Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 November 2017) . . Page.. 4795 ..
undemocratic and the people of Canberra deserve better. We must call on the federal government to repeal the Andrews bill and allow territorians the right to legislate for ourselves.
For the terminally ill in our community, the right to end their life is a choice that they should be able to make. To allow this choice is the most compassionate thing we can do for these members of our community. The suffering of a prolonged death is an extremely traumatic experience for all involved. The broader Australian community overwhelmingly supports legislative change.
As other states debate this issue, it is time that the ACT be allowed to as well. Canberra should not be a second-class jurisdiction. We should be able to determine our own laws. It is our right. And it is the right of people in our community to be able to end their life with dignity.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (12.05): I thank most of the members for their contributions today and support today. Currently, as we have heard, federal legislation exists that is outdated, is paternalistic and reduces us as a jurisdiction. It is repugnant and reprehensible that it continues to operate and that the federal parliament could be so disrespectful to ACT and the Northern Territory citizens by allowing it to continue to operate in 2017. I am grateful that the majority of members here today agree with me and spoke so passionately.
I particularly thank Minister Ramsay for his comments and for drawing attention to the heart of the motion. A member’s personal views on voluntary assisted dying should not preclude them from supporting this motion.
I do not thank the opposition leader for intentionally misrepresenting the motion as a front for trying to stir fear and to put forward his own conservative views. This motion is about restoring territory rights and having a mature debate about something that is of significance to so many people. I am appalled, and we should all be appalled, that the opposition leader would support the continued restriction on our powers in this place. By doing so, Mr Coe is disrespecting this institution, the elected members, including those of the party he leads, and the citizens of the ACT. By doing so, Mr Coe has effectively said he does not trust the citizens of the ACT to have a genuine debate about the possibility of a voluntary assisted dying scheme. His disrespect is shameful and it should be widely condemned.
Knowing the views of some of the members on the other side, and the respect that I thought many of them had for this institution and for ACT citizens—although I did hear Mrs Jones laughing before—it is unfathomable to me, or at least it was unfathomable to me, that they supported this position, the position that Mr Coe put forward, in their party room.
While they are not the subject of this motion, I need to address two things Mr Coe raised. Mr Coe spoke about the sanctity of life. What is more sacred in our lives than the final decision, the final moments, in our lives? Why should someone’s final moments be full of pain and undignified? What a way to leave this world!