Sarah Courtney,Liberal Member for Bass
Following a vote by all Members today, I welcome the passing of the Second Reading of the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) 2020 Bill in the House of Assembly.
Today’s vote represents an historic moment for Tasmania, with the majority of the House voting in support of the fundamental principles of the Bill that Tasmanians who are experiencing intolerable suffering due to an advanced, incurable and irreversible medical condition that is expected to cause death, should be empowered to make an informed choice about their end of life, while ensuring rigorous safeguards are in place to protect the vulnerable in our community.
This week, Members have been provided the opportunity to debate the principles of this landmark legislation through the second reading stage, and I sincerely thank all Members for their contributions to the overwhelmingly thoughtful, considered and respectful debate over the past few days on this important matter. I also acknowledge the work of the Member for Mersey, Hon Mike Gaffney MLC, and the Legislative Council in getting the Bill to this stage.
I am proud to be a member of the Liberal Party – a Party that has afforded its members a conscience vote – and I respect the range of views that have been outlined during this debate.
As indicated by the Premier earlier this week, now that Parliament has been adjourned for the year, it is intended that further consideration of the Bill will continue as the first order of business of the House next year, subject to the agreement of the House.
I look forward to the next detailed stage of consideration and scrutiny of the technical details of the Bill through the Committee stage.
This integral part of the parliamentary process is even more important, due to the slightly unusual way this Bill is progressing through the Tasmanian Parliament. As it is not a Government Bill, the Committee stage will enable the specific provisions and clauses of the Bill to be examined in detail, views to be considered and allow for any improvements or amendments to be made.
I am pleased that the University of Tasmania Independent Review Panel has been convened and has commenced work. The Panel findings will be provided to Members early next year and, together with advice from State Government Agencies in relation to implementation, will inform detailed scrutiny of the specific provisions as part of the detailed Committee stage.
Further information about the Panel’s independent review, including information regarding any consultation, may be found here: www.utas.edu.au/vad-review.
It is vitally important that, if the Bill passes, we get it right – Tasmanians expect that we will have the most robust law and appropriate framework possible, and we as parliamentarians must remember we are accountable to our community for the decisions we make.