Resounding Defeat for NSW Right to Die Bill

Cross-posted from CCSA

The NSW Legislative Council has emphatically rejected a Greens Private Member’s Bill to legalise euthanasia and physician assisted suicide by 23 votes to 13.

“The Bill was comprehensively defeated,” says Greg Donnelly MLC, the well known Labor politician and a member of the NSW upper house since 2005.

While some Labor politicians voted for the Bill, despite Coalition members of the upper house having been given a conscience vote, the entire group unanimously rejected the Bill.

“The Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill 2013” was introduced to the House as a private member’s Bill by Greens politician, Cate Faerhmann earlier this month. Advocating that those who are terminally ill and wish to end their lives, should have the legal right to die either by euthanasia or physician assisted suicide.

The Bill underwent debate in the House following its introduction on 2 May, on Thursday, 9 May and again on Thursday, 23 May when it was soundly defeated.

In a surprise move , before the debate began Cate Faerhmann moved an amendment motion asking that before a vote the Bill be sent to a Legislative Council Committee for further examination.

“This was an arrogant and blatant attempt to keep the Bill alive. No prior consultation was given to members of the House about this amendment, or whether or not they might be interested in such a move,” Greg Donnelly says.

The amendment was voted down and after more debate on the issue, the Bill itself was resoundingly and defeated.

Ironically the defeat comes during Palliative Care Week. Palliative care specialists, experts, psychiatrists and medical staff at Australia’s hospices and hospitals know the value and importance of quality palliative care, pointing out that by using the latest palliative care advances, depression, pain and discomfort can be alleviated and bring peace and comfort to the terminally ill during their final weeks or months.

The Greens however seldom if ever acknowledge the strides made by palliative care and in her  right of reply address in the NSW upper house after the debate had ended, Cate Faerhmann signalled the matter was not over and a similar private members Bill on the right to die would be introduced into the NSW Parliament’s lower house in the near future.

The politicians who will bring the Bill aimed at legalising euthanasia and physician assisted suicide before the state’s Legislative Assembly are the Sydney electorate’s Independent  MP, Lake Macquarie’s Independent member, Greg Piper and the Balmain electorate’s Greens MP Jamie Parker, who so far is the only member of the Greens in the NSW lower house.

“The people who are advancing this new Bill need to think carefully about this if they are not to suffer the sort of overwhelming  defeat such as we have seen this time,” Greg Donnelly says.

Despite having similar bills defeated in state after state including South Australia, Tasmania and some years ago in NSW, Bills advocating the right to die are likely to continue.

Earlier this year Tasmania’s Labor Premier Laura Giddings joined with the state’s Greens leader, Nick McKim to create a discussion paper on the issue and have announced they have created a framework for a Dying with Dignity Bill and intend to introduce it before the end of the year.

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