CONSULTATION PAPER ON VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING

Nick McKim MP, Greens LeaderNick McKim MP
Member for Franklin

Today Premier Lara Giddings and I invited Tasmanians to have their say on the ability of people suffering terminal illness to die with dignity, releasing a consultation paper on the matter.

The paper puts forward a model for voluntary assisted dying and is designed to inform public debate, and seek feedback, ahead of the drafting of a joint Private Members Bill later this year.

As I stated when summarising the debate on my Dying with Dignity Bill 2009, the law is meant to protect the quality of our lives while we are alive, and it should also protect the quality of our lives while we are dying. Currently the law fails to do this.

During my first attempt at reform in 2009 I was deeply moved by listening to the experiences of many terminally ill people and their families.  I pledged to them that I would not give up and I haven’t.

- May 2009 – I first introduced my Private Members Bill, the Dying with Dignity Bill 2009

- 18 June 2009 – the Bill was referred to a Joint House Standing  Committee on Community Development

- October 2009 – The Committee delivered its report, (silent on whether voluntary euthanasia should be decriminalised)

- 4 November 2009 – my Private Members Bill, Dying with Dignity Bill, was debated in the House of Assembly.  Defeated 7 to 15 votes.  Some members who voted against he Bill said they support voluntary euthanasia but held concerns about the workability of some aspects of the model presented by that Bill.

Polling has shown that the community strongly supports voluntary assisted dying if an appropriate model, tailored to the needs of Tasmania could be put forward.

For the past two years much time and energy has gone into analysing the models for voluntary assisted dying already operational in Oregon, Washington State, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland as well as recent reviews of the issue in Canada and the UK. We have enlisted the expertise of clinicians, legal experts, and advocacy groups and believe we have now settled upon the most appropriate model for Tasmania. A model that will offer a compassionate solution to those suffering under extremely difficult circumstances.

We believe that we have been able to present a compassionate and best-practice model to regulate voluntary assisted dying which will protect both the patients and their doctors.

We hope that this consultation paper encourages Tasmanians to talk with their families and doctors and come to a position on what their end-of-life expectations are . These are not easy conversations to have, but are important in ensuring that end-of-life wishes are known and respected.

Submissions close on Friday 15 March 2013.  Responses should be sent to GPO Box 123, Hobart, Tasmania 7001 or emailed to premier@dpac.tas.gov.au

Below are links to the discussion paper, it’s companion document which summarises the main points of the paper, the consultations points and a collection of documents that provide a background to this proposed reform.

Voluntary Assisted Dying – A Proposal for Tasmania 2013

Voluntary Assisted Dying – Consultation Points

Voluntary Assisted Dying – Short Companion Paper 2013

background documents

The Conversation: Tasmania could lead the way for voluntary euthanasia laws

2009 Tasmanian Voluntary Euthanasia Poll

How To Regulate Voluntary Euthanasia: Queensland University of Technology Discussion Paper 2012

Nick McKim MP Speech: Dying With Dignity Bill Debate 2009

Uniting Church (Media Release): Voluntary Assisted Dying

The Commission on Assist Dying Report: United Kingdom 2011

Dr Rodney Syme Speech: July 2009

Dying With Dignity Tasmania (Media Release):Consultation Paper Welcome

February 3, 2013