Northern Territory Country Liberal Senator Sam McMahon wants a vote in the Coalition party room to overturn a 24-year ban on the two territories' ability to pass voluntary euthanasia laws - but she has left the ACT out of her plans.
Under our system of government, the federal parliament can currently legislate on behalf of the territories on this matter. Senator McMahon wants to overturn that for the NT - but not for the ACT. The states make their own laws on the issue.
If Senator McMahon's proposal goes through - admittedly a big if - the ACT would be the only state or territory not able to legislate on this important issue.
This continued block, uniquely on ACT legislation, would come as states across Australia have moved on the issue. Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have legalised voluntary assisted dying, while the Queensland Parliament is debating it.
Senator McMahon's proposal means an unwelcome disparity in the status of the two territories. But what should be good for one, should be good for the other.
It is true they are very different places, one largely a city and the other largely a vast tract of wilderness. But in the crucial aspect, they are similar. The Northern Territory has a population of just under 250,000 and the ACT has a population of about 400,000.
On the basis of population - the basis which matters - the ACT, with more people, has at least an equal right to make its own laws.
This is not about the rights and wrongs of people being allowed to determine the time and manner of the end of their own lives. It is about the right of the government of the ACT to make law for the people of the ACT.
Senator McMahon has said she wants to exclude the ACT from her attempt to end the ban on the territories' ability to pass voluntary euthanasia laws because ACT Senator Zed Seselja is against it.
"I did originally try to include the ACT in it, but in my conversations with Senator Zed Seselja he wasn't keen to do that," the NT Senator was quoted as saying. "If Zed's not interested and not going to support it, I don't think it would be worth doing. I'd be better off just doing it for the NT."
Three years ago, the chief ministers of both the ACT and the Northern Territory took out a full-page newspaper advertisement, calling on federal senators to restore their jurisdictions' rights on the issue.
"Voting for this bill doesn't mean there will be assisted dying in the NT or the ACT. It will simply give Territorians the same right to decide on it as other Australians," the advert read.
Both territories argued together then. There is no argument for different treatment between the two today.
Senator Seselja is out of step with his Liberal colleagues in the ACT Assembly. They have indicated that Members of the Assembly in Civic, voting according to individual consciences, are the right people to decide and not Senator Seselja.
He has indicated in the past he wants to block the ACT Legislative Assembly's powers when it comes to euthanasia but not on other issues. It's hard to see the logic of that position.
He has been quiet on the issue recently - except apparently in private to Senator McMahon. He should come out and spell out his reasoning.
And the Liberal Party at a federal level should not go down the route of differential treatment for territories with similar-sized populations.
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