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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3406 ..


MS FOLLETT (4.38): Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Assembly endorses the findings of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills in relation to the Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996.

I have moved this motion today, Mr Speaker, in order to draw members' attention to the findings of the Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee. In fact, I circulated the Alert Digest from that committee to members' offices yesterday. Like our own Scrutiny of Bills Committee, Mr Speaker, the Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee has broad membership. In fact, it is made up of two Labor senators, two Liberal senators, one Democrat senator and one National Party senator. The committee's terms of reference are also similar to those of this Assembly's Scrutiny of Bills Committee.

The Senate committee has recently examined the Euthanasia Laws Bill introduced into the House of Representatives by Mr Kevin Andrews, the Federal member for the seat of Menzies. Mr Speaker, I believe that members will be aware of the purpose of Mr Andrews's Bill. The purpose is, in fact, to overturn in the Federal Parliament laws made in the Northern Territory parliament, and, incidentally, in the ACT parliament and the Norfolk Island parliament, specifically as they relate to the issue of euthanasia.

Mr Speaker, I believe the findings of the Senate committee bear close examination. I think they are extremely revealing, in that the issue that Mr Andrews has raised is most certainly not clear cut. In fact, it goes to the very heart of the nature of self-government in this Territory and the others which I have mentioned. Mr Speaker, I will refer to the findings of the Senate committee. They say:

The Legislative Assemblies of the Australian Capital Territory, Norfolk Island and the Northern Territory presently have power to legislate on a range of matters pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Acts identified above.

They specify that they are the self-government Acts in all cases. They continue:

This bill, -

that is, Mr Andrews's Bill -

if enacted, would diminish that range of matters.

The three Assemblies are all elected on a universal adult franchise. Accordingly, they operate within democracies. This bill seeks to take away from the people living within those democracies an ability they now have to elect an assembly with power to legislate about a matter of great moment.

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