On Sunday 13 December 2020, Alex Greenwich, Independent Member for Sydney, announced in a Sydney Morning Herald exclusive that he will draft legislation to create a framework for people in New South Wales to access voluntary assisted dying.
Mr Greenwich said the issue of assisted dying is a crucial conversation that the NSW Parliament needs to begin.
“Momentum for voluntary assisted dying for those with a painful terminal illness continues to build, both in Australia and globally,” says Mr Greenwich.
“Throughout this year my constituents have regularly raised with me the need for New South Wales to join other states in providing the option, with safeguards, for people with a painful and cruel terminal illness to die with dignity.”
Voluntary Assisted dying is now law in Victoria and Western Australia, and Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland are expected to follow soon. New Zealand’s voluntary assisted dying bill recently passed parliament after a successful referendum.
“While a final bill and debate will be some time away, I hope my colleagues will start having conversations with their communities about assisted dying and listen to the stories from those who are or have been affected. This is an issue that touches every one of us,” says Mr Greenwich.
“Western Australia provides a good model for reform, improving on the successful Victorian legislation. Access is available to people who have a disease, illness or medical condition that will cause death within six months – or 12 months for neurodegenerative conditions – and where suffering cannot be tolerably relieved. It includes strong safeguards against coercion and allows doctors to conscientiously object.
“The final bill I will bring to the NSW Parliament will incorporate the most successful elements of existing legislation and be further informed by the law reform and expert review processes occurring in Queensland and Tasmania.
“This is a highly emotive issue, and I want to assure my fellow MPs that I will work with everyone across the political spectrum towards a consultative and respectful process.
“I will ensure we address the concerns of colleagues, so that together we can seek to provide relief to those who are facing painful and degenerative terminal illnesses.”
The announcement made front page news on the Sunday and featured prominently on ABC and Channel 9 news. The media interest lasted for days and put the issue of assisted dying laws in NSW back on the political agenda.
Dying with Dignity NSW President, Penny Hackett said the announcement brings hope for terminally ill people in NSW who may be facing prolonged and unbearable suffering at the end of their life.
“We’re so pleased to hear that Alex Greenwich MP is committed to progressing this law reform because every day that NSW Parliament ignores this issue, more terminally ill people will die badly, even with the best palliative care, and more families will be traumatised having to watch their loved ones suffer.”
“It’s time for NSW to get this done,” said Ms Hackett.
On the back of Mr Greenwich’s announcement, Dying with Dignity NSW launched a new petition calling on supportive MPs within NSW Parliament to start working together on an assisted dying Bill in 2021 can be found here – https://dwdnsw.nationbuilder.com/petition_2020