Page 2873 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 September 1994

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   Wednesday, 14 September 1994


MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.


Motion (by Mr Humphries), by leave, agreed to:

That orders of the day, Nos 1 to 4, private members business, relating to the Discrimination (Amendment) Bill (No. 2) 1993, the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Bill 1994, the Commercial Tenancies Bill 1993 and the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1992, respectively, be discharged from the notice paper.


Debate resumed from 21 April 1994, on motion by Mr Moore:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CONNOLLY (Attorney-General and Minister for Health) (10.33): Madam Speaker, in the last sittings of the Assembly I tabled the Government's response to the Assembly's Select Committee on Euthanasia, in which we indicated that we fully endorsed the unanimous recommendation of the select committee that the original Bill proposed by Mr Moore be discharged but that a Bill dealing with what is known as "natural death" replace it. The debate on euthanasia and natural death has been a contentious one in this Territory over the last 12 months or so. The Government has always made it clear that it anticipated that debate in this area would go down the path of first passage of a natural death Bill, followed by community debate on active euthanasia.

There is a substantial difference between natural death and active euthanasia. The issue of natural death legislation seems to have received very widespread community support. Many church leaders who have quite fundamental objections to active euthanasia are very comfortable with the proposition that the individual should have the right to deny interventional medical treatment. Intensive care medicine has advanced to such a state that it is theoretically possible to keep a person breathing, or living, almost indefinitely. "Living" is probably an inappropriate term, because they are simply functioning. A person can be clinically brain dead; but, plugged into the appropriate technological life support systems, the body can continue to function for weeks, months or, theoretically, years. That is something to which many people have quite profound objections. Indeed, many of the moralists and ethicists who very strongly oppose active euthanasia also have great qualms about interventional medicine which artificially keeps a body functioning.

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