They represent different political parties, and led the ACT at different points in its 32 years of self-government.
They disagree on many things, sometimes bitterly and publicly.
But the politicians who have held the territory's top political post agree on one thing: the ACT deserves the right to decide its own fate on euthanasia laws.
In an unprecedented show of unity, the five living former ACT chief ministers have joined Andrew Barr in backing The Canberra Times' campaign calling for a repeal of the nearly 25-year-old law which blocks the Legislative Assembly from passing - or even debating - voluntary assisted dying laws.
MORE FROM THE 'OUR RIGHT TO DECIDE' CAMPAIGN:
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- Push to put euthanasia bill on Labor campaign agenda
- 'I couldn't walk away from her': Why Mary-Anne stood by her mother
- NT senator lashes Labor's 'false' Zed euthanasia attack
- ACT would pass 'most extreme' euthanasia laws if given chance: Zed Seselja
The former leaders hold different views on euthanasia. Jon Stanhope, the ACT's longest-serving chief minister, is an opponent.
But there is a clear consensus that Australia's capital territory should no longer be denied the rights of states to have the debate.
'I was horrified'
Liberal Kate Carnell was chief minister when Kevin Andrews' private member's bill to overturn the NT laws which legalised voluntary assisted dying, and prevent the ACT from doing the same, passed Federal Parliament in March 1997.
Mr Andrews, an avowed opponent of voluntary euthanasia, had argued the Commonwealth couldn't allow decisions of live or death to be taken by small jurisdictions which had no upper houses of parliament.
Ms Carnell didn't buy the argument at the time. She certainly doesn't accept it now, particularly as more states move to do what Mr Andrews believed only immature parliaments would contemplate - legalise voluntary assisted dying.
"I was horrified, and incredibly disappointed," Ms Carnell said this week of the passage of what became known as the Andrews Bill.
"It was an unintended use of federal power. The capacity of the Federal Parliament to override the will and the wishes of the people of the territories was never meant to be used for this purpose.
"It should never have happened, and it's amazing that through various changes of government it has never been repealed."
Ms Carnell said there was a contradiction, even at that time, in the Commonwealth entrusting the ACT to manage a multibillion-dollar budget, run public hospitals and schools and oversee major infrastructure - yet not allow it to legislate on one issue.
Rosemary Follett, the ACT's first chief minister, said Mr Andrews' intervention was "cynical" and out of step with how the Commonwealth had envisaged and approached self-government up to that point.
"From 1989, the Commonwealth progressively handed us more responsibilities. It [the Andrews Bill] was just a bizarre turn of events. I was just appalled that they even countenanced doing it."
Gary Humphries, among three Liberal ACT chief ministers, likened the Andrews Bill to an act of betrayal.
"It was a terribly, terribly patronising view that it [Federal Parliament] took of the ACT, which, with the passage of time, has proven to be untenable," he said.
'Completely separate issues'
Many supporters of the Andrews Bill believe the issue of territory rights and voluntary assisted dying cannot be divorced.
Liberal senator Eric Abetz, a prominent supporter of the Andrews Bill, this month told The Canberra Times that it was because of the "gravity" of assisted dying that it was appropriate and necessary for the Commonwealth to use its constitutional power to intervene in 1997.
But Mr Stanhope, who led Labor governments for almost a decade, believes the two issues are "completely separate".
He personally opposes voluntary euthanasia, not for religious reasons but because of personal experience with people at the end of their life.
Speaking as a former head of the ACT Hospice and Palliative Care Society, and as the husband of a palliative care nurse, Mr Stanhope says he has no doubt that if euthanasia become lawful then vulnerable Canberrans would be "bullied and pressured" into agreeing to consent to ending their life.
But, like federal Labor MP David Smith, his objection to voluntary assisted dying doesn't prevent him from believing the ACT should have the power to legalise it.
"It is clear and unarguable that we should have the right," he says.
"To exclude from the ACT the single right or power in relation to euthanasia ... on any objective basis or analysis ... is just silly - it is absurd. It should be corrected."
Mr Stanhope, now a vocal critic of the ACT government, said Labor couldn't ignore the role its federal parliamentarians played in backing the Andrews Bill, and in voting against David Leyonhjelm's 2018 legislation which would have repealed it.
He sees a certain hypocrisy in the fact that some of the loudest advocates for territory rights also voted in Federal Parliament to strip Norfolk Island of self-government. It must not be forgotten, he says, that the Andrews Bill also banned Norfolk Island from legislating on assisted dying.
'From a lack of interest to disdain and contempt'
Mr Humphries, who served a decade in the Senate between 2003 and 2013, is surprised and disappointed the Andrews Bill remains remains on the statute books.
He believes part of the reason it has survived almost two-and-a-half decades is that federal parliamentarians from outside the two territories have not wanted to be seen to be advocating for Canberra.
"There has always been something ranging from a lack of interest in the territories all the way through to outright disdain and contempt," he says.
"There's a kind of herd mentality - they like to criticise the centre of power."
There is a view among the chief ministers that it remains a matter of not if, but when Kevin Andrews' bill will be overturned and the ACT Legislative Assembly will be returned the right to make euthanasia laws.
David Leyonhjelm's bill was defeated by just two votes in the Senate, but the level of support in the lower house was never tested.
Mr Barr believes the presence of more "progressive thinking or federalist" members in the lower house after the next election would help the ACT's cause.
But the tipping point is likely to be if and when NSW and Queensland join the other states in passing voluntary assisted dying laws.
"If you're in a position where the only jurisdictions that don't have voluntary assisted dying are the territories, then that makes the Andrews Bill completely untenable," he said.
'This isn't who we are as Australians'
Labor senator Katy Gallagher, who served as chief minister between the Stanhope and Barr governments, is now at the coalface of the fight to restore the ACT's right to decide.
Having co-sponsored a 2016 bill to restore territory rights, which was never debated, Senator Gallagher is now pushing for federal Labor to commit to prioritising debate on the Andrews Bill if it wins the next election.
Asked this week why she believes now is the time to overturn the ban, Senator Gallagher said: "It is less about timing, and more about trying to get the job done as soon as we can."
"It is just one of those things that you've just got to consistently raise. It's not about a particular time, it's about making change happen and sometimes change requires consistency and continuous campaigning."
ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne this week urged Canberrans to use their voices to create a "roar which couldn't be ignored".
For Ms Carnell, the message should resonate as much with parliamentarians who don't represent the ACT or the NT as those who do.
"Right at the moment, as we debate our response to Covid and other things, we talk about the importance of operating as Australians, rather than parochially," she says.
"Treating territories differently, for no good reason, isn't in line with who we are as Australians. It's important that other members of Parliament take this on.
"This is important because Australia is one country."
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