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Euthanasia pioneer says Queensland laws good but could go further

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Former Northern Territory chief minister Marshall Perron, who oversaw the introduction of Australia’s first euthanasia regime, backs people’s right to choose.

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In a submission to a Queensland parliamentary committee examining the VAD Bill, Perron commended efforts to fine-tune laws in response to Labor’s promise to provide more options for the terminally-ill.

“I have closely followed the history of attempts to legalise VAD in Australia and elsewhere for 25 years,” Perron wrote.

“Personally, I believe the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 is the best presented to date of those based on terminal illness and suffering.

“Commendably the Bill has been drafted after consideration of the laws passed in Victoria, WA and Tasmania and the history of practice in Victoria. The Queensland bill presents a sensible, pragmatic, and safe regime avoiding a number of problematic issues identified in Victoria and in previous Australian Bills.”

The committee has so far published more than 1,300 submissions on VAD, most from individuals. It is due to report before the end of August to allow for a vote in parliament.

Perron called for the bill to be amended to clarify the eligibility and an “expectation” or “anticipation” of suffering.

“The object of the bill is to allow competent adults the option of hastening their death to relieve unbearable suffering as an act of compassion,” Perron wrote.

“The mental anguish about what inevitably is in store during the trajectory to death is very relevant.”

He also noted that “at this point in time there is no political will to permit VAD for people whose condition is not considered terminal, yet suffer unbearably”.

Euthanasia was legalised in the NT in 1995 but later voided by the Federal Government.

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