The Australian – 28 June 2016
The Greens have promised to table legislation that would legalise euthanasia in the next parliament and has called on the two major parties to allow a free vote on the issue.
The party said it would consult with the medical profession to decide the best termination method, but noted that the favoured method overseas was the oral drug Nembutal.
Senator Richard Di Natale, a former doctor, said in Melbourne yesterday that the legislation would be a priority for the Greens in the next term of parliament.
“We are committing that we are going to do what many other jurisdictions around the world have done, and that is introduce national dying with dignity laws in the next parliament,” Senator Di Natale said.
“We are calling on both the opposition and the government to support a free vote, so that Australians right around the country, if they have a terminal illness, do have an option in their final days of knowing that they won’t die a death that entails so much suffering; that they can say goodbye to their loved ones and have a dignified death in their final days.”
Senator Di Natale said that euthanasia should not replace palliative care, which he argued also needed more investment. “But we also need to give people the choice to end their life with some dignity and that’s what the dying with dignity legislation does,” he said.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide is legal in The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Japan and several US states.
Greens founder Bob Brown said that “polls for decades” had shown that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of Australians backed euthanasia: “This is social justice. It’s about human compassion and kindness, its about the right for people to make up their own minds on what may be the most important decision in their lives, and that is how to have a good death in their own time.”
The Greens promoted the policy in Melbourne’s St Kilda yesterday, where they are trying to unseat Labor’s Michael Danby from the seat of Melbourne Ports.
Mr Danby said he could understand why people would be in favour of euthanasia but thought the Greens’ proposals were “too prescriptive”.
“I would vote with the Labor Party, which is not in favour of this legislation. It is too prescriptive, there hasn’t been a big community debate and, like a lot of Greens’ policies, it is very extreme to prescribe one way,” he said. “Doctors have some powers at the moment to interpret these circumstances and they do. I can tell you from personal experience. People’s circumstances are often taken care of by the medical profession.”