• 17:11
  • 03.06.2020
Why is euthanasia debate taking so long?

Why is euthanasia debate taking so long?

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Exhausted pollies let out a tired cheer in Victoria this afternoon after passing the hundredth clause of an excruciating debate on assisted dying.
The bleary-eyed Upper house MPs have been at it for more than 24 hours straight after many of them rocked up to work with pillows and toothbrushes yesterday.
The proposed laws state terminally ill people with less than six months to live and who are suffering unbearable pain will be able to request lethal medication.
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But what is taking them so long?
Labor say the bill’s opponents are filibustering and deliberately stalling debate.
“When they run out of argument, they just keep regurgitating either extracts from articles or try to delay the passage of the legislation,” Leader of the government in the Legislative Council, Gavin Jennings told The Australian.
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“If people were actually wanting to amend this legislation to improve it, good on them ... It’s when they keep going over the same ground again and again.”
And, it not even the first time the Upper House has discussed the bill. The debate was suspended last week when an MP collapsed at the end of an exhausting 26-hour sitting.
“I have spent hours answering repetitious questions, listening to repetitious contributions, speeches that cover a lot of ground that we have actually covered,” Mr Jennings told parliament.
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It’s got so bad, that Labor are even considering using gag orders or a “closure motion” to speed up debate.
“The fatigue, the sleep deprivation, does cloud the judgement and one’s alertness,” Liberal MP and voluntary euthanasia opponent Inga Peulich told the house this morning.
She wanted an adjournment but Labor’s Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford insisted the government was going to “finish this”.
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“We’re going to keep going,” Ms Pulford told ABC radio.
“There is, I think, a quite clear majority support for this reform in the parliament.”
However, MPs this morning argued over the security of the locked box the lethal medication would come in, how to protect patients from coercion, and whether assisted dying would be listed as the cause of death on a death certificate, according to AAP reports.
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But Reason Party MP Fiona Patten seemed prepared for the marathon effort to go on.
“I have partied for longer than this,” she tweeted on Wednesday morning. The government previously agreed to a number of extra safeguards, including reducing the eligibility time frame, to get the 21 votes needed to push the bill through.
So far, 20 MPs have agreed to vote yes, with at least two others reserving their positions.
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But opponents have tried to delay the bill and push debate out past Christmas.
Victoria isn’t the only state where the debate over assisted dying rages on.
Earlier this week, NSW’s euthanasia bill was voted down by just one vote after a marathon late night sitting in the NSW upper house.
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The law would have provided patients 25 years or older, whose deaths are imminent and are in severe pain, a choice to end their lives. Those backing it said the “fight isn’t over”.
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