End of life care inquiry announced in Queensland

On Sunday 2 September, the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life care that would investigate a wide range of issues including palliative care and assisted dying for terminally ill adults.

Supporters of assisted dying law reform welcomed the announcement made at the Labor Party Conference on the weekend because Queensland is the last state in the country to debate this issue. Speaking on ABC radio, Clem Jones Trust chairman David Muir said the announcement was “not before time”.

“The Premier needs to start this inquiry as soon as possible… and it’s important that the inquiry be an inclusive inquiry to hear all schools of thought,” said Mr Muir.

President of Dying With Dignity Queensland, Jos Hall, said she would like to see Queensland adopt a model similar to Victoria saying, “We would be looking at a very conservative model, with many safeguards, there are over sixty safeguards in the Victorian legislation.”

Like in other states, recent polling showed strong support for voluntary assisted dying in Queensland. According to the Roy Morgan poll undertaken in November 2017, 85% of Queenslanders say doctors should be allowed to ‘give a lethal dose’ to a patient with no chance of recovering.

Although Ms Palaszczuk told the Labor Party Conference the issue had to be confronted, it is unlikely that the parliamentary health committee will begin the end-of-life care inquiry until its moves to change abortion laws are finalised.