THERE is a renewed push to introduce voluntary euthanasia in Queensland, just as a politician in The Netherlands has proposed a long-awaited bill to offer healthy Dutch people over-75s the right to ask to die.
Former treasurer Jackie Trad, now backbencher and a key supporter of voluntary euthanasia, has told The Australian newspaper voters deserved to know where the major parties stood on the issue, even though there would be no euthanasia law before the next election in October.
A parliamentary committee in March found that terminally ill people should be allowed to end their lives with the assistance of a doctor, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called in the Queensland Law Reform Commission to prepare draft Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation.
However that draft is not expected until at least next March.
“I have no doubt that as a government, we will do the same thing that we did with the termination of pregnancy and that is to respectfully consider the law reform commission’s suggestions and recommendations and draft legislation and present a bill,” Ms Trad told The Australian.
“Given how far we have come under Annastacia’s leadership on this issue, given that it is Labor Party policy, I think you can be confident Labor will … keep this process.
“What we don’t know is whether the LNP will do the same.”
Ms Trad said VAD would be an election issue because those on both sides of the emotive debate would want firm signals from Labor and the LNP on what the parties would do in government.
It’s likely the LNP would allow its MPs a conscience vote on the controversial euthanasia issue that has split political opinions across the world.
In The Netherlands, one of the first countries to allow euthanasia, politician Pia Dijkstra from the party Democrats 66, is now pushing a new bill after government research revealed that around 10,000 people over 55 have a serious death wish.
Her proposed law would mean healthy over-75s with a strong death wish for at least two months could have the assistance of an “end-of-life supervisor” to die.
A spokesperson for Democrats 66 said the law was “about having the choice at an advanced age, if people consider their lives complete, to be able to die with dignity, with careful help”.
Queensland is the third state after Victoria and Western Australia to go down the path to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
A new group has been launched to oppose euthanasia legislation in Tasmania, with legislation expected to be introduced into the state’s parliament next month.
The party, Live & Die Well, is against euthanasia and argues palliative care services need to be expanded across the state.
Independent MP Mike Gaffney is expected to introduce his “End-of-Life Choices” bill in Tasmania’s upper house in August.