Dying with Dignity NSW has welcomed the Report of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice for the Inquiry into the Provisions of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 that was tabled in NSW Parliament on Tuesday 22 February.
The report recommends that the Legislative Council proceed to consider the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Bill 2021.
The Inquiry Report demonstrates that there is no reason for the Legislative Council to delay debating the VAD Bill that passed with a significant majority in the Legislative Assembly in November last year – 52 to 32 votes.
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 March.
As part of the Inquiry process, the Committee called for submissions via an online questionnaire. Of the 39,000 responses to the Inquiry online questionnaire, approximately 70% supported the Bill and 30% opposed. The Committee also received 3,070 written submissions and held three days of public hearings in early December.
While we have been waiting for the debate to commence in the Upper House, one of our strongest advocates, Judith Daley, passed away from terminal lung cancer.
“It was devastating to lose such a fierce VAD advocate, an incredibly inspiring person and a friend,” said Shayne Higson, Vice President of DWD NSW.
Judith Daley featured in Dying with Dignity and Go Gentle Australia’s full-page ads in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph in November last year.
“Sadly, Judith is not the only terminally ill person who has died waiting for NSW Parliament to get this done.”
Labor MLC, Adam Searle has carriage of the VAD Bill in the Upper House. He gave notice of his intention to introduce the Bill straight after the Report was tabled and will deliver his Second Reading speech tomorrow.
“Now that the Upper House Report has recommended that the debate proceeds, there is no reason Parliament cannot get on with the job and debate this Bill as a top priority.
“There are no sitting weeks in April, and no one wants this Bill dragging on any longer than it needs to.
“Every day matters. Every day that NSW Parliament is yet to pass the Bill – more terminally ill people will have to needlessly suffer horrible and agonising deaths.”
“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.”