Labor MLA Mary Porter has returned from a three-week visit to three European countries where voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide are legal to start a ''community conversation'' about end-of-life options in the ACT.
She believes voluntary euthanasia will eventually be allowed to occur in the ACT but says her trip was only to gather information and there is nothing planned to try to have it introduced in the territory.
''I don't think it's going to happen tomorrow by any stretch of the imagination. It may not happen while I'm a member of parliament,'' she said.
Revelations about Ms Porter's trip come as right-to-die advocate Dr Philip Nitschke has announced plans to stand for the Senate in the ACT for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party.
A bill is also being drafted to allow voluntary euthanasia in Tasmania.
Ms Porter, a former nurse, says she does not want to advocate for or against voluntary euthanasia; she wants to work to ensure ACT residents are presented with more information about end-of-life options. These included voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide but also options such as palliative care and advanced care directives, which put in writing a patient's right to refuse medical treatment.
Ms Porter visited three countries where voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide are allowed - Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland - on a taxpayer-funded study tour.
She met with politicians, doctors, lawyers, ethicists and lobbyists, hearing views on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.
''The reason I decided I might use my study tour allocation to go to Europe was because, being an older person myself, I do get a lot of requests from other older people in the community to address the issue of death and dying. In particular, people who had experienced their own relatives dying in a way they thought not acceptable,'' she said.
MLAs who are not ministers are entitled to spend up to $24,000 in a four-year term on study tours, a figure that includes expenses for spouses, under a determination by the independent ACT Remuneration Tribunal. Ms Porter's husband accompanied her on the trip.
Both Ms Porter and Chief Minister Katy Gallagher say there are no moves planned to try to circumvent federal laws that prevent the ACT from passing laws that would allow voluntary euthanasia.
Should the federal barriers be removed, ACT Labor supports a conscience vote on euthanasia for all MLAs. The Canberra Liberals do not support the removal of provisions that would enable euthanasia to be legalised but support a conscience vote. The ACT Greens believe people ''suffering from a terminal illness who are in intolerable pain should be able to choose a peaceful and medically induced death''.
''My view on this issue has changed and been shaped by watching both my parents die following terminal illnesses,'' Ms Gallagher said.
''If I was ever in a position where I had to make a choice about supporting a proposed model of voluntary euthanasia I would have to be convinced about a range of safeguards as part of any model.
''I'm overwhelmingly of the view that the debate about euthanasia should be refocused on improving end-of-life care, understanding the individual person's wishes about their end-of-life care choices and how we as a community ensure that people are able to die with dignity.''
Spokesmen for both the government and the Coalition this week told The Canberra Times they had no plans to repeal the federal law prohibiting the ACT, Northern Territory and Norfolk Island from making laws allowing voluntary euthanasia.
Dr Nitschke said the federal government would be under pressure to repeal the law affecting the territories if voluntary euthanasia was legalised in Tasmania.
''I really think the pressure will come back on the federal government - you can't have a discriminatory piece of legislation like that in place where other states are doing things which are clearly denied to territorians,'' he said.
Ms Porter doubted the bill would pass in Tasmania but did not believe that would be the end for voluntary euthanasia in Australia.
''I believe eventually [voluntary euthanasia] will happen so we need to prepare the ground,'' she said.