Federal ACT Labor members will push for the party's election platform to include a promise to prioritise debate on repealing the long-standing ban on the territory making its own euthanasia laws.
Labor frontbencher and former ACT chief minister Katy Gallagher said she would "definitely like" the Opposition to make the commitment ahead of the next poll.
While Labor leader Anthony Albanese has thrown his support behind the push to again allow the ACT Legislative Assembly to make laws on voluntary assisted dying, the party has not reached a formal position.
MORE ACT EUTHANASIA DEBATE
Senator Gallagher plans to use her position in the Opposition's senior ranks and the backing of her ACT colleagues to lobby for a commitment.
"I'm in a good position to wage that argument [for a commitment], with the support of my ACT colleagues," she said. "We've got an opportunity in the next couple of months to formalise that in our election policy process.
"I think all of us in the [federal] ACT [Labor] are pretty keen to push that way."
Senator Gallagher made the comments in an interview with The Canberra Times, which is today launching a new campaign calling on Federal Parliament to repeal the near 25-year-old laws which ban the ACT and NT from legislating on voluntary assisted dying.
The Our Right to Decide campaign is asking the leaders of the two major parties - Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mr Albanese - to commit to prioritising debate in parliament on re-instating the two territories' right to decide.
Senator Gallagher doesn't think a commitment from Labor to allow debate on the issue would be controversial. However, she indicated that some of her colleagues would need assurances that they would be allowed a conscience vote.
Labor members Andrew Leigh, Alicia Payne and David Smith all believe the time has come for the so-called Andrews Bill to be repealed.
"I think it's a given that as someone that represents a territory, you should be standing up for people that live in the ACT to have the same rights as people that live in the states," Ms Payne said.
Dr Leigh, who has spearheaded numerous attempts to revoke the ban in recent years, said he "fully expected" a debate on the Andrews Bill would be heard if Labor seized power at the next election.
With voluntary assisted dying either legalised or on the agenda in every Australian state, Dr Leigh said Federal Parliament was now "out of step" with the Australian public.
The long-running calls to restore the territory's right to make assisted dying laws have reignited in the past month, after it emerged the ACT was set to be carved out of a new bill which would allow the NT to legislate on the issue.
The Canberra Times last week reported NT Country Liberal senator Sam McMahon had invited Senator Gallagher to co-sponsor or amend her bill to include the ACT. The draft bill, which The Canberra Times has not seen, is understood to also include amendments which relate to workplace laws and land acquisitions in the NT.
Senator Gallagher has rejected Senator McMahon's offer, insisting the "only way" to reinstate the territories' right to make their own laws would be through a repeal of the Andrews bill.
Mr Smith, who personally opposes euthanasia but backs territory rights, said one of the key arguments for the 1997 ban no longer carried weight.
"When it did occur [the Andrews Bill], the key driver was that the state of debate was at an immature level on euthanasia or voluntary assisted dying. I don't think anyone could suggest that is the case now," he said.
ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said while a federal Labor election win would bolster the cause, she hoped the ban could be overturned quicker.
"There's no reason that the federal government couldn't take some leadership on it now," she said.
"As I've consistently maintained, it's a simple legislative change. I could draft it for them and send it off now. It's not hard."
- This story is part of Our Right To Decide campaign. The Canberra Times is advocating for the ACT to have the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying, like other states.
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