The arbitrary federal ban on Canberrans and Northern Territorians being able to vote for or against assisted dying legislation has always been deeply unjust.
Now, 24 years after Kevin Andrews' Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996 "to prevent the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island from passing certain laws permitting euthanasia" was passed it is also profoundly absurd.
It is an unwarranted, and unnecessary, restriction on the political liberties of almost 750,000 Australian citizens at a time when Victoria and Western Australia have already legalised euthanasia.
In NSW a voluntary assisted dying bill was defeated in the upper house by one vote in 2017. A second bill is expected to be debated later this year.
The Queensland government commissioned an inquiry into legalising euthanasia in November 2018. Legislation is currently being drafted.
The South Australian Parliament is also considering voluntary assisted dying legislation. An earlier bill was defeated on the casting vote of the speaker in 2016.
Tasmania's parliament, which came within one vote of legalising voluntary euthanasia in 2013, will be voting on another bill in the near future, possibly even later this year.
All of this is in stark contrast to 1995 when the Northern Territory Parliament passed its groundbreaking Rights of the Terminally Ill Act by 15 votes to 10.
At that time no other jurisdiction in Australia had legalised euthanasia and the Howard government was determined to shut the legislation down.
The passage of Kevin Andrews' Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996asserted the right of the federal government to dictate to territory governments what they could, and could not do. It also set the stage for the Abbott government's successful High Court challenge to the ACT's same-sex marriage legislation in 2013.
Both the ACT and the Northern Territory governments are correct when they say the restrictions on the political autonomy of their legislatures, and on the ability of citizens to vote for or against issues of great personal significance, are a breach of human rights.
The reality is that Australia has two classes of citizenship; one for the residents of the states and another for those who live in the territories.
This injustice was recognised by Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm in his Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015.
"It makes no sense that people living in the state of Victoria now have some control over the manner in which they choose to die in the face of intolerable suffering, yet other Australians are denied even having the chance to vote on such a critical issue," he said in 2018.
That is even truer today than it was then when Victoria was the only state that had gone down the voluntary assisted dying path. And it is only going to become more so.
It seems likely that unless the Euthanasia Laws Billis repealed in the immediate future territorians still won't be able to put the question to a vote even after voluntary assisted dying has been legalised everywhere else.
Senator Leyonhjelm's bill was defeated at the second reading stage by 36 votes to 34. ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja voted against it.
He, and others who opposed the repeal, apparently wrongly assumed the issue was about euthanasia. It was not, and never has been. The issue is whether or not territorians have the same right to self-determination as everybody else in Australia.
It is time to give the power back to the people.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: