Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed by Victoria’s Lower House after 26-hour debate
At just after 11 am today, Friday 20 October, Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed in the Victorian Lower House by a conscience vote of 47 to 37.
Debate began at 9.30 am on Thursday and continued throughout the night, pausing only for two short 30-minute breaks. Deputy Premier James Merlino and five Labor MPs crossed the floor in an attempt to thwart the bill, but were unsuccessful with more than three Coalition MPs, the majority of Labor MPs, two Greens and two independents, all voting in favour.
Politicians debated each of the 141 clauses of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill and proposed more than 300 amendments to the bill, but every single amendment was defeated. According to the ABC “Tempers flared in the chamber during the protracted debate, as those opposed to the bill tried to pass more than a dozen clauses and hundreds of amendments.”
The Australian reported that “Throughout the evening and early morning, the Andrews government ignored repeated requests for adjournments, even as MPs fell asleep in their chairs and the Liberal frontbench raised concerned for staff who have been working for 25 hours straight….Inside the public gallery, supporters and opponents of the plan have kept a vigil, with Andrew Denton present for most of the evening and early morning, and the scheme’s architect Dr Brian Owler present until after 4am.”
According to The Age “There was a short applause in the chamber once the numbers were in, and some MPs wiped tears from their eyes.”
The Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was developed by a ministerial taskforce headed by the former Australian Medical Association President, Professor Brian Owler, following a Parliamentary Inquiry that recommended the introduction of assisted dying laws.
Professor Owler was in the Lower House for much of the debate over the last 26 hours and told Guardian Australia: “The Health Minister [Jill Hennessy] and the Attorney General [Martin Pakula] did an outstanding job highlighting the reasons and rationale for various aspects of the bill and I look forward to having further debate in the Legislative Council. There’s been a lot of time and effort and consultation and discussion put into this, and this debate was a big test. I’m very pleased parliamentarians on all sides of politics were able to see the need [for the law] and the safeguards and thorough nature of the bill.”
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will now go to the 40-member Upper House, where the numbers are also tight, for debate in a fortnight. If passed, the legislation will not come into effect for 18 months to allow for its implementation.
Click for Hansard of Jill Hennessy’s Speech on 21 September 2017 Hansard Victorian Assembly VAD Hennessy 21 September 2017
Click for Victorian Legislative Assembly 17 October 2017 see pages 3050-3136 for The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
Click for Victorian Legislative Assembly 18 October 2017 see pages 3164-3166, 3178-3188 & 3209-3267 for The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
Click for Victorian Legislative Assembly 19 October 2017 see pages 3293-3300 & 3309-3468 for The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
Click for article in The Australian 20 October 2017 ‘Euthanasia bill passes Victorian parliament‘
Click for ABC News report 20 October 2017 ‘Euthanasia: Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passes Victoria’s Lower House after 26-hour debate‘
Click for article in The Age 20 October 2017 ‘Historic euthanasia laws pass Victoria’s lower house after marathon sitting‘
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