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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

New South Wales parliament prepares for October euthanasia bill debate

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A voluntary euthanasia bill will be introduced to NSW parliament next month which would enable terminally ill residents who have six months or less to live to die on their own terms.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich says he will introduce the bill in October, after consulting with regulators and the health and aged care sectors.

NSW is the only Australian state that has not passed voluntary assisted dying laws.

Federal law prohibits ACT and Northern Territory from establishing such laws.

Amendments accepted by Greenwich include notification of residential aged care providers and the movement of the review process to the NSW Supreme Court.

“I am absolutely determined to get it right, which is why this revised bill draws on best practice in Australia and overseas, along with robust consultation with stakeholders,” Greenwich said in a statement today (Monday).

“I am confident that this bill provides the safest framework for people who are in the last stages of a terminal illness and whose pain and suffering has become unbearable, to get help to end their suffering peacefully, with dignity and surrounded by the people they love.”

The bill would limit access to voluntary assisted dying in NSW to people with terminal illnesses who will die within six months.

If they have a neurodegenerative condition and are experiencing unbearable suffering, that will be extended to 12 months.

No hospitals, facilities or doctors would be forced to participate, but two doctors would have to sign off on the request and they’d be trained to look for signs of coercion, Greenwich says.

MPs from Labor, the Nationals, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, and One Nation will be allowed a conscience vote.

The Liberal Party is yet to outline its position, but Transport Minister Andrew Constance supports a conscience vote.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has previously expressed opposition to voluntary assisted dying, as has Opposition Leader Chris Minns.

Queensland this month passed voluntary assisted dying legislation in a full conscience vote, with the scheme to take effect from 2023.

A National Seniors Australia survey of 3500 people in August found more than 85 per cent either supported or strongly supported giving those with a terminal illness the option to end their lives.

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