A bill to establish voluntary assisted dying laws will be introduced to Queensland Parliament this week.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the bill’s introduction fulfilled a commitment she made before the state election last October.
“For many, this will be the most important work this parliament will do,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We’re committed to delivering a $171 million investment in palliative care options but many people who have watched a loved one suffer feel passionately that there must be a dignified alternative.
“Equally, there are those whose opposition is as deeply and sincerely felt.
“That is why, when the time comes, government MPs will vote according to their conscience.
“This must be beyond politics.
“I urge all Queenslanders to follow the debate and participate in it with the utmost respect for other people and other points of view,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
The Premier said the community could now read the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) report on a legal framework for voluntary assisted dying. The commission’s draft legislation would be considered by cabinet.
The bill will be introduced to parliament and referred to the health and environment committee for further public consultation.
“The commission listened to a range of health practitioners, organisations that support or oppose voluntary assisted dying, religious bodies, unions, legal bodies, members of the public and many more,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“The result is proposed legislation that QLRC has intended to be ‘compassionate, safe and practical’.
“All interested parties will be able to have their say on the final shape of any legal framework through the committee process.”
Deputy Premier Steven Miles said any legislation needed to meet the needs of Queensland’s diverse population and take account of access to specialists.
“The draft legislation recognises everyone has an inherent dignity and should be treated with respect, and their autonomy when making end-of-life choices should also be respected,”
Mr Miles said.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said previous work by parliamentary committees had found health practitioners were generally supportive of voluntary assisted dying and supported it being legalised in Queensland.
“It’s important there are appropriate safeguards in place to protect both those who seek to use voluntary assisted dying as an end-of-life option, and medical practitioners and entities asked to participate in the process,” Ms D’Ath said.
“That’s what the QLRC has sought to accomplish with a staged process.
“Under the draft laws, more than one medical opinion is needed and there are requirements around eligibility and decision-making capability as well as provisions for medical practitioners to conscientiously object.
“These laws are also being developed at the same time as we are advancing our election commitment to invest $171 million to deliver more palliative care options across Queensland,”
Ms D’Ath said.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the QLRC had done an outstanding job in considering the wide views of a diverse range of stakeholders.
“This is a challenging area of law with considerations needing to be given to state and federal legislation,” Ms Fentiman said.
“It is such an important piece of legislation for so many Queenslanders and we need to get it right.
“There will be further significant consultation and I encourage anyone who wants to have a say to do so through the committee process.”
The QLRC has recommended that to access voluntary assisted dying a person must:
• Have an eligible condition that
is advanced and progressive, and
expected to cause death within 12
• Have capacity to make a decision
around end-of-life choices
• Be acting voluntarily and without
• Be at least 18 years of age
• Satisfy residency requirements
including being an Australian citizen
or permanent resident, and being a
Queensland resident for at least a year
Under the process proposed by the QLRC, a health practitioner must assess a request to access voluntary assisted dying and, if that is approved, it is referred for further assessment.
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Next edition we will hear from our local state MPs, Andrew Powell and Jason Hunt.