On Wednesday 23 February 2022, Labor’s Adam Searle delivered a powerful, opening Second Reading speech to commence debate of the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill 2021 in the Legislative Council.
The VAD Bill has already passed in the Legislative Assembly with a convincing majority of 52 to 32 votes on 26 November 2021.
It has been a long, three months, waiting for the next stage of this law reform but we knew nothing could happen until the Upper House Inquiry Report was tabled, and that happened yesterday. Fortunately the Report recommended that the Legislative Council proceed to consider the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021.
Dying with Dignity NSW is now calling on the Legislative Council to treat this reform as a matter of urgency and ensure there is enough time to debate the Bill in full during March.
There are terminally ill people in NSW right now who don’t want to endure a prolonged and painful death. Every day that Parliament delays the passage of this reform – more terminally ill people will be forced to endure needless suffering at the end of their lives.
One of a record number of co-sponsors, Adam Searle has carriage of the Bill in the Upper House.
“This is an extremely important issue, one that is long overdue for being addressed in NSW,” said Mr Searle.
“The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 establishes, in the safest and most protective way provided by any like regime of which I am aware, the right for certain terminally ill persons to request and receive assistance to end their lives voluntarily, with medical help, by the administration of a lethal substance. The NSW Bill provides patients with the choice between self-administration and practitioner administration. No-one else can administer. Medical practitioners, health facilities or healthcare providers have the right, under this Bill, to conscientiously object to providing assistance.
“As the author of the Bill, the mover in the Other Place, Mr Alex Greenwich MP for Sydney, put it: this is no ordinary bill. It has majority community support across the State and among people of different ages, cultures and religions. It has 28 co-sponsors across the Parliament – the highest number of co-sponsors any Bill has had within an Australian Parliament – in both Houses and across all parties and the spectrum of political opinion.
“Voluntary assisted dying laws are well overdue in NSW.
“Our friends, family and neighbours across the State have been calling for voluntary assisted dying laws for some time.”
Dying with Dignity NSW believes it is critical that NSW Parliament make debating the VAD Bill a top priority.
There are no sitting weeks in April, and no one wants this Bill dragging on for months.
Dying with Dignity advocates are calling on the Legislative Council to allocate extra sitting days to allow the VAD Bill to be given the consideration it deserves – or allocate existing Government time to ensure the Bill is debated in full next month.
Last year we saw the leaders of both major parties come together to ensure the Bill was given appropriate time in the Lower House. We want to see the same kind of leadership this year.