Voluntary assisted dying laws pass in NSW

Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich (second from right), who introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill last year, pictured with parliamentary supporters of the bill. Photo: Alex Greenwich/Facebook.

By DAMIEN NOVAK

Terminally ill people in NSW can finally end their suffering at a time of their choosing, after the NSW Upper House passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill today.

After a lengthy parliamentary debate, which saw MPs wade through almost 100 amendments last night and today, the bill secured 23 votes in favour and 15 against.

Both Labor and the ruling Coalition allowed members to make a conscience vote on the bill.

The majority of the amendments were voted down, including the controversial proposal to give aged facilities the power to block voluntary assisted dying occurring on their premises.  

The bill was finally passed into law just before 1pm. Yesterday, pundits expected the bill to pass last night but debate ran overtime. The government asked the house to sit past its usual 12am shutdown but Robert Borsak, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party — an opponent of the bill — objected.

‘Motivated by love’

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was introduced into the Lower House by independent MP and Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, in October last year.

Labor MLC Adam Searle, a supporter of the bill, thanked euthanasia supporters this today and said the outcome was motivated by love.

“I want to acknowledge the suffering of those who died waiting for this compassionate measure,” he told the Lower House shortly after the bill passed.

“Opponents of this bill have said this about the killing of innocent persons.

“We are motivated by love, by respect, by compassion and because we think ultimately these choices should be for the person concerned as well as their families … It reflects an enhanced respect for life.”

By contrast, NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope described the outcome as “a dark day” for NSW.

The Coalition MP predicted history would judge it as a “dreadful mistake”.

NSW joins other states

The decision means NSW has now joined all other Australian states in allowing voluntary assisted dying.

The ACT and Northern Territory, however, have not passed voluntary assisted dying into law. Under federal legislation, the territories are not allowed to debate the matter.

The ALP has promised it will try and change that if it wins in Saturday’s federal election – but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that he has no intention of allowing the territories to vote on the laws should the Liberal Party retain government.

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