Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese is to give personal support for the push to grant the ACT the right to legislate on voluntary euthanasia in a speech attacking the "roadblock" opposition of ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja.
The issue of the territory's right to legislate is a burning issue in Canberra and front and centre in Mr Albanese's speech to the ACT Labor conference on Saturday. Both the ACT and the Northern Territory have been unable to determine their own laws on voluntary assisted dying since Federal Parliament in 1997, led by Liberal MP Kevin Andrews, overturned briefly existing euthanasia laws in the NT.
In the speech, seen by The Canberra Times, the Opposition Leader will also slam the government for its handling of the pandemic, announce a Labor senate candidate and say the next election cannot come soon enough.
But Mr Albanese has taken a position for the first time on the issue of territory rights in taking a shot at one of the main opponents of change - Senator Seselja.
"He is a roadblock to the territory's right to legislate," the Labor Leader will say to the Canberra audience.
"On euthanasia, he has let his own beliefs stand in the way of the democratic rights of the many.
"It is only too fitting that the Liberal Party's ACT senator is a microcosm of his entire party - and, indeed, of his entire government.
"One man who has shirked his responsibilities as an elected representative."
The ALP is yet to form a party position on territory rights related to voluntary-assisted dying.
There is a renewed push, with voluntary euthanasia becoming law across Australian states, to restore the ACT and the Northern Territory's power to make their own laws on euthanasia.
NT Country Liberal Sam McMahon is proposing a bill allow the NT parliament to make its own laws. It was to have been for both territories, but Senator McMahon revealed that she excluded the ACT from her draft bill after Senator Seselja indicated he wouldn't support it.
Senator Seselja has a well-known personal objection to euthanasia and is the subject of an online petition by ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher.
"Senator Gallagher is playing politics with an issue of life and death where there are differing views within the community," the Liberal senator and minister said in a statement.
The New South Wales parliament is preparing to soon debate voluntary assisted dying laws drafted by Sydney MP Alex Greenwich. If passed in NSW, it could create a two system dilemma for border residents.
Mr Albanese will announce a 20-year veteran of diplomacy and foreign affairs, Janaline Oh, as an ACT Labor candidate for the Senate.
He sounds impatient for the next election.
"An election that, for Australia's sake, cannot come soon enough," he is expected to say.
The Labor Leader says Australia's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are in lockdown and Prime Minister Scott Morrison is refusing to take responsibility.
"He says its not a race. But it is a race and we are losing it," he will say.
"Right now, more than 10 million people - nearly half the population of Australia - are paying the price of this government's negligence."
He is to reiterate Labor's four-point "plan to beat COVID" by, fixing the vaccine rollout, building fit-for-purpose national quarantine, promoting an effective public information campaign on vaccines and manufacturing mRNA vaccines in Australia.
Getting to the point of manufacturing mRNA vaccines domestically may take years, but Mr Albanese says a signal along that path must be made.
"Just as Labor values have been the right ones for the crisis, they will be the right ones for the recovery," he will say.
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: