Compelling speeches support Victorian bill through to committee stage
After nearly two weeks of strong campaigning by supporters and opponents of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, following passage of the bill in the Victorian Lower House (by a vote of 47 to 37). debate began in the Victorian Upper House on 2 November. Two days of emotionally-charged debate occured before The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed the second reading in the Legislative Council, by 22 votes to 18.
The bill now moves to the committee stage, where the bill is reviewed clause by clause, and MPs can ask the government questions and propose amendments to the bill. There is no time limit on the committee stage. Colleen Hartland says “This will likely be a long and complicated process…. This process will start when parliament sits next, on Tuesday 14 November. ”
Click for Sydney Morning Herald article 11 November 2017 ‘High stakes in voluntary assisted dying debate‘
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford (pictured here with Premier Daniel Andrews) gave a moving speech to the Legislative Council, recounting the tragic tale of her daughter, Sinead, who died of cancer soon after the 2014 election. Ms Pulford had voted against assisted dying when it was debated in Victoria’s parliament in 2008, a time when she “knew very little about death”. But she said she would have no difficulty voting yes to this bill, “having learned more about death and dying than I ever cared to”. Click for ‘Minister brings house to tears with speech on her daughter’s ‘good death’‘ in The Age 2 November 2017
In 2008, Greens MP Colleen Hartland introduced a private member’s bill, the Medical Treatment (Physician Assisted Dying) Bill, to the Victorian Upper House. Like many private members bills, it was unsuccessful. Colleen Hartland has continued to campaign on the issue of voluntary assisted dying ever since, and following is her excellent speech to the Legislative Council on 2 November 2017.
Labor MP Harriet Shing abandoned her prepared speech and spoke from the heart about caring for her brother Patrick as his body was racked with pain by aggressive prostate cancer that spread to his bones. “We were hopeless and helpless,” she said. “I used to hear him weeping in his room at night when he thought I couldn’t hear. Click for the transcript of Ms Shing’s speech
Labor MP Khalil Eideh, an Alawite Muslim, supported the bill after weeks of refusing to declare his position.
Liberal MPs, Bruce Atkinson (Legislative Council chair) and Simon Ramsay cast the decisive votes to allow the bill to pass through to the committee stage, where they have said they will demand amendments to the bill. Simon Ramsay said he requires a reduction in the life expectancy time limit in the bill from 12 to six months, but allow an exception for motor neurone disease.
The final vote in the Victorian Upper House on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill is expected to be very close. If changes are made to the bill, it will need to be ratified by the Lower House, before becoming law.
Click for ‘Victoria’s assisted dying bill may be only two weeks from becoming law‘ 4 November 2014 in The Weekend Australian
For more details of the history and politics of the assisted dying campaign in Victoria see ‘Inside the debate over Victoria’s assisted dying bill‘ from The Saturday Paper 28 October 2017
Neil Francis of DyingForChoice.com has analysed the Hansard record of votes by political party on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in the Victorian lower house, which make for compelling reading in his article ‘Coalition the ‘unrepresentative swill’ on VAD‘ posted on 30 October 2017.
Click for Victorian Legislative Council 2 November 2017 see pages 7-25, 35-75 & 108-134 for The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
Click for Victorian Legislative Council 3 November_2017 see pages 1-21 & 30-47 for The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
Related posts on DWD NSW website
Click for ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed by Victoria’s Lower House after 26-hour debate‘ 20 October 2017
Click for ‘Victorian MPs insist on amendments to pass assisted dying bill‘ 31 October 2017
Click for ‘Debate on Victorian Bill begins today‘ 16 October 2017