Page 3696 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 13 September 2017

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She ended her life in the presence of myself and my father. The method she chose was uncomfortable for her and traumatic for us. She had left a note for her GP and asked us to contact him after she was gone. The note requested him to quietly record the cause of death as heart failure.

The doctor stood by the ethics of his profession and reported my mother’s death as a suicide to the police. My father and I were taken to the station the same day and interrogated separately for some hours. My father’s computer was seized as was my mother’s address book. The police used the address book to contact my mother’s friends and questioned them. Mum had been concerned about the stigma of suicide and wanted my father and I to tell no-one what she had done.

Dad and I lived under the shadow of prosecution until our case came before the coroner two years later. We were both open and honest about what we had done and why. I was prepared to go to prison for it. Thankfully, the coroner ruled that although I had a case to answer for when I obtained the ‘Final Exit’ book, it would not be in the public interest to prosecute me. I supported my mum when she ended her life because anything else would have been a betrayal. She would have died anyway, feeling unloved and alone.

Madam Speaker, no-one should have to be put in that position; not the person suffering and not the family member, friend or carer. And while ever voluntary assisted dying is illegal, families and people suffering are forced to make these types of choices and decisions and are put in these positions. These sorts of stories further underline my resolve to have the federal law changed so that we can have a real debate in the ACT community and in this place. It is for this reason that I will continue to ask all Canberrans to sign my petition to restore the ACT’s right to determine its own laws regarding voluntary assisted dying. I want to express my thanks to the constituent who gave me the permission to read out her story today.

Wattle Day citizenship ceremony

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (6.26): Last Thursday, 7 September I found myself transported back to May 1989, when I stood as a 10 year old in my Sunday best, holding my sister’s hand as we pledged our allegiance to Australia. Last Thursday I was privileged to be a guest speaker along with President of the Wattle Day Association, Mr Terry Fewtrell, at the very special Wattle Day citizenship ceremony presided over by Mr Pettersson.

Wattle Day celebrates the first day of spring and symbolises looking forward, good humour, generosity and democracy, and it was a special experience to share with our newest citizens the appreciation of our national floral emblem. It was fitting that the ceremony took place at Albert Hall, the venue of the very first citizenship ceremony on 3 February 1949. As always, the Wiradjuri Echoes Consultancy were on site to introduce our newest Australians to our oldest Australian culture, and we were treated to heart-warming performances by the ACT Primary Concert Choir, including a rendition of Waltzing Matilda, a song that makes me smile each and every time I hear it.

The great diversity we saw represented at the ceremony is yet another testament to the cultural depth of our community. As a proud Canberran it made my heart lift to see

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