Health Minister backs conscience vote for territories

Mark Butler and Kristy McBain (Mark Butler and Kristy McBain websites)

A conscience vote to allow the Northern Territory and ACT to legalise voluntary euthanasia could be put before federal Parliament within weeks, as Health Minister Mark Butler backed overturning a ban imposed 25 years ago. Source: The Australian.

Local Government and Territories Minister Kristy McBain said she expected her colleagues from Canberra and the NT would bring forward a territory rights bill “as soon as possible”.

While timing is not finalised, legislation could be presented as early as the first sitting fortnight that begins on July 26.

The NT became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia in 1995 and in the nine months the legislation was in force, four people used it to end their lives.

In 1996, former Liberal MP Kevin Andrews introduced a private member’s bill in federal parliament, passed in 1997, which stripped the territories of the right to legalise euthanasia.

Mr Butler, a close ally of Anthony Albanese and a Labor Left heavyweight, said he supported “properly regulated and constructed” voluntary assisted dying laws and the rights of territory parliaments to legislate on matters that impacted people’s health.

The move is likely to deeply divide MPs in both chambers but the 47th parliament is significantly more favourable towards the reforms than when the issue was last voted on in 2018.

Momentum to give the territories the power to make their own laws has been growing as every state around the country legalised voluntary euthanasia.

Legislation is likely to receive majority support in the House of Representatives in the new parliament but a vote could still be tight in the Senate.


Conscience vote on euthanasia in Northern Territory and ACT (By Rosie Lewis, The Australian

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