Page 3100 - Week 08 - Thursday, 16 August 2018
If the ACT government is serious about progressing either the issue of territory rights or the issue of assisted suicide, I call on those opposite to engage constructively with our federal colleagues rather than using this chamber to continuously grandstand on issues beyond their jurisdiction.
Finally, if the Chief Minister is so preoccupied with federal jurisdictional matters then perhaps he should have sought preselection for a federal seat.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (3.53): I too want to add my voice to what I think has been quite a respectful and, for the most part, sincere debate on the issue at hand. I was not going to speak today but hearing everyone come out and say what they were saying I too want to note that I believe the territory should have a right to have the conversation itself. It was put today during the debate that perhaps we are a small parliament and we are not quite mature enough. I disagree entirely with that.
In my first speech I spoke of my two grandfathers who both passed away in 2016. One of my grandfathers lived in New South Wales, the other in ACT. One had the right to have a parliament debate how their life should end; the other did not. One was in pain for days and one, even though he was in palliative care, suffered immensely with no choice because his parliament does not have a choice.
It is something we should be able to decide. We are big enough, we are mature enough, to have that discussion ourselves. And we are big enough and mature enough to make the decision ourselves. We should not be stopped from having that conversation. Based on the respect of the debate we have had today I think we are capable of doing that. And I support our having the right to do it.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.55): I rise in support of the Chief Minister’s motion today. I also listened to this debate and was not intending to speak but I want to briefly add my voice, as everyone else has done, to a debate that could at times almost be better characterised as a conversation among colleagues.
The respectful way in which this debate has largely been conducted demonstrates the maturity of this place, although, as Ms Fitzharris pointed out, the place can also get pretty willing at times. That is fine too. That is what democracy is about.
Fortunately I have not had the personal experience of a loved one dying a slow and painful death. I do, however, have a personal view on the issue of voluntary assisted dying. I am on record as supporting a person’s right to die with dignity, to exercise choice and control until the end of their life. I also recognise that this is a complex issue and that people of goodwill can have different views and that even people who support voluntary assisted dying will have disagreements about how we would give effect to that if we had the right to make that decision.
As others have said, this is not about my opinion on voluntary assisted dying and it should not have been about the opinion of 36 senators on this issue. This is, as others