Greg Donnelly MLC
Parliament of New South Wales
29th April 2013
Having failed to obtain the necessary support for physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia legislation in other states and territories the Greens have now turned their attention to New South Wales. Nobody should be surprised. They promised but failed to introduce a bill in 2011 and 2012. With a federal election coming up in just over four months time, now is the perfect time for Greens candidates to build their media profile around an issue that is guaranteed to attract the attention of the public.
Teenagers, and indeed most children, know that it is not wise to agree to something without knowing what you are agreeing to. I found it therefore very perplexing that even before the draft of the Greens Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill 2013 was made available for public scrutiny the emails and letters started to arrive in my office asking me to support the bill. Supporting a bill drafted by the Greens without knowing what is in it; I don’t think so!
We are all fortunate to live in a country with one of the best medical and health care systems available anywhere. We are capable of, and in fact presently deliver, palliative care to the dying that is world class. As a state and country could we spend more on palliative care? Yes. Should we offer better training to our medical students, doctors, specialists, nurses, allied health workers and volunteers regarding palliative care? Yes. Should we look at improving and enhancing how we care and support people as they approach the end of their life? Yes. Is there much more to be done, especially for people living in regional and remote areas? Yes. Should we pass legislation that in effect enables a person to kill themselves or in certain circumstances gives a doctor authority to end life? No.
Some debates in parliament are more important than others. There are significant debates where elected representatives stand at a fork in the road and decide to proceed down one path or the other. The path that is chosen will have major consequences for this and future generations to come. A bad law may not exist forever, but it often lasts a long time and can do a lot of damage to our social fabric. The Greens bill is such a proposal.
I strongly encourage those who oppose physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia legislation to examine the Greens bill and take immediate steps to inform all Legislative Councillors of their view.
It is very important that members of the Legislative Council who will be considering the bill receive a comprehensive and balanced set of views from across the state. You should not assume that somebody who shares your view about this type of legislation will make an effort to contact upper house members.
In emailing or writing, you are not restricted to any length. Your comments can be lengthy and detailed or short and to the point. What is important is that you actually take steps and do something.
While it is true that politicians hold various opinions about physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia legislation, as elected representatives they are responsive to the views of constituents. If those who do not want this type of legislation to come into being remain mute on the issue, politicians may well conclude that there is support in the community for these laws.