Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2010
Date:Tuesday, September 21, 2010
HON ALISON XAMON (East Metropolitan) [9.40 pm]: Thank you, Mr President, I was mindful of the time so that is why I hesitated to stand to speak on the Voluntary Euthanasia Bill 2010 tonight! I just needed to quickly grab my notes.
I have been very interested to hear what a lot of people have been saying tonight. One of the underlying themes that I have been interested to hear from those people who oppose this legislation is that, effectively, people believe that the status quo on voluntary euthanasia is okay. I am not sure that I share that view. I do not believe that the situation as it stands with the way that the laws currently exist is actually okay. I think that is a very important reason that we do discuss this very important issue and I am grateful to Hon Robin Chapple for bringing this on for debate at this time. I, unlike other people who have been in this chamber for some time, have not had the opportunity to speak to this matter before, so I appreciate the opportunity to speak to it now.
I am aware that medical practitioners are currently, in effect, undertaking a form of voluntary euthanasia. That is something that we do know is occurring and it seems to me strange that people seem to want to somehow turn a blind eye to this practice, which effectively leaves our medical practitioners, in my opinion, very vulnerable to the vagaries of the law and the state in terms of whether it does decide to take action. I think that this is an unacceptable situation and that it is about time that we had some certainty around the issue of where people stand if they decide to make a personal choice to bring an end to suffering when they are already at a point in their lives at which they face imminent death.
I agree with something that the Premier said. The Premier made the comment that he believed there was no need for this law—I am paraphrasing—because he believed that euthanasia is ultimately a very private matter and as such it should remain private. In many ways I very much agree with that position. However, where the Premier and I part is that it is precisely because I believe it is a very private matter that I think we do need to structure some sort of regulation, law and parameters around this matter, because I, for one, do not have confidence that the state will respect that this is ultimately a private matter and something that I certainly should be able to undertake myself when the time comes, if need be, and that my family should be able to be free to undertake their own private activities around this.
I am very concerned that we have had some very extremist views from both sides of the debate. To be very clear, I disagree with the Nitschke view of the world, which seems to characterise almost no parameters around the idea of when people can die and for what reasons people choose to die, but, equally, I am offended by those who choose to impose their very extremist and intolerant views on others. I have been very disappointed to read the sometimes extraordinarily ignorant views on what the bill actually proposes and in ways that have been threatening and have also been, in some instances, extraordinarily hateful. Having said that, as I mentioned, if it had been up to me, I would much prefer not to have a bill on this matter. I would much prefer that I could trust that the state would actually allow me and my family to get on with private matters. I will be supporting this bill and my reasons for doing so are simple; that is, I do not trust the state to respect that within close and loving families, voluntary euthanasia is a very personal matter and that it is not state’s place to intervene with that.
Debate adjourned, pursuant to temporary orders.