The widow of the first person to die under the NT's quashed voluntary euthanasia laws has used the 25th anniversary of his passing to demand the Federal Parliament restore the territories' rights to legislate on the contentious subject.
Prostate cancer sufferer Bob Dent's life was ended via lethal injection on September 22, 1996, making him the first person in the NT - and the world - to die by state-sanctioned voluntary euthanasia.
Mr Dent was one of four people to die under the NT regime, before it was quashed by the Federal Parliament in 1997.
The so-called Andrews bill, which banned the NT, ACT and Norfolk Island from making voluntary euthanasia laws in the future, has survived numerous attempts to have it repealed in the past two and a half decades.
Mr Dent's wife, Judy, has become a prominent figure in Australia's voluntary assisted dying movement, advocating for the passage of laws in the states and pushing for territory rights to be restored.
MORE OUR RIGHT TO DECIDE CAMPAIGN
In an interview with The Canberra Times to mark a quarter of a century since her husband's death, Mrs Dent had a blunt message for both the Morrison government and the Federal Parliament.
"Get on with it, and undo the mistake that you made in 1997," she said.
The Canberra Times has been calling for the Andrews bill to be repealed through its Our Right to Decide campaign.
Mrs Dent said the passage of the NT euthanasia laws in May 1995 had provided her dying husband with a "palpable sense of relief ... more palliative than anything the doctors were feeding him".
She has vivid recollections of the anger she felt after Kevin Andrews' private member's bill passed through the Federal Parliament - with the blessing of then Prime Minister John Howard - less than two years later.
"I cannot say the words that went through my head, you cannot print the words that went through my head," she said. "I was not happy."
Debate over the Andrews bill has rekindled in recent months after NT Senator Sam McMahon unveiled draft legislation to restore her territory's right to make its own assisted dying laws.
Senator McMahon chose to exclude the ACT from her bill after her government colleague and fierce euthanasia opponent Zed Seselja signaled that he wouldn't support it.
Mrs Dent said there was "no way" Senator McMahon's bill should be allowed to pass without the ACT being included.
The anniversary of Mr Dent's death falls just a week after Queensland became the fifth state to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
"As each state in turn passes a law, my status becomes even less equal," Mrs Dent said. "I chose to become an Australian. I didn't expect to be a lesser citizen because I live in the NT."
Media personality Andrew Denton, the founder of voluntary euthanasia advocacy group Go Gentle Australia, said Mr Dent would be "amazed" if he knew that 25 years after his death residents in the ACT and NT were still denied to right to access assisted dying.
In a letter to Federal Parliament, dictated to his wife on the day before he died, Mr Dent said he had read with "horror" newspaper stories of Kevin Andrews' attempts to overturn the "most compassionate piece of legislation in the world".
"This wrong must be righted," Mr Denton said this week. "Give the territories back their right to decide what is best for them."
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