The architect of the world-first euthanasia laws which were quashed by the Andrews Bill says the ACT and NT need to launch a more "cohesive and coordinated" campaign to force its repeal, admitting he's been disappointed by recent efforts.
Marshall Perron, who as chief minister spearheaded the laws which legalised voluntary assisted dying in the NT in 1995, has called on politicians from the two territories to do more to push for their local parliaments to again have the right to debate the issue.
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Mr Perron characterised the territory rights campaign in recent years as a "ramshackle series of unrelated press releases and whatever", which had lacked a "coordinated force" pressing for change.
Responding to Mr Perron's comments, ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said the two territories had a "strong history" of working together to advance their shared cause, citing a recent letter she co-wrote with NT Attorney-General Selena Uibo to the Morrison government.
The two territory governments also campaigned together to support David Leyonhjelm's 2018 bill. After that bill was defeated, ACT Labor MP Andrew Leigh partnered with NT colleague Luke Gosling on their own push to restore the territories' right to decide.
Mr Perron spoke to The Canberra Times as part of its Our Right to Decide campaign, which is calling on the Federal Parliament to repeal the law which prevents the ACT and NT from legislating on voluntary euthanasia.
The Country Liberal chief minister was responsible for drafting and introducing the laws which made the NT the first jurisdiction in the world to allow voluntary assisted dying.
Mr Perron famously announced in the 24 hours before his bill was debated in the NT parliament that he would resign the following Monday, in order to guarantee that the vote would be "untainted" by his position.
The NT laws were in place for less than a year before they were overturned by Kevin Andrews' private member's bill, which also blocked the ACT and Norfolk Island from legalising euthanasia.
Mr Perron said his anger at the passage of the Andrews Bill in 1996 was exacerbated by the fact that the NT laws had already survived a Supreme Court challenge and avoided being struck down by the Governor General.
"The law, at that point, should have been completely safe," he said.
"The senate should have protected us. The senate being the states' house, it's the body that should have taken the view that this is about democracy, it's not really about voluntary assisted dying at all."
Mr Perron soon joined the movement advocating for the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying across Australia - where, more than two decades later, he remains a prominent voice.
Mr Perron said the passage of voluntary assisted laws in Victoria in 2017 had "changed everything", effectively defeating the argument that only small and relatively new parliaments would contemplate legalising assisted dying.
WA, Tasmania and South Australia have all since followed suit, while Queensland and NSW are expected to debate their own legislation in the coming months.
Despite the national momentum, the Morrison government has offered no indication that it is prepared to open the door to a repeal of the Andrews Bill.
Mr Perron feared that Prime Minister Scott Morrison's own religious beliefs would cause him to "stonewall" any renewed push to allow debate in parliament.
In the face of that resistance, Mr Perron believed parliamentarians from the ACT and NT - state and federal - needed to put up a stronger, more united and consistent argument.
"We've got two chief ministers of the same political persuasion and all the resources of two territory governments, we've got nine federal parliamentarians," he said.
"You would think that with that core force in the federal parliament, who all have relationships with their colleagues, that you would have seen a more coordinated, concerted effort on this issue.
"It seems, in the past few years, to have been a ramshackle series of unrelated press releases and whatever.
"There hasn't been a coordinated force."
Mr Perron welcomed the push from Labor Senator Katy Gallagher and her ACT colleagues to have a commitment to prioritise debate on a repeal of the Andrews Bill included in her party's election platform.
But he said it was a shame that the promise "hadn't been made five years ago".
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