ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja has accused his Labor adversary Katy Gallagher of "playing politics with an issue of life and death" after she launched a new campaign attacking his opposition to the ACT's right to legislate on euthanasia.
Senator Gallagher is calling on Canberrans to send Senator Seselja a message that he needs to put their democratic rights above his personal views and support a fresh push to restore territory rights.
Her online petition, which had attracted 1440 signatures as of Friday morning, was launched this week after it emerged the ACT was set to be carved out of a new bill which would again allow the NT parliament to make its own laws on euthanasia.
NT Country Liberal senator Sam McMahon revealed that she excluded the ACT from her draft bill after Senator Seselja - her government colleague - indicated he wouldn't support it.
Senator Seselja's stance, based on his well-known personal objection to euthanasia, prompted a backlash from across the political spectrum.
The new online petition accuses Senator Seselja of "deliberately blocking" the inclusion of the ACT in Senator McMahon's private member's bill.
"Zed Seselja is once again standing in the way of restoring the ACT Legislative Assembly's right to make laws for its own citizens," the petition reads.
"Even the Canberra Liberals in the Legislative Assembly have given their public support to overturning this undemocratic federal law, but Zed stubbornly refuses to stand with them."
In his strongest statements yet on the latest furore over territory rights, Senator Seselja ripped into his long-time Labor foe.
"Senator Gallagher is playing politics with an issue of life and death where there are differing views within the community," he said in a statement.
The Morrison government minister said it was a lie to suggest he intervened to prevent the ACT's inclusion in Senator McMahon's bill, insisting that he had "simply been consistent in the position I have taken to every election I have contested".
Senator Seselja argued that if Senator Gallagher was so passionate about the issue, there was nothing stopping her from introducing her own bill.
Asked to respond to those comments, Senator Gallagher again called on Senator Seselja to put aside his "conservative personal views and back the rights of the people who elect him to public office".
"The simple question before Zed Seselja and the federal parliament is whether or not Canberrans should have the same rights as those who live over the border," she said.
"Last time the issue of territory rights came before the parliament Zed chose to vote against it but that position is unsustainable."
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