Upper house

Voluntary assisted dying bill: New South Wales is the only state to have laws on voluntary euthanasia yet

New South Wales politicians will consider whether terminally ill people should be able to end their own life as a new voluntary assisted dying bill is introduced in parliament this week.

NSW is the only state still legalizing assisted dying after a bill in 2017 was defeated in the Upper House by a vote.

New Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has indicated he will support a conscience vote on the issue, as has Labor leader Chris Minns.

Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who will present the bill on Thursday with 30 co-sponsors – including 12 from Labor – said that while there was strong support for the proposed legislation, he expects the numbers are tight.

Sydney MP Alex Greenwich will introduce the voluntary assisted dying bill on Thursday. (James Brickwood)

“The vote in both houses is going to be tight, and it will be important for me and the reform supporters to engage with every member of parliament,” he told 9News.com.au.

“I really hope we can get it through both chambers this year. But, until we start the debate, I’m really unable to make a call one way or the other.”

Voluntary assisted dying has been legal in Victoria for over two years and in Western Australia for over two months.

The parliaments of three other states – Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland – have also passed bills on assisted dying.

Mr Greenwich said NSW had been able to learn from other states and that amendments had been made to the bill to ensure it had “the strongest, strongest and best possible safeguards”.

The bill was drafted in consultation with the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, the Paramedics Association (NSW), the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Law Society of New South Wales, the Health Services Union, the NSW Ombudsman and providers care for the elderly. , including Unity.

Terminally ill patient resorting to “horrible” means

The bill’s introduction comes as euthanasia advocacy group Dying with Dignity this morning released data showing people who committed suicide in New South Wales in 2019 – and were over the age of 40 years – one in five people had a terminal illness.

“The sad truth is that people with terminal illnesses in New South Wales resort to tragic and often horrific methods to end their lives because their suffering has become unbearable and they have not other choice, ”said Dying with Dignity President Penny Hackett.

A Roy Morgan poll commissioned by Dying with Dignity in 2017 found that 87% of Australians support voluntary assisted dying.

Die with Dignity NSW Vice President Shayne Higson has said she hopes the bill will be successfully passed by the New South Wales parliament this time around.

“There is a kind of sense of inevitability to this because it has been passed in every other state, however, it is the Parliament of New South Wales – anything can happen,” he said. she declared.

Scott Riddle, a father of three in Sydney, has been campaigning for Voluntary Assistance in Dying since 2017, the same year he was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.

The 39-year-old Google executive had an 85% chance of dying within two years of the cancer spreading to his lymph nodes and liver.

Scott Riddle with with his wife Amelia.
Scott Riddle with with his wife Amelia. (Provided)

However, after undergoing intensive treatment, he has been cancer free for two and a half years.

Mr Riddle said the legislation would provide peace of mind to himself and many others.

“There is so much to worry about when you’ve been terminally diagnosed, the nature of your death shouldn’t be one of those things,” he said.

“I’ve been in this position to face a looming bad prognosis and I still have a lot of friends in a similar boat who haven’t done as well as me in terms of progress.

“I think this legislation would give all of these people and myself, if I needed it again, the peace of mind they deserve.

“No one wants to die, but if you get a terminal diagnosis, you’re going to die – it’s just about how you die.”

Scott Riddle had only gone to the GP only to check in his three children Ada, six, Calla, four and Ellis, 16 months with his wife Amelia, 36, when he was eventually diagnosed with cancer.
Scott Riddle had only gone to the GP only to register his three children Ada, six, Calla, four, and Ellis, 16 months with his wife Amelia, 36, when he was eventually diagnosed with cancer. (Provided)

Mr Riddle said it had been frustrating to watch the problem “kick in” for years in New South Wales.

“If I could tell politicians one thing, it’s not something you can just delay for political convenience,” he said.

“This is a real and urgent problem and there is a real cost to delaying this decision.”

Mr Riddle said the issue was also not as controversial as politicians appeared to be.

“If you look at any public poll, there is overwhelming public support. The only place it’s blocked is in the politics of it all.”

Contact reporter Emily McPherson at [email protected]

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