Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2294 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
On the legal aspects, I would like to quote from a letter that Mr Moore wrote to a constituent here in the ACT:
Let me be very clear about what this legislation is about. It is only about the right of a patient who is in the terminal phase of a terminal illness, where that condition has been verified by two independent doctors, where the patient is over 18 years of age, where all other forms of treatment and palliative care options have been made known to the patient, where the patient has been asked if he/she wants to see a religious Minister; providing a cooling off period has occurred, provided no one involved in witnessing this decision has anything to gain from this decision, providing the doctor is satisfied that the request has been made voluntarily and not under duress of any kind - then, and only then can a request be made.
These are good, sensible protections - eight of them, in fact - which it is intended to enshrine in legislation and immediately make vulnerable to amendment.
Mr Moore: Not without coming back here.
MR CORNWELL: What are we going to chop out first? Maybe the 18 years of age requirement. Maybe we will take out the requirement that no-one involved in witnessing this decision shall have anything to gain from it.
Mr Moore: Greg, if that argument is true, murder is open to amendment.
MR CORNWELL: Thank you for the interjection. Maybe we will take out the requirement that the doctor must be satisfied that the request has been made voluntarily and not under duress of any kind. What are we going to take out? Obviously, the answer here in this sensible Assembly is that we are going to take out none of those things. But can we be sure that future legislatures will not, for one reason or another, decide to dispense with some or perhaps all of these good, sensible protections? Madam Deputy Speaker, we are in no position to guarantee that they will not.
Mr Kaine: They might add a few things too. It might not apply only to people who are terminally ill.
MR CORNWELL: My colleague Mr Kaine quite sensibly interjects that they might decide to add a few riders or perhaps change the requirement that a person be terminally ill to one that they must be only ill. We simply do not know and therefore we have a tremendous - - -
Mr Moore: Why do we not amend the Crimes Act and make murder compulsory? Come on, Greg; this is a non-argument.
MR CORNWELL: You will have your chance to answer in due course, Mr Moore. What I am saying is that once it is enshrined in legislation we have no control over what happens a couple of years down the track, in 20 years' time or whatever. Therefore, we have a very serious responsibility in debating this matter today.