Queenslanders will get their say on euthanasia as issues paper tabled

QUEENSLANDERS are being asked for their views on euthanasia as part of a historic and wide-ranging review into aged, palliative and terminally ill care.

The issues paper, to be tabled in Parliament today, will ask Queenslanders to consider contentious issues such as whether voluntary assisted dying should be available in the state, how it should be defined, under what circumstances a person should be eligible to access VAD and whether or not it should be limited to persons aged over 18.

The community will have until April 15 to respond before the committee embarks on a series of public hearings across the state.

Parliament’s Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee was last year tasked with conducted the year-long inquiry.

Committee chair Aaron Harper said there had been 51 attempts nationwide to bring in voluntary-assisted dying laws but it had never before been attempted to in Queensland.

“It’s historical, it’s significant. We want to hear the views of the Queenslanders,” he said.

Mr Harper said a New Zealand inquiry into voluntary assisted-dying received more than 30,000 submissions.

“We are expecting this to be one of the biggest (in Queensland),” he said.

“No one wants to see people suffer at the end of their life so how do we better care for people. This has got to be an option that we ask Queenslanders to present views on.”

Mr Harper said the committee had already begun work and would be sharing information with the Royal Commission into Aged Care currently under way nationwide.

Deputy Chair Mark McArdle said Queenslanders were being asked to respond to part or all of the issues covered in the paper.

“Each segment will be dealt with as a very important component of the inquiry. There’s no one segment more important than the other,” he said.

“The input of Queenslanders whether they are a doctor, a nurse or a parent or indeed a spouse of those who have passed away, their views are critical.”

Greens MP Michael Berkman, who also sits on the committee, said the time was right for Queensland to look at end-of-life care issues such as VAD.

“The conversation, particularly around voluntary assisted dying is one that Queenslanders have been ready to have for quite a while but it is obviously an emotive and contentious issue,” he said.

The committee will look at euthanasia legislation within Australia as well as overseas.

It will report back in November with the option open to suggest new laws to the House.

Whether any new laws will be implemented this term is unclear with speculation the Government could refer the issue to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, as happened with abortion reform, before coming back to Parliament following the next election.

 

Sarah Vogler, Courier Mail, 14 February 2019

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