Page 2965 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 14 August 2013
because of a view from the commonwealth on a matter of principle. The Labor Party supports the principle outlined by Mr Rattenbury that we should be able to make laws and determine these matters for ourselves. The actual issue of whether euthanasia should be legalised is a completely separate matter to the principle that we and the Northern Territory are treated differently from the states. So I do not think whipping up a frenzy around euthanasia is relevant here.
Amendment agreed to.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (10.55): I thank members for their contribution to the debate. Mr Hanson raised the fact that section 23 of the self-government act, which I have already mentioned, specifically prohibits the ACT passing any legislation in relation to voluntary euthanasia. I did in fact acknowledge this. It is rather like the elephant in the room. It is certainly a matter that will always be raised in the community when one raises end-of-life issues. I would agree with what the Chief Minister just said about the principle of whether the ACT can actually enact its own laws. I do agree with Mr Hanson that this is not the subject of this debate in this place today.
This motion is not, as Mr Hanson says, some kind of sneaky way or move by this government. It is more an honest recognition of the larger debate in the community. Mr Rattenbury acknowledges that it will always be raised and will be raised in community conversation.
As I said, my mother was not afforded palliative care and my father-in-law was, and these two experiences, whilst having some similarities, were also starkly different in regard to their care and support and the manner in which they died.
In all of the countries I visited, many talked to me about the role and the value of palliative care. Members will be interested to know that Switzerland are currently releasing a new palliative care strategy as well, and they look to Australia as leaders in this area. In fact, they send their health officials and people who come from the palliative care association in Switzerland to Australia to learn from us. I spoke with senior bureaucrats in the Swiss health system, in their department and in the palliative care association, and they were very supportive of what we were doing here in Australia.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, there is a great emphasis on palliative care, especially in making sure that this is something a person has access to and is supported by very early in their journey. As the Chief Minister was saying, this is not something that you need to suddenly become interested in towards the end of your particular illness.
End-of-life directives, as we have discussed, are very important. As I said, the roles of these directives are the subject of much debate in Belgium, in particular whether the current sunset clause of five years that they have there should be relaxed. However, these directives are extremely important, as I said, and it appears to me they feature very strongly in all the countries I visited. This question and other questions about end-of-life issues will now be the subject of this conversation that we have started here today.