very clearly the role that Senator Seselja has played in being the single biggest barrier to the ACT getting our rights back to be able to address this issue together as a community and have that complex and sensitive discussion we need to.
Somehow Senator Seselja has taken it upon himself, when offered to join, to say, “No thanks. I don’t think the people of the ACT deserve that. I don’t think it is right for Canberrans to be able to have this conversation.” He explicitly went out of his way to limit the rights of Canberrans to have this conversation, to decide for ourselves on an issue of significant personal importance for so many people in this territory.
We need loud and unambiguous advocacy from every single member in this place today to tell their federal colleagues and particularly our senator for the ACT, Senator Seselja, that the time has come to represent us. It is time to say this inactivism should be swept away. The ACT should be able to debate this issue. It will be a challenging discussion for us. It is one that this Assembly needs to examine with care and with sensitivity—not in a rush—but we should be able to do it. I commend this motion to the Assembly.
MS LEE (Kurrajong—Leader of the Opposition) (11.31): The Canberra Liberals support territory rights. We respect that there is going to be a diversity of views across our community on the issue of voluntary assisted dying—and we respect that—but every single member of this place has been elected by our constituents to be our voice. We believe firmly that we, as Canberrans, being the voice for Canberrans, should have the right to debate and legislate on an issue that impacts Canberrans.
Ms Cheyne knows very, very well what the Canberra Liberals position is. In fact, Mr Rattenbury and I, on behalf of our parties, worked together earlier this year to bring forward a tripartisan motion expressing this. It is incredibly disappointing then that Ms Cheyne and Mr Rattenbury have decided that they are now going to change tack, that they are going to change that pathway, and it is no accident that this motion is being brought today without any notice. The first I read about it was in the Canberra Times this morning—
Mr Rattenbury: It was on the notice paper.