Yesterday, the Restoring Territory Rights Bill passed the House of Representatives and will now proceed to the Senate. Importantly, leading opponents of assisted dying, including Liberal senators Eric Abetz and Zed Seselja no longer hold Senate seats giving the Bill a good chance of success.
The Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022 was introduced by Labor backbenchers — Canberra’s Alicia Payne and Darwin’s Luke Gosling with the aim to free both the ACT and NT from the Commonwealth’s ban on voluntary assisted dying.
Known as the “Andrews laws”, the 1997 Euthanasia Laws Act banned the ACT and NT from legalising euthanasia following the NT becoming the first jurisdiction in the world to legalise euthanasia with the passing of the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT).
At the time, opponents were suggesting that the Northern Territory would become the suicide capital of the world.
Advocacy peak body Catholic Health Australia is warning that the Bill now before the Senate has a single purpose – to allow the Territories to pass assisted suicide and euthanasia laws – not to provide equal powers with the states.
CHA Director of Strategy & Mission Brigid Meney is urging Senators to think carefully before voting for such a Bill.
“The Restoring Territory Rights Bill is nothing more than a Trojan Horse for assisted suicide. It is beholden on Parliamentarians to be upfront about the true motives of this legislation,” Ms Meney said.
“It is disappointing that politicians are so quick to lend their support to a Bill that sanctions the ending of life but have been largely silent at the very real lack of funding by the Commonwealth for palliative care services in the last budget.
“We urge Senators to reconsider their support for such a Bill which will send a bleak message to the vulnerable in the community that their lives are no longer valued by the Commonwealth Government.
“At the very least, there must be a referral to a Senate committee that investigates the access and affordability of palliative care services in the territories. This would show whether a ‘choice’ in end-of-life care is truly something that can even be delivered on,’ Ms Meney added.