The historic debate of Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill starts in Parliament today.
This week the Victorian Parliament is expected to hold one of its most emotional debates, with all Labor Members given a conscience vote on the legislation.
The Bill – prepared by Minister for Health Jill Hennessy and Attorney-General Martin Pakula – follows an extensive consultation process.
The Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee’s Inquiry into end-of-life choices heard from more than 1,000 Victorians both in person and through its submission process, while the Expert Ministerial Advisory Panel heard from more than 300 stakeholders throughout their consultations.
The legislation before Parliament delivers on the safe and compassionate framework designed by the Ministerial Advisory Panel, chaired by former AMA president and neurosurgeon Brian Owler.
It delivers on all 68 safeguards recommended by the Ministerial Advisory Panel to protect individuals and the community. The safeguards make Victoria’s model the safest, and most conservative, in the world.
The key to this framework is that it is strictly voluntary and self-administered, with doctor administration only available to those who cannot physically administer or digest the medication themselves.
Should the Bill pass Parliament, there will be an 18-month period before access to voluntary assisted dying will start to allow for the preparation of implementation.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“Today is an historic day for our Parliament. We will start an emotional, extensive and robust debate on this important issue – but we are determined to make this debate respectful and considerate of all views.”
“This is about compassion and dignity – and giving Victorians the choice they deserve at the end of their life.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“Victorians have engaged with the formal structures, they engaged on social media, online, on the airwaves and in our newspaper comment sections. They have made it clear they support this legislation and that they want the parliament to vote on this.”
“This week’s debate will deal with the sad reality that Victorians are dying in lonely and violent circumstances –taking their own lives. I hope my Parliamentary colleagues will help me put an end to that.”
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“We have designed these robust laws to give genuine choice for Victorians with a terminal illness, while putting in place rigorous safeguards – including a new oversight body.”
“We hope to see the Victorian Parliament at its very best over the coming weeks as we debate this important piece of legislation.”