10 May 2022

Pocock vows immediate move to give ACT right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying

| Ian Bushnell
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Three men sitting in a lounge room

Voluntary assisted dying supporters Samuel Whitsed, left, and Sam Delaney with Independent Senate candidate David Pocock. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Independent Senate candidate David Pocock has promised to move a private Senator’s bill to restore the ACT’s right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying in his first weeks in the Senate if he is elected on 21 May.

The pledge is a direct challenge to Liberal Senator Zed Seselja who has refused to support any moves to repeal the so-called Andrews bill that prevents the ACT from legislating on the issue, despite strong support in the Territory for it to have this right.

Mr Pocock said the community had raised the issue repeatedly with him during the campaign.

“Tragically, for some in our community, this is not a debate that can wait,” Mr Pocock said.

“The people I’ve spoken to who have loved ones, or who are themselves facing end-of-life choices, shouldn’t have to face moving interstate to access the full range of rights and dignities afforded to other Australians.”

The ACT has not been able to debate or legislate in the Legislative Assembly on this issue since 1997 when federal Liberal MP Kevin Andrews’ private member’s bill banned the territories from legislating on this matter.

Mr Pocock said that a quarter-century later, the ACT and Northern Territory were the only jurisdictions not to have voluntary assisted dying laws in place or be actively considering legislation in this area.

READ ALSO Seselja ‘not keen’ on restoring the Territory’s right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying

He said that as a matter of equity, people in the ACT should enjoy the same rights as other Australians to consider this issue.

Mr Pocock said he did not intend for the Federal Parliament to debate voluntary assisted dying but to amend the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 and the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 to remove the prohibitions on the ACT and NT governments from legislating on the issue.

“My bill will only invite the Parliament to consider whether the territories should continue to be regarded as second class citizens or whether they should have the autonomy to consider this issue for themselves,” he said.

Mr Pocock said he supported the right of terminally ill people experiencing unrelievable suffering to have a conversation with their doctor about assisted dying.

“I deeply appreciate the range of very personal and deeply held beliefs on this topic,” he said.

“That’s why it’s so important that we, as a community, have the right to respectfully and compassionately consider this issue for ourselves.”

READ ALSO Old bus stop turned street pantry always open to locals in need

In a shot at Senator Seselja who opposes voluntary assisted dying, Mr Pocock said elected representatives should advocate in support of the community’s wishes, not make decisions for them based on personal preferences.

Mr Pocock said he had spoken to hundreds of Canberrans who wanted to address this inequity as a matter of urgency, including 39-year-old Samuel Whitsed, who has a rare stage four terminal cancer and Sam Delaney, who lost his mother Linda “Linny” Delaney in 2019.

“Samuel doesn’t want to suffer in his last months,” Mr Pocock said. “He doesn’t want to move away from his home in order to access voluntary assisted dying in another state. He simply wants to be able to have a conversation with his doctor should his pain become unbearable at the end of his life.”

Linny was diagnosed in 2012 at the age of 58 with early-onset dementia.

Sam said his mother, a nurse, knew from the moment she was diagnosed what was ahead of her and that there was no treatment, no cure, and she would experience immense suffering.

“She didn’t want it and would speak to Sam about how she wished she had the option to die with dignity on her terms,” Mr Pocock said.

“As Sam recalls it, it was those final days that were the hardest, in watching his mother succumb to this vicious disease in pain, and in a way that she would have thought undignified.”

Mr Pocock said that according to recent polling conducted by the Australia Institute, 76 per cent of Australians agree that people with terminal illnesses experiencing unrelievable suffering and who ask to die should be allowed to receive the assistance of doctors to do so.

The same polling said that 76 per cent of Australians believed that territory governments should have the right to consider voluntary assisted dying in their own jurisdictions.

Polling data from National Seniors Australia showed that an even greater proportion of older Australians in the ACT (87.4%) agreed with voluntary assisted dying, Mr Pocock said.

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What a waste of time by clowns. Do they realise that the federal government have the final say and haven’t approved euthanasia? Stupid waste of time to garner votes that will go nowhere

Capital Retro4:33 pm 12 May 22

The ACT Labor/Green Government spent hundreds of thousand of our dollars on a useless court challenge to change the law about ten years ago knowing it would fail but virtue signaling is priceless. (BTW, hard to find a link about this).

If we have political newcomers after the election maybe they can underwrite the cost of the next challenge or start a “go fund me page”?

@Oiledpengu Hmmm not sure who the clown is here. It’s actually the Federal parliament not the Federal government that has the final say on the right of the territories to enact VAD legislation. Pocock is standing for the Senate in Federal parliament. Ergo, if elected, he will have a voice and a vote, in any debate to overturn the Federal parliament legislation currently banning the territories from debating VAD legislation.
Given a majority of ACT constituents are in favour of the ACT LA being able to debate VAD legislation, I’d hardly say it’s a waste of time trying to garner votes on this issue.
Note I said debate VAD legislation – not enact it, because there are a number of ACT constituents who are against VAD, but still want it decided within the ACT LA. Others, like Seselja, are against support for Territory rights, because they are scared that a free and open debate will result in such legislation being passed.

@Capital Retro There you go with your usual misinformation. The reason you can’t find a link about the ACT court challenge to change the law on VAD is due to the fact that it didn’t happen. The court battle was in relation to the ACT LA enacting legislation on civil unions (the precursor to same-sex marriage). It was the NT Asembly that enacted, and subsequently had overturned, euthanasia legislation.

Capital Retro9:44 pm 12 May 22

I wasn’t referring to VAD as a specific example, simply the fact that there are things the Territories can’t do and yet they decided to try it out anyhow. The SSM matter (or “civil unions”) was changed through Federal legislation after the farcical ABS poll.

It wasn’t a case of my “usual misinformation” but more about your “usual mindset”.

“The ACT Labor/Green Government spent hundreds of thousand of our dollars on a useless court challenge to change the law about ten years ago knowing it would fail but virtue signaling is priceless. (BTW, hard to find a link about this).”

This will no doubt surprise you, Capital Retro, but I do actually read what you post.
So now you are trying to turn the specific statement, you made in a thread about VAD in response to another post on euthanasia, into a generalisation. If it was a general statement, why were you trying to find a link about a specific incident that happened about 10 years ago? Oh btw – have you heard of Google? Here’s a hint try “act government v federal government court challenge”

You are right, there are things that the Territories can’t do, such as debate VAD legislation. Which is why there is a discussion, relating to the current Federal election – not the ACT Government, around who will fight for Territory rights on matters such as VAD. We know many Senate candidates who will and we know who won’t.

… and as for the farcical ABS poll on SSM? Even your man, Zed, was in favour of conducting a “public vote”. https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/why-we-should-have-a-samesex-marriage-plebiscite-and-why-ill-vote-no-zed-seselja-20170815-gxwng6.html

Capital Retro9:22 am 11 May 22

While VAD will happen everywhere soon I don’t believe the ACT governmnet, based on their heath management record, has the ability to introduce and implement it.

On health matters generally, David Pocock appears to now be bald which may be by choice. Whatever the reason, he isn’t being a good role model by not wearing a hat. Maybe he needs to investigate cranium melenomas as well as VAD.

If VAD is ever debated, let alone enacted, in the ACT, the local govt will have many models to follow. Not that that is in itself a guarantee that they will get it right.

Health matters? Apart from the fact that he’s inside and didn’t need to have a hat for the interview, Capital Retro, I’ve often seen pics of Pocock wearing a hat. On the other hand, I can’t recall ever seeing a pic of your man, Zed, wearing a hat. You and Zed do know that it’s not only bald people who are diagnosed with melanoma, don’t you?

Capital Retro4:39 pm 11 May 22

I’ve seen pics of him wearing a hat in Zimbabwe. That’s a big help.

Hmmm, Capital Retro, does this (https://www.planetrugby.com/exclusive-david-pocock-excited-by-improving-wallabies/) pic show him in Zimbabwe? Oh wait … is Pocock wearing a hat in front of our very own Parliament House in Canberra? Is that a bigger help for you?

Capital Retro10:11 am 12 May 22

That’s not a hat, it’s a baseball cap. Try again.

You make it sound like Zed and Capital Retro are two different people.

Capital Retro3:07 pm 12 May 22

If you only realised how lucky we are to have Zed as a Senator you would soon see how silly your suggestion is.

Cap – a small, soft hat that often has a hard curved part (called a visor) that extends out over your eyes.

@Capital Retro “If you only realised how lucky we are to have Zed as a Senator …” – we as in you and Zed?

Capital Retro4:39 pm 12 May 22

I’m glad you are wasting a lot of time on your obsession to find fault in what I say. It’s becoming a blood sport with other expert contributors to RiotACT.

Caps do not protect the ears of neck from sunlight by the way.

Actually, Capital Retro, it’s not so much an obsession to find fault in what you say, it’s more about not letting you get away unchallenged with the easily refutable, often malicious, garbage you post. Such as the garbage in this thread where you challenge Pocock for not wearing protection against cranial melanoma (for no reason other than to discredit him). Or in another thread where you posted an abhorrent and fictitious comment that independents (but inferring Picock) will “stop us having children until climate change is sropped”. There’s a lot of right and left wing opinion posted on here that is often goes through

Cont’d … to the keeper. But those from you that get challenged are generally malicious and often totally without fact

Capital Retro9:46 pm 12 May 22

I think you should get a proof reader.

@Capital Retro Fair point. Let’s make a deal – I’ll get a proof reader for my posts, if you get a fact checker for yours. That way, hopefully, my posts will be grammatically correct and, hopefully, your posts will be truthful.

Now he is thinking strategically. Most of Canberra wants access to voluntary assisted dying. Zed opposes it. Zed supporters will not change their vote for an obsessive climate change candidate, but enough may change their vote for a pro-euthanasia candidate. So is this belated conversion to supporting VAD genuine, or just a means to pursue his other Climate200 agendas?

Capital Retro10:56 am 12 May 22

It doesn’t matter what Zed wants, the States and Feds oppose VAD in the Territories and that’s where the pressure should be applied.

Ummm, Capital Retro, your mate Zed is a Fed – isn’t he in the perfect position to apply pressure?

Clever Interrobang6:00 am 11 May 22

Why is riotact pushing for david pocock so much?

Capital Retro3:05 pm 12 May 22

He’s cool, Zed’s not.

Because the authors have an “anyone but Zed” mentality. For the last few elections we’ve heard non stop from them how this time is the time when Zed will get booted.

Strangely they then disappear after the election.

Voluntary assisted dying or ‘you’re old, got Covid, you’re not long for this world, take this.’

Just because that’s how you’d treat the elderly given the chance, does not mean that the rest of society does.

Why does Seselja think he has the right to dictate to us? If the majority wants access to assisted dying, as in other jurisdictions, then we should have it. Just as abortion, gay marriage and other controversial subjects, if people don’t agree with them they don’t have to do them. He is entitled to his religious views but should stop forcing those of us who don’t share them to go without the option of making our own adult choices.

ilovecanberra3:00 pm 10 May 22

That’s great that Pocock supports this. The Greens always have.

The ACT Government doesn’t think people should be able to make their own health and medical decisions. Why is euthanasia different?

ilovecanberra2:59 pm 10 May 22

No. The ACT government gave us the right to have euthanasia. The federal government, particularly Zed Seselja, blocked our right because they could, as they still have some power over territories. See related stories below.

Actually, ilovecanberra, ACT citizens have never had the right to access euthanasia – you are confusing us with the Northern Terrirtory which passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 1995 and enabled 4 terminally-ill citizens to voluntarily end their lives assisted by Dr Philip Nitschke. In 1997, the Federal parliament enacted legislation voiding the NT Act by removing the Territory’s power to pass any law permitting euthanasia – the 1997 legislation also covered the ACT and Norfolk Island. Seselja entered Federal Parliament as Senator for the ACT in 2013, so he was not actually part of the process to remove the ability of Territories to enact euthanasai/VAD legislation. Having said that, Seselja’s views on VAD are well known, and since enetering the Senate, he has consistently voted against attempts by other federal parliamentarians to overturn the 1997 legislation.

@TheSilver So how has the ACT govt prevented you from making health and medical decisions?

How would you describe the last two and a half years?

@TheSilver Difficult during a critical health crisis. I repeat how has the ACT govt prevented you from making health and medical decisions?

What is the difference between a “critical health crisis” and euthanasia? My point isn’t that I’m against euthanasia. I’m against what the government did over the last two years, and the lack of consistency in underlying principles.

@TheSilver You made the comment “The ACT Government doesn’t think people should be able to make their own health and medical decisions.”

@TheSilver I’m still waiting for you to say how the ACT govt prevented you from making health and medical decisions?

Being unable to see a friend who also wants to see me is just but one example.
Being able to exercise.
Being able to be outside in the sunlight.
These are just some. Where you living under a rock?

@TheSilver … and it was for the protection of the whole community. But there probably wasn’t a global health crisis under your rock.

That’s exactly the same argument made against euthanasia. It will trigger social pressure on old people to be killed off.

@TheSilver oh ok … conspiracies all around us, eh? Enough said

What are you talking about? Maybe you should familiarise yourself with some of the arguments others make against euthanasia:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/euthanasia/against/against_1.shtml
“Accepting euthanasia accepts that some lives (those of the disabled or sick) are worth less than others”
“Euthanasia affects other people’s rights, not just those of the patient”
“Moral pressure to free up medical resources”
“Euthanasia may become a cost-effective way to treat the terminally ill”
“Euthanasia exposes vulnerable people to pressure to end their lives”

These are exactly the arguments the ACT government made when it took away people’s ability to make their own health decisions. Again, my point isn’t against euthanasia, but that the ACT government is no position to argue for it.

Yeah right, TheSilver … whatever you want to believe is your right

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