Resumed from 20November. The Deputy Chair of Committees (Hon Dr Steve Thomas) in the chair; Hon Stephen Dawson (Minister for Environment) in charge of the bill.

Comments and speeches from various members

New clause 9A —


Page 10, after line 5 — To insert —

9A. Registered health practitioner not to initiate discussion about voluntary assisted dying

(1) A registered health practitioner who provides health services or professional care services to a person must not, in the course of providing those services to the person —

(a) initiate discussion with the person that is in substance about voluntary assisted dying; or

(b) in substance, suggest voluntary assisted dying to the person.

(2) Nothing in subsection(1) prevents a registered health practitioner from providing information about voluntary assisted dying to a person at the person’s request.

Comments and speeches from various members

Hon ALISON XAMON: I have given this matter quite a lot of thought because I have also been concerned about the power relationship, but from a different perspective. It occurs to me that much of the unwanted pressure on people to consider voluntary assisted dying, when they otherwise may not be inclined to do that, could come from the people immediately around them—family members, for example, and people who may mean well but should not be interfering. When we look at the concerns that have been raised by myself and others in this place around the possibility of elder abuse, with inheritance impatience, for example, we see concern about pressure coming to bear, particularly from people close to someone who may be living with a terminal illness. As such, I hope that it would be better that the information around voluntary assisted dying was first relayed to somebody through a medical practitioner who is bound by a code of ethics, and who is expected to conduct themselves in a particular way. Indeed, if that is then presented, somebody might be in a better position to get the full range of information that they require in a setting that will hopefully be more at arm’s length than with a family member who may have something to personally gain by their death. I have reached the decision that I will not support the amendment as proposed, although I respect that it has been put forward in good faith. It is important that we acknowledge the potential for a power dynamic that may not be positive. I suppose, on balance, I am more concerned about an adverse power dynamic that may come from family members, as opposed to somebody who is bound by professional ethics.

Comments and speeches from various members

The CHAIR: Members, we are contemplating the proposed new clause moved by Hon Martin Pritchard. I am about to put the question, but we need to clarify that. I also clarify that I think it is quite proper that we have allowed the Committee of the Whole to contemplate an alternative amendment that deals with substantively the same issues. However, if and when we get to that in due course, I hope that members will concede that a large part of that debate has been had. I do not want it to get repetitive.


New clause put and a division taken, the Chair casting his vote with the noes, with the following result —

Ayes (9)

Noes (23)

New clause thus negatived.

Comments and speeches from various members

Committee interrupted, pursuant to standing orders.


Parliamentary Type: