ACT News

ACT Parliament to debate euthanasia with another call for repeal of Andrews Bill

Euthanasia is back before the ACT Assembly, with Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury seeking backing for a call for the repeal of the "Andrews Bill", which prevents the territories from legalising euthanasia.

The ACT has returned repeatedly to the issue of voluntary euthanasia, with the advocacy of Mr Rattenbury and Labor backbencher Mary Porter. Ms Porter made a three-week visit to Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium last year to meet euthanasia experts and look at regimens in those countries, and is continuing to push the issue in Canberra. She plans a second community forum in October and is finalising a research paper.

Liberal member Vicki Dunne will now be part of the Gungahlin electorate.
Liberal member Vicki Dunne will now be part of the Gungahlin electorate. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Both Mr Rattenbury and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher have urged a Senate committee considering euthanasia to push for the repeal of the Andrews ban. On Thursday, Mr Rattenbury will move for the Assembly to write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott requesting the right to make euthanasia laws in Canberra.

Mr Rattenbury said the ACT must continue to push its right to make its own laws.

If the Andrews Bill was ever overturned, he would seek to introduce a voluntary euthanasia scheme in Canberra, he confirmed.

"Yes, I'd like to see euthanasia in place in the ACT but there would be a long discussion to be had working through exactly what that would look like. It's a sensitive topic," he said.

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Mr Rattenbury's call for the repeal of the Andrews ban will pass with the support of Labor, but the Liberals will oppose it. While euthanasia is a conscience issue for the Liberals, the Liberals would not be allowed a conscience vote on the repeal of the Andrews Bill, leader Jeremy Hanson said.

"This shouldn't be seen as anything other than Mr Rattenbury implementing a Greens agenda which is to introduce euthanasia in the ACT," he said.

He defended the Andrews Bill as "a realistic acknowledgement of the unique nature of the ACT".

"We are a very small jurisdiction, we are not a state, we have the smallest parliament in Australia, we do not have an upper house, there is no governor or administrator and far fewer checks and balances," he said. "It is my view that the ACT Assembly shouldn't be determining such controversial social policy which would impact the rest of Australia."

Mr Hanson said Ms Gallagher could not "pretend this is about territory rights" when she knew the agenda behind it.

"She will know that a potential outcome of this is euthanasia being implemented in the ACT," he said.

Mr Hanson said he was sympathetic to people who were suffering, particularly at end of life, but he did not support euthanasia.

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