Gallagher fires shot across Seselja’s bow over euthanasia rights law

Dominic Giannini 13 July 2021 41
Katy Gallagher

ACT Senator Katy Gallagher has called for the reinstatement of the ACT’s right to vote on euthanasia. Photo: Auspic.

ACT Senator and former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says her Liberal counterpart, Zed Seselja, is failing to put the democratic rights of Territorians ahead of personal ideology under the new Territory rights bill.

Senator Gallagher said Senator Seselja was stubborn for stonewalling a renewed push to give the ACT and Northern Territory the right to legislate on euthanasia.

“Zed Seselja always prioritises his own conservative personal views over the majority views of his electorate,” she said.

“The fact that he is deliberately blocking one of his own Coalition colleagues from including the ACT in a private senators’ bill to restore territory rights is telling about who he’s really in politics for – himself.

“He’s previously been at odds with the majority of Canberrans on key issues like marriage equality or the light rail project, he doesn’t want to see real action on climate change and now he can’t even put his own views aside to protect the democratic rights of ACT residents.”

Senator Gallagher has now launched a petition through her personal website calling for Senator Seselja to support legislation allowing the ACT to legislate on voluntary assisted dying.

“It is not fair that someone who lives in Queanbeyan should have more democratic rights than someone who lives five minutes away in Kingston,” an email from Senator Gallagher to her constituents said.

ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee is also continuing to hold discussions with Senator Seselja over the issue after she, on behalf of the Canberra Liberals, signed a letter to all Australian MPs and Senators requesting the Legislative Assembly’s ability to legislate on voluntary assisted dying be restored.

While views about voluntary assisted dying in the local party room are split, the Canberra Liberals unanimously endorsed the motion to give the ACT to right to vote on the issue.

Zed Seselja

ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja does not want the Euthanasia Laws Act to be repealed. Photo: Region Media.

The issue was put back on the table last week when outgoing Coalition Senator for the Northern Territory, Sam McMahon, announced she would move a private member’s bill to reinstate the right to legislate on the issue in the NT after both territories were stripped of the right under the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997.

However, the ACT was left out by Senator McMahon after she said Senator Seselja was “not keen” to include the ACT in the bill.

READ ALSO: Is there a pollie out there who can tell the truth and act in the public good?

Senator Seselja has previously stated that he was against reinstating the territories’ right to legislate on the issue as he saw it as a pathway to legalising voluntary assisted dying under the current ACT Government.

Ms McMahon has since said she has received an overwhelming response from people in Canberra who want the ACT added to her bill.

Senators can introduce amendments to the private member’s bill, but it remains unclear if Senator Gallagher will move to add the ACT to the bill.

Senator Gallagher has previously said she would not decide on a bill that had not been drafted yet.

She said it would be a hard path for Senator McMahon’s bill even to make it to debate on the Senate floor after she lost pre-selection and would not be returning after the next election.

READ MORE: ACT leaders may take battle for euthanasia laws to the UN

Senator Gallagher introduced a similar bill to the Senate in 2016 which included both territories. It remains on the Notice Paper.

A vote to repeal the laws was narrowly defeated 36 to 34 votes in the Senate in 2018.

Senator Seselja’s office has been contacted for comment in light of the petition. A spokesperson for the Senator previously told Region Media, “the Senator’s views on euthanasia are well known and have not changed”.

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41 Responses to Gallagher fires shot across Seselja’s bow over euthanasia rights law
Martin Budden Martin Budden 12:13 pm 15 Jul 21

We are supposed to have full separation of church and state. Religious views have no place in politics.

    Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 9:15 am 18 Jul 21

    Martin Budden oh dear - you should get your facts straight- separation of church and state was originally bc politics was not to be in churches ! 🤦🏽‍♀️

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 11:26 am 15 Jul 21

"To Thine own self be true!" zed DOES represent a number of ordinary citizens!!

GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 10:25 pm 14 Jul 21

Hmmm that will work – present Senator Seselja with a petition asking him to do his job and represent the will of the ACT people on VAD rather than follow his religious views. Oh wait – didn’t we try that with the plebiscite on same sex marriage? That went well.
Also I didn’t know that Senator Gallagher introduced a similar, but not yet debated, bill in 2016. So what chance Senator McMahon’s bill will ever see the light of day?
Even if Senator Seselja had the inclination to vote in favour of the bill, he would probably have difficulty getting approval to vote that way from his political masters.
The issue we create for ourselves in Canberra, Is that we continue to elect one Senator of each breed and they cancel each other’s vote – thus making them impotent on Territory rights.
We need two good independents who will be able to use the weight of their vote to the benefit of the ACT. It’s a far cry from politicians actually working for the good of the country but that seems to be the name of the game for independents these days – so ACT should join the parade.
I thought we might have had a chance with Anthony Pesic, who seemed like a credible independent alternative for the right. Unfortunately, he didn’t get up and anyway, I didn’t see any credible independent alternative for the left.

    chewy14 chewy14 1:31 pm 15 Jul 21

    We definitely agree on your point around independents and more swing voting and I would say the exact same thing applies at the HOR and Territory level as well.

    Far too many rusted on supporters here that lead to some of our governance problems as well as how much we get ignored by all parties because the seats are seen as very safe.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 9:00 pm 15 Jul 21

    Yes, chewy24, I agree that ideally the ACT should also send independents to the HoR as well, but I think that’s a bridge too fa. As you probably know, history has shown it’s much harder for an independent to win a lower house seat than a position in the Senate. Knowing that two independent ACT votes could influence the control of the Senate, should be enough incentive to convince ACT electors to break the Liberal/Labor nexus. Alas I think the issue of rusted on supporters is too entrenched

Charlie Karmenu Flask Charlie Karmenu Flask 8:33 pm 14 Jul 21

He's a gutless wonder. Maybe Canberrans will remember this at the next election

    Michael McDonald Michael McDonald 2:19 pm 15 Jul 21

    Charlie Karmenu Flask nope. we're doomed to one red and one blue senator forever.

Jenny McInnes Jenny McInnes 8:01 pm 14 Jul 21

YES!! I am in suport of this legislation.

Mark Monterosso Mark Monterosso 7:47 pm 14 Jul 21

I reckon Zed will ask for a referendum on assisted dying saying this is a decision for the people and he will pledge to support the result ... then at the last minute, well, you know.

    Jenny McInnes Jenny McInnes 8:02 pm 14 Jul 21

    Mark Monterosso I do not think he would even ask for a referendum.

Frank Koch Frank Koch 7:15 pm 14 Jul 21

Good on her I’m with her but does he have the right to his beliefs

    Charlie Karlsen Charlie Karlsen 4:36 pm 19 Jul 21

    Frank Koch But not to impose those beliefs on the majority of his constituents.

Catalina Banksworth Catalina Banksworth 7:09 pm 14 Jul 21

Well done!!!!!

Tom Allen Tom Allen 4:37 pm 14 Jul 21

Now katy knows best. Pity about the abs houses by back

protea protea 1:46 pm 14 Jul 21

Please vote Zed out at the first opportunity.

Judith White Judith White 12:59 pm 14 Jul 21

This report is quite misleading. It appears to be about euthanasia, which a lot of people would support, when in fact, it seems to be an umbrella petition about territory rights.... As I would support a bill for voluntary assisted dying, but not necessarily, all the demands (rights) of the local ACT government, which should really be a city council (imv)

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 12:22 pm 15 Jul 21

    Judith White we should get rid of state & territory governments: they are an unnecessary and expensive extra layer of government. Then, Canberra can have a city council.

    Jon Rooks Jon Rooks 6:10 pm 16 Jul 21

    Judith White. I agree that a city or mayoral shire is probably all that is appropriate for our size but we lost that choice decades ago so I don’t really see the point of the continuing discussion about it. Work with what we’ve got eh!?

    Judith White Judith White 9:16 pm 16 Jul 21

    Martin Budden Well, that's something to think about!

    Judith White Judith White 9:19 pm 16 Jul 21

    Jon Rooks My objection is the misleading nature of the article. At first glance, you'd think it was actually about voluntary euthanasia, which a lot of people would support, but it's actually about total states' rights...

    Jon Rooks Jon Rooks 9:50 am 17 Jul 21

    Ah, fair enough

Jeannou Zoides Jeannou Zoides 12:27 pm 14 Jul 21

Go for it Kate Seseljs is just trying to flex his little muscles over our Labour Government he needs to stay behind his NSW border line and dictate his advice to where he was elected even if he got through to Federal ACT is not his electorate

    Geoff Richardson Geoff Richardson 12:52 pm 14 Jul 21

    Jeannou Zoides nice story, lacking in facts. Seselja is a LNP senator for the ACT, which gives him the right to talk about affairs within the electorate he was elected to represent!!

    Tony Hirst Tony Hirst 1:41 pm 14 Jul 21

    I still don't like him lol

    Nathan Burraston Nathan Burraston 12:36 pm 16 Jul 21

    Jeannou Zoides Zed is a senator for the ACT.

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 11:55 am 14 Jul 21

How’s a petition going to force him to support it? He seems very firm on his beliefs when it comes to this topic.

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 12:13 pm 14 Jul 21

    Richard Willcoxson it doesn't force him to do anything, but it does highlight that he is not representing his electorate.

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 3:41 am 15 Jul 21

    Martin what make you think he is not supporting the majority of his electorate?

    Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 10:54 am 15 Jul 21

    Daniel Duncan euthanasia is a personal choice, not a political one. It shouldn’t be in the hands of religious nutjobs who seem to get a real thrill watching terminal patients die a slow lingering and often a very painful death.

Christopher Cuba Rabanal Christopher Cuba Rabanal 11:41 am 14 Jul 21

Do we know the reason why, Zed is not supporting the bill on Assisted dying?

    Ailsa Turrell Ailsa Turrell 12:08 pm 14 Jul 21

    Christopher Cuba Rabanal he is a Catholic

    Bernadette Bryant Bernadette Bryant 10:04 am 15 Jul 21

    Ailsa Turrell I'm sorry Ailsa but being a 'Catholic' is not the reason! There are many compassionate Catholic's with less conservative social views! I would say he isn't supporting the bill because his personal views take precedence over his responsibility to represent his electorate. Being a Catholic allows for the primacy of conscience!

    Ailsa Turrell Ailsa Turrell 10:43 am 15 Jul 21

    I agree but he has stated that is his reason

    Michael McDonald Michael McDonald 2:17 pm 15 Jul 21

    Ailsa Turrell That's nice. He's also a politician, so he should do his damn job.

Martin Budden Martin Budden 11:23 am 14 Jul 21

You can sign the petition here:

Ian K. Ward Ian K. Ward 11:13 am 14 Jul 21

I am Not a Katy Gallagher fan But I feel Zed Seselja has lost the feelings of the Territory on this matter .

    Tony Hirst Tony Hirst 1:38 pm 14 Jul 21

    Ian K. Ward he never had the feeling from the start just the pay

Liz Hughes Liz Hughes 10:49 am 14 Jul 21

Well done Katy 💪

Kirsty Smith Kirsty Smith 10:17 am 14 Jul 21

Good on her

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:47 am 14 Jul 21

I knew we had another Senator for the ACT and now I know the name of that person. Thanks for that Dominic.

And she’s very capable with possessing the skills of organising a petition. We are lucky to have her.

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