18 April 2023

Is voluntary assisted dying for 16 and 17 year olds a bridge too far for the ACT?

| Ross Solly
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David Pocock.

Senator David Pocock strongly advocated the ACT’s fight for VAD. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The architect of Australia’s first Voluntary Assisted Dying Laws believes the ACT is uniquely placed to lead the rest of the country when it finally puts to the vote what the process might look like in Canberra.

Marshall Perron, who as Chief Minister of the Northern Territory 27 years ago set the hounds running by introducing Australia’s first euthanasia laws, strongly believes Canberrans would support laws that would give 16 and 17 year olds with a terminal illness, and people with non-life threatening illnesses, access to VAD.

But ACT Independent Senator David Pocock, who played a significant role in getting the ACT the right to even vote on VAD, is not so sure. He heard from a lot of people while he was campaigning ahead of the last election, and then when he identified the Territory’s right to vote on VAD as a major issue.

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Very few of those expressed an appetite for anything more than the laws currently in place around the rest of Australia. That is, VAD for 18-year-olds and over, and only for those with terminal illnesses.

The ACT Government has indicated it is considering lowering the age below 18. It stipulates in its discussion paper that it should only apply to “mature” teenagers, and there would need to be lots of other safeguards in place.

Perron agrees. He said parental approval and support would be a must, and there would need to be mental health checks carried out. His list of non-terminal illnesses that might be included on a qualifying list for VAD included Parkinson’s Disease and chronic, incurable pain conditions.

Perron believes the ACT Government, which he describes as one of the most progressive in the country, is ideally suited to push the envelope on assisted dying. He points out that, internationally, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about what he is advocating and that many European countries have had these laws in place for some time.

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There is clearly a majority of supporters in the legislative assembly for VAD. A handful would have no problem adopting what Marshall Perron believes is the logical next step. After all, the ACT is also looking at the possibility of involving nurse practitioners in the administering process, which is a step largely untested in Australia.

Other MLAs, though, may think long and hard about whether this is the right thing to do.

For sure, there will be some nervousness about how far to push Canberrans on this. Polls have clearly shown majority support for VAD, but the test of how far those laws should go has not been carried out yet.

There is the risk that opening the door for more people to end their lives, and especially 16 and 17 year olds, may be a bridge too far for some. It will add a controversial aspect to a community discussion that could easily have crossed the finish line without barely raising a sweat.

A consultation period began in early February and came to an end earlier this month. A ‘listening report’ summarising the mood of the community is expected soon. Then we will get an understanding of whether Marshall Perron is right, and whether the ACT is ready to go where no other Australian State or Territory has gone before.

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Its really simple – when you play God, youre in dangerous waters.

Its funny how the green left seem to be keen to support pretty much every objectionable thing you can think of…….something in that I think.

Some interesting, yet fallacious, generalisations, stevew77.

“when you play God”
Australia plus all states and territories, are secular democracies, so religion and spirituality are not criteria used in the legislative process. You are free to follow your particular flavour of dogma, but as former Senator, now Mr, Seselja discovered, you are not free to inflict that dogma on others.

“the green left seem to be keen to support pretty much every objectionable thing you can think of”
While you may find it objectionable, as is your right, polling has consistently shown the majority of Canberrans support VAD. Generally in the 70-80 percentile, which, must include a substantial number of conservative voters.

And yet Canberra is predominately a left wing town, so I doubt very much conservatives support it.

I do come from a faith background, however over the years as people have moved away from God, society has slowly got worse. People talk of abortion and same sex marriage as “progression”. Many people I know thing many things in society are broken. Canberra is a bublle, its not the real world. Legislating new levels of human foolishness is throwing petrol on a bonfire of vanities.

We see things getting worse. Progressing to what? Hell on earth. Likely. If you look back into the early days of Christainity, there were pagan gods like Moloch where children were sacrified in the flames to a pagan god…..do we see a modern equivalent?

So in many ways we are in fact regressing to barbarism, yet the deluded ones who are ignorant, or worse, those who are evil and know full well what they are doing, would say its freedom. Freedom for hedonism and barbarism…..thats slavery for humans to regress to be no better than animals, and we are much better than that. We were built to be so much better than that……

There is a scripture that sums up the modern version of a death cult that now pervades our society – we have the death of common sense, the death of all that is natural, and the slow death of the protection of our children.

Such a society cannot stand, it will fall. We shall reap as we have sown……

Prov 8:36 “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

Oh OK, so you respond to my statement of fact that we are a secular democracy with more of your ‘hellfire and brimstone’ dogma.

Mind you, it seems the likes at you are pretty quick to throw around the quotes of denunciation from The Book, but rarely follow the simple ethos of Matthew 7:1
– “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

and as Jesus so eruditely observed in John 8:7
– “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

“Thou shalt not kill” ( Ex 20:13 )

Suicide is killing of self.

The problem is, when you allow people to be trigger happy and play God, it always ends badly.

“When you kill one person its murder, when govts kill 1000s its called foreign policy….”

Old joke…..

How ever, if govts effectively *enable* self killing of 1000s, then the blood of those people are upon the Govt hands.

God will not be mocked, they shall reap as they sew. You , also, i think understand that.

Its not dogma, its areasoned response from a faith perspective.

I have seen many million-to-1 events in my life to know God us very real. Jesus also told us the Devil is real. Death is the Devils stock in trade, ergo …. Choose wisely whom you shall serve, is it God, or the Devil?

The beauty of democracy, stevw77, is it affords you the freedom to worship whatever entity you desire.

Democracy does not entitle you to impose your religious, spiritual or otherworldiness dogma or faith on the rest of us.

By all means, don’t avail yourself of access to VAD – just don’t tell me I can’t, if I wish to do so.

Where did I say that you cant?

Youre grandstanding.

How about assisted sacking for politicians, through a swift kick in the rear end

The government doesn’t think any individual is competent enough to risk a reparatory virus that they’re going to get eventually anyway. How is thinking an individual can decide to end their life in any way a coherent position?

What is a “reparatory” virus?

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