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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2253 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I have had put to me also the view that this Bill somehow means that palliative care will be reduced or not provided to dying patients. This, of course, is nonsense. Canberra, as we all know, is very fortunate in having a palliative care service of the very highest standard. It is a service which is greatly valued by all who come into contact with it. Successive governments have sought to add to the palliative care resources in the community. Most notable in recent times has been Labor's action in funding and opening the ACT's hospice. I regard it as little more than scaremongering to imply that there is anything in this Bill which will jeopardise palliative care. I can certainly offer the assurance that, if there is any such jeopardy, everyone in this Labor team will support to their utmost the continued provision of a full range of high-quality palliative care services. Nor should euthanasia ever be seen as some kind of an alternative to palliative care. Clearly, such a view completely ignores the wishes of the patient concerned. As I have said before, it is the expressed wishes of the patient which this Bill seeks to protect.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, my support for this Bill is based on my desire to extend the options available to people in the terminal stages of a terminal illness, particularly those whose pain and suffering cannot be relieved by current methods. My support, whilst quite firm, is offered with a great deal of regret that not everyone is granted an easy death. I have seen enough of diseases like AIDS and cancer to know that, for a small number of people, the suffering at the end of their disease may be unendurable for them. If they wish it - and only if they wish it - I believe they should be offered a way out, and those who use their professional skills to help provide that way out should not be subject to criminal sanction.

Debate interrupted.


MR SPEAKER: I inform members of the presence in the gallery of the Leader of the National Party, Mr Tim Fischer, from the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia. On behalf of all members, I bid him a warm welcome.


Debate resumed.

MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services) (11.07): I heard what Mr Osborne and Ms Follett said. I will not be supporting this Bill. My condemnation of the Bill should not be seen as a condemnation of any individual or any individual view. To condemn any individual would be to condemn many people I personally love and respect and who have a view opposite to mine. I am thankful that I can express my individual view on the issue. This Bill is something that I racked my mind about.

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