The Labor Government of the Australian state of Victoria will introduce legislation into the Parliament next year to legalise assisted suicide. The Labor Party will allow its MPs a conscience vote.
Assisted suicide recently failed in the South Australian Parliament, but only after the Speaker cast the deciding vote. Supporters of change have been buoyed up by their near miss in Adelaide and by a widely publicized campaign orchestrated by media personality Andrew Denton.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is a late convert to the cause of assisted suicide after his father died of cancer earlier this year. “Community sentiment on this issue is changing” he says, “and I know many in Victoria think it’s time we have this debate – a debate that respects people’s views and respects people’s lives.”
A discussion paper will be released for public comment early next year, followed by consultations with stakeholders. The Government expects to introduce the legislation in the second half of 2017.
Victorian Sex Party MP Fiona Patten welcomed the Government’s “bold” move. “Allowing terminally ill people the right to die when they choose with dignity, is not only compassionate but common sense,” she said.