In response to the Queensland Parliamentary Health Committee’s recommendation supporting legislation to allow Voluntary Assisted Dying, Michael Berkman is calling on Queensland Labor to legislate before the next election, starting with recalling Parliament:
Greens MP Michael Berkman said:
“The timing of this report is very strange indeed, but this is a really important issue.
“Even under a pandemic life goes on, in all its tragic and sometimes painful complexity.
“We can't ignore the suffering of those with a severe and incurable disease, and their right to choose the nature and timing of their own passing.
“The government is rightly focussed on the response to COVID-19, but we can’t let this issue slip either.
“As a member of the Health Committee I heard heartbreaking evidence from people who watched their loved ones suffer needlessly before their death. We deserve better than this.
“It’s clear that the Committee's recommendation reflects the overwhelming view of Queenslanders, and it is now up to the Queensland Government to introduce a Bill and legislate for VAD as soon as possible.
“The LNP has made clear they oppose VAD, and we can’t risk this issue being put off indefinitely if there is a change of government in October. This is yet another reason why the Premier must recall Parliament and ensure it sits as regularly as possible this year, so we can all get on with our jobs.
“There is no doubt that palliative care in Queensland needs an enormous injection of funding to ensure all of us can access the best care at the end of our lives. It’s simply not good enough that Queenslanders, particularly in rural and remote communities, aren’t able to access this care. But there is ample evidence that even the best palliative care will not alleviate all suffering for all patients.
“When faced with severe and incurable disease, each of us deserves the right to choose to die with dignity, on our own terms.
After an inquiry spanning 16 months that received nearly 5000 submissions and heard from hundreds of witnesses at more than 40 public hearings across the state, the Parliamentary Health Committee has recommended that Queensland Parliament legislate a scheme for Voluntary Assisted Dying.
Michael Berkman’s additional comments on the report can be found on page 197.
The Committee has prepared a separate report on Aged Care, Palliative Care and End-of-life Care, so the report on VAD marks the end of one of the most significant inquiries ever undertaken by a parliamentary committee in Queensland.