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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2272 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

Legislation to legally kill a person such as this could lead to the patient feeling such a burden that they are emotionally manipulated into requesting euthanasia, even though they would, in their hearts, prefer to live out a full and whole life.

The second letter reads:

The best way to help people who are suffering is to give them necessary pain relief, tend to their needs with caring and an attitude that treats them with the dignity their life deserves. Be a presence to them with love and acceptance of who they are and what they are going through. The problem is generally not unbearable physical pain but the emotional and spiritual pain of feeling unwanted, unloved and a burden. We are getting too busy and self-centred to be willing to spend time with people and most of the time this is all people need - a presence and a listening ear.

I think that sums it up: The caring, the understanding and the ability to be there for the assistance of those we love are what love is about. With these few words, Mr Speaker, I strongly urge members to turn their backs on this legislation, and I commend Mr Wood and Mr Connolly for their support. It would be a retrograde step to support the introduction of this legislation in the ACT. I will be opposing it.

Sitting suspended from 12.24 to 2.30 pm


Psychiatric Patients - Proposed Royal Commission

MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I have a question for Mrs Carnell in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care and it relates again to the police shooting of Mr Warren I'Anson last Friday. Mr Speaker, I could refer to the front page of today's Canberra Times and suggest that there are significant differences of opinion as to the facts of this matter; but, as I said yesterday, our approach from this side of the house will be to look for solutions. I ask Mrs Carnell whether she would join with the call from the Australian Psychiatric Disability Coalition and join with the Labor Party in calling for a Federal royal commission into police shootings or killings of psychiatric patients.

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much for the question. I think we should be leaving this whole issue to the coroner who is investigating it at this stage. I agree that there have been some differences of opinion, but those differences of opinion tend to be with a very select few people, not with the I'Anson family. In fact, just this morning I spoke to Brian, and he certainly does not have any difference of opinion at all with the position that I and others, like Libby Steeper, have taken in this situation. What we want to do is make sure that in future people with psychiatric disabilities in the ACT - schizophrenics and others - have a better deal both within the ACT and Australia-wide. I think in this case we should wait for the coroner to determine what happened.

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