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It is fitting that I finish with the most important reason of all for this legislation; and that is that we ought to be responding to this question with compassion. We have no right to deny people who will endure suffering beyond our comprehension the right to choose death when their death is imminent due to a terminal illness; just as we have no right to allow a doctor to end a patient’s life without their consent. Every patient’s rights must be protected so that they have control, as much as possible, of what is essentially one of the most significant times in a person's existence. I am proposing that we allow the people of the ACT the right to choose this for themselves; that we have the compassion to allow the people of the ACT the right to choose for themselves. In order that there can be maximum community input into this Bill, I have decided to issue this Bill as an exposure draft.
MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement on this matter.
MR KAINE: I did not come here this morning to debate this matter. I understood that Mr Moore intended to table a private members Bill on which debate would have been adjourned, and we would have proceeded in the near future to determine the merits of that Bill. Mr Moore has taken a different track. Mr Moore has tabled what he calls an “exposure draft” on which he wants to get public comment. I do not believe that his tabling of this Bill, and his assertion that it is a good thing, should go without the other side having been heard. As I say, I did not come prepared; but I do intend to challenge some of the propositions that Mr Moore has put forward, because I think it would be unreasonable if they were not challenged.
The question of euthanasia is an emotional one. I notice that Mr Moore, in concluding his remarks, appealed to the emotions. He said, “We have not the right to ask people to suffer unendurable pain”. This is a society in which, in my opinion, legalising murder is not yet on the agenda. That is what Mr Moore is asking for. Let us be clear about this. If you have read his exposure draft, he intends to put the onus on medical practitioners and nurses to do away with somebody's life. The circumstances in which he is proposing this are quite odd - quite bizarre, in fact. I want to make it clear that I am not ready to support any such Bill; not now and not in the immediate and foreseeable future.
There has been plenty of public debate on this issue. It has been before Mr Moore's committee twice. He has had plenty of public submissions put to it. He has not yet drummed up enough support to get it through this house. So you have to ask the question: Why is he bringing it back again? Nothing has changed. There is no change in the ground swell of public opinion on this issue. I very much doubt that the members of this house are prepared to change the view that they expressed only a short period of time ago; they do not favour active euthanasia.
Mr Moore got a Bill through that talked about passive euthanasia. I have no difficulty with that, because it does do the very thing that he purports to do now; that is, it protects the right of a patient to die with dignity.