Victorian bill passed by the Upper House, with amendments
Debate on the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill began in the Victorian Upper House on 2 November. After two days of emotionally-charged debate the bill passed the second reading by 22 votes to 18, and moved onto the committee stage. This stage began on 14 November and was eventually adjourned just past midday on 17 November, when Labor MP Daniel Mulino collapsed and was taken away in an ambulance. Debate resumed at midday on 21 November, the Upper House’s seventh day considering the bill.
Just after 4 pm on 22 November, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed, with amendments, by the Victorian Upper House, again by a vote of 22 to 18. It was a conscience vote for all MPs. Eleven government MPs backed the bill, as did four Liberals, five Greens, the Reason Party’s Fiona Patten and Vote 1 Local Jobs Party MP James Purcell.
“This is a momentous day in the parliament of Victoria,” Leader of the government in the Legislative Council, Labor MP Gavin Jennings, told the house after the vote today.
The Victorian Premier and sponsor of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, Daniel Andrews, said the state was “one final step away” from legalising assisted dying.
The committee stage of the debate has seen the review of most of the 141 clauses contained in the bill, with many questions and amendments proposed. Whilst the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, and Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, had originally insisted there would be no amendments to the bill, but the government was forced to accept amendments to ensure the passage of the bill through both houses of the Victorian Parliament.
Colleen Hartland MLC, Victorian Greens spokesperson for Health, explained “The only chance we had to get this across the line was to find some middle ground on some aspects of the bill and make some amendments. And although we’ve agreed to some changes to the technicalities of the bill, we’ve worked hard to ensure that under these laws, terminally ill people will have as much control as possible at the end of their lives”. Colleen and her fellow Greens MLC, and Deputy Chair of Legal and Social Issues Committee Inquiry into End of Life Choices, Nina Springle, put together this short video (57 secs) just after the vote was declared.
The most significant amendment agreed was halving the timeframe for eligible patients to access the scheme from 12 months to live, to six months to live, with an exception for those sufferers of conditions such as motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, who will be required to be in the last year of their life. Another amendment was the inclusion of the requirement that a patient must have been an ordinary Victorian resident for a year to be eligible. Voluntary assisted dying will also be recorded on the person’s death certificate as the “manner” of death, which was not included in the original proposal (The cause of death will be recorded as the underlying illness). The Victorian government says that the scheme created by the amended Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will be the most conservative in the world.
According to The Guardian‘s article 22 November 2017 ‘Victoria poised to become first Australian state to legalise assisted dying after historic vote‘, Gavin Jennings MLC, who led the carriage of the bill in the chamber, “accused opponents of filibustering, asking the same questions again and again, and seeking clarifications that had been given multiple times” to try to delay the bill’s passage through the Parliament.
The amended Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill will now go to back to the Lower House for ratification. It is expected that the Lower House will then pass the bill, as members of this house voted 47 to 37 in favour of introducing voluntary assisted dying on 19 October 2017 (after a demanding 26-hour debate).
Click for article in The Age ‘Historic euthanasia laws pass Victorian Upper House‘ 22 November 2017 which includes a lovely short video summary (1.45 mins) by Fairfax Media
Click for ‘Statement on VAD Bill Success‘ by DWD Victoria 23 November 2017
Click for ABC News article 22 November 2017 ‘Voluntary assisted dying bill passes Victoria’s Upper House, state set to make history‘
For the Hansard reports of the various committee stage speeches and the schedule of amendments click here
Related posts on DWD NSW website
Click for ‘Compelling speeches support Victorian bill through to committee stage‘ 11 November
Click for ‘Victorian MPs insist on amendments to pass assisted dying bill‘ 31 October 2017
Click for ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed by Victoria’s Lower House after 26-hour debate‘ 20 October 2017
Click for ‘Debate on Victorian Bill begins today‘ 16 October 2017
Click for ‘Victorian Government Bill in Parliament‘ 22 September 2017