The matter of voluntary assisted dying is complex, often conflicted and needs to be given well-informed consideration.
It is a matter that needs to be handled with the utmost care and compassion.
The responsibility of whether this legislation passes into law will rest with this House and as I have previously said, that is a responsibility which bears considerable weight on all Members of the House.
Debate on the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) 2020 Bill will commence tomorrow and Sarah Courtney as the Member for Bass, not as a Government Minister, will have carriage of the Bill.
In order to provide an opportunity for all Members to contribute, and for them to express their intent on the legislation, the Parliament will sit an additional day this Friday to enable the second reading speech and related debate to occur.
Should the Bill pass its second reading on Friday, to ensure sufficient time is provided through the Committee stage with the agreement of the House, the Bill will become the first order of business for the House when the Parliament resumes next year.
I have advised previously that I have requested the University of Tasmania establish an Independent Review Panel to consider the legislation and to provide members with information regarding how this legislation compares to similar laws in other States and around the world.
The focus of consideration being the protections in place for those most vulnerable in our society, and the Terms of Reference will be available later today on the University of Tasmania’s website.
The University, independent from Government, have selected their panel with members from the University across a range of relevant disciplines: Panel Chair, Professor Richard Eccleston, Professor Fran McInerney, Professor Marg Otlowski and Associate Professor, Jenny Presser.
The Review Panel’s findings will be provided to all Members of Parliament later in February next year, and it is the Government’s intention that the Committee stage of the Bill will commence shortly thereafter, as the first order of business upon the resumption of Parliament, subject to the agreement of the House.
To be clear, it is not the Government’s intention to delay the implementation of the legislation by postponing the committee stage to early next year.
This will allow sufficient time for our Government agencies to provide advice on implementation of the Bill, as well as for the University to complete their independent review, including seeking stakeholder submissions on the Bill as it is now presented.
It is my intention that should the Bill pass its second reading in the House of Assembly, that an amendment to the Bill be moved during the committee stage which if supported will denote the effective start date for the 18 month time period as the end of the second reading debate in this house.
The consideration of this legislation is a very significant responsibility. We owe it to all Tasmanians to ensure that we treat this very important matter, and the views shared, with the utmost respect.