By Ray Sinclair

Queenslanders will decide their next government on October 31. One law which won’t be voted on until after the outcome of the election is a euthanasia bill making it legal for people to end their own lives.

But in a surprise announcement at Labor’s campaign launch on Sunday the Premier said if re-elected, her government would introduce voluntary assisted dying legislation within months.

Will the right to die become a duty to die?
Will the right to die become a duty to die? Credit: Photo by Mindful One on / CC BY-NC-ND

In May Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in a speech before Parliament said, voluntary assisted dying is a very complex and deeply personal issue in which competing interests and views of Queenslanders and experts have to be carefully balanced and the lives of our elderly and most vulnerable people protected.

The Parliament’s Health Committee recommended that the draft legislation should be passed.

But the Premier deferred the debate until March 2021.

“There are also a number of operational issues to work through before we can implement any kind of voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland at this time,” she said.

Former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman who is pro-euthanasia, and holds a deep personal understanding of the issue; believes it was just playing politics.

Mr Newman said, his mother, the former Senator for Tasmania, Jocelyn Newman, who served in the Howard government had researched the whole issue of voluntary assisted dying and had voted against her government in the overturning of the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation.

“The final piece of the puzzle is she ended up with Alzheimer’s disease and for five years that poor woman was in high care in a nursing home, and for the last two years in a bed.

“The actions that have been taken by the Premier are political it’s all too hard, and she doesn’t wish to deal with it by the election, and that’s a great pity,” he said.

Those opposing the passing of the legislation are concerned that the law will lead to the elderly feeling a burden.

Graham Preston, Right to Life Australia said, in any instance where a person deliberately takes poison intending to end their life, they are not dying.

“This is voluntary assisted killing,” he said.

Professor of Law, Ben White from the Queensland University of Technology who co-authored the bill said, the importance of ethical principles and how they apply is the basis for the legislation.

“Whether or not there should be a voluntary assisted dying law, and what should it look like. That led to a series of values, things like autonomy, the importance of compassion, relieving human suffering, respect for human life and safeguarding the vulnerable,” he said.

At Sunday’s campaign launch, Ms Palaszczuk pledged $171 million in a new palliative care plan if re-elected, and said she would introduce the long-awaited voluntary assisted dying laws in February.

“This will be a conscience vote for all members of my team, and I hope for all parliamentarians,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The full interview with former Premier Campbell Newman.