OUR SAY: Why the delay on euthanasia legislation?

COMMENTARY following the failure of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the NSW upper house last week has been perplexing.

Western NSW parliamentary secretary Rick Colless was one of 20 MPs to vote against the legislation on Thursday night, saying he was opposed to taking a person’s life.

That’s fair enough, it is a complex issue and one with permanent consequences if the wrong decision is made about a patient.

It would not be easy for any MP to vote on, given their job is to represent a range of views. 

But to say he expected voluntary euthanasia to become legal after 2019 leads to the question of why it should not simply be done now.

Eighty-one per cent of people in Orange who responded to member for Orange Phil Donato’s survey supported the legislation.

Mr Colless contends the people who responded “didn’t have the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of the bill”.

But that survey did spell out the safeguards, albeit in a general fashion, and there was a link provided so people could read the bill and explore that detail. 

If Mr Colless indeed was not aware of the survey result, it is unfortunate. 

If parliamentarians were not informed enough about the bill, as Mr Colless has implied, the question is, why not?

The next question concerns which safeguards need to be changed to satisfy MPs when they next consider this topic that the wrong decision can’t be made.

After all, the bill would have limited eligibility to those 25 years and older – seven years’ more maturity than they need to drink or vote. 

To argue the legislation would change the way we value life can’t hold because it required the patient to be facing death from their condition within a year anyway, and suffering significantly. 

It was also voluntary – the request had to come from the patient and they had to be deemed of sound mind. 

The request would only be entertained after all other palliative care options had been considered, and signed off by three medical professionals. 

The family would also have had the right to seek an injunction in the NSW Supreme Court. 

If the concern is preventing manipulation of the sign-off process, surely this would be simple to rectify. 

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