Education and change needed
The Northern Territory Voluntary Euthanasia Bill of 1996 was one of the most enlightened and visionary pieces of legislation ever passed by our Assembly. It’s overturning in the Federal Parliament by the Kevin Andrews/Tony Burke bill the following year was both callous and cruelly indifferent. For the federal parliament to pass this bill of recission was a denial of Territory rights.
Over time a significant number of people with terminal illnesses have been robbed of natural justice. Many have been forced to endure untoward suffering in their final weeks and months of life.
This denial of a legislative right in the NT continues, notwithstanding that Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and now Queensland have moved in the direction of their own state legislation that embraces euthanasia. Moves are afoot for legislation allowing euthanasia to be introduced into the NSW Parliament.
It is to be hoped that Senator Sam McMahon’s initiative, being prepared for debate in federal parliament to allow the Territory to re-engage on the issue, is successful. If that came to pass, my hope would be that a bill encompassing euthanasia could be re-introduced into the Northern Territory assembly. That would reinstate an entitlement to debate legislation savagely stripped away by Canberra 24 years ago.
Henry Gray (75 years)