Australia Update

One third of people in Australia have the choice of legal voluntary assisted dying, through the Victorian and Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Acts. Tasmania and SA passed VAD laws in 2021, which will commence in 2022. Queensland will debate their VAD Bill later in 2021.

 

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The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act was finally passed by both chambers of the South Australian Parliament on June 24, 2021. Following last minute amendments in relation to institutional conscientious objection in the Legislative Council the previous evening, the House of Assembly agreed to the amendment at 11.05am the following morning. There was no debate and no Division called. After 17 attempts since 1993, Voluntary Assisted Dying was finally been passed by the South Australian Parliament. Debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill resumed on March 17, 2021. Hon Kyam Maher, MLC and Shadow Attorney General, tabled the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the Legislative Council on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Hon Susan Close, MP, tabled the same VAD Bill in the House of Assembly on the same day. The VAD Bill was jointly sponsored by Hon Mark Parnell, MLC. The tabling of the VAD Bill followed the 18 month deliberations of the Joint Committee on End of Life Choices which reported to the Parliament in October 2020. (Further details, facebook links to Second Reading speeches and Hansard available here) (Aug 2021)

 

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Queensland became the fifth state to pass a Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill on September 16, 2021. The Parliament voted 61 for and 30 against the Bill, with no amendments accepted during the three day debate. The Queensland Premier, Hon Alexandra Palaszczuk, announced her intention to introduce legislation to legalise voluntary assisted dying during the 2020 election campaign. The legislation was tabled in May 2021. The VAD Bill was referred to a Parliamentary Committee, which reported in August 2021 and recommended that the VAD Bill proceed and be supported by the Parliament. This follows the March 2020 report of an 18 month Parliamentary Inquiry which recommended in favour of introducing a law to allow voluntary assisted dying. A 2021 poll commissioned by the Clem Jones Trust showed majority public support for law reform. (Sept 2021)

 

Independent MP Alex Greenwich announced in Dec 2020 that he would introduce a new Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying. It was anticipated that the VAD Bill would be introduced in August 2021, however parliamentary sittings have been suspended due to the covid emergency in NSW. The current draft Bill was developed following the defeat of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 drafted by a cross-party Parliamentary Working Group on Assisted Dying and introduced in the NSW Parliament by Nationals MLC Trevor Khan in May 2017. It was debated in the upper house in November 2017 but was defeated 20 votes to 19. NSW had expected another VAD Bill to be introduced in 2019, however, a divisive Abortion Law Reform debate in August 2019 saw proponents reluctant to proceed. (Aug 2021)

 

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The Tasmanian Parliament passed the End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Act in March 2021. This was the fourth attempt to pass a VAD law in Tasmania. The Bill passed the Legislative Council unanimously on December 4, 2020, and through the House of Assembly with a 16 to 6 majority on March 4, 2021. HOA amendments were later agreed by the upper house. The Act is expected to commence in late 2022. The Bill was introduced by Tasmanian Independent MLC Mike Gaffney on August 27, 2020, after eight months of consultation around the state. The last Bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying in the Tasmanian Parliament was defeated in May 2016 - the third Bill defeated by the Tasmanian Parliament in the last 10 years. (Aug 2021)

The Victorian Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in November 2017.

Over the following 18 months, Regulations, policies, operating guidelines and training were developed and the Act came into effect on June 19, 2019. Reports, details of the operation of the VAD Review Board, further information, available here. (Mar 2021)

 

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The Speakers of the ACT and NT Parliaments petitioned the Senate President in August to restore Territory rights. 

This followed the earlier defeat of the Leyonhjelm Bill (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/15/euthanasia-bill-in-doubt-as-two-senators-reverse-position) to repeal the Act which prevents Territories legislating for voluntary assisted dying (known as the Andrews Bill). 

 

WA became the second state in Australia to deliver a legal choice of Voluntary Assisted Dying. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed the House of Assembly on Dec 10, 2019, and came into effect on July 1 2021. The WA Parliament conducted a year long Parliamentary Inquiry, followed by an Expert Panel which advised on the detail of the legislation. The Panel included Dr Roger Hunt, SA Palliative Care Physician, who was also a member of the Victorian Government's Expert Panel. The WA Parliament released the report of the Inquiry into End of Life Choices in August 2018. The Inquiry Report recommended the introduction of voluntary assisted dying in WA. (report available here.)   (Aug 2021)

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Further representations are being made by the NT and ACT Governments to overturn the Commonwealth legislation which prohibits the Territories from passing VAD laws. Representatives from the NT Government and Opposition supported a petition to the Senate President to restore Territory rights. The NT Speaker, and government and opposition MPs, travelled to Canberra in August to present the remonstrance motion.    (Aug 2021)

 

VADSA      phone    0421 305 684           email   [email protected]        post    PO Box 2151 Kent Town, SA 5071