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

Dominic Giannini 7 July 2021 130
Zed Seselja

ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja does not support reinstating the ACT’s right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying. Photo: Region Media.

It’s been revealed that ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja was “not keen” to include the ACT in a new territory rights bill that would allow the two territories to legislate on voluntary assisted dying.

Outgoing Coalition Senator for the Northern Territory Sam McMahon has announced her intention to introduce a private member’s bill that would reinstate the right to legislate on the issue. The Howard Government stripped both territories of the right under the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997.


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


Senator McMahon told The Sydney Morning Herald that she originally tried to include the ACT in her proposed bill but her conversations with Senator Seselja indicated “he wasn’t keen to do that” so it would be “rude” to progress the issue.

“If Zed’s not interested and not going to support it, I don’t think it would be worth doing. I’d be better off just doing it for the NT,” she’s quoted as saying.

Senator McMahon angered some conservative Coalition members by calling for a conscience vote on the issue without consulting the party before making her announcement.

Senator Seselja, a conservative, 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.

Tara Cheyne

Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said, “Zed only speaks for himself”. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

His reluctance to include the ACT in Senator McMahon’s bill incensed local MLAs, who accused him of neglecting ACT residents.

“Even when invited to speak for Canberrans on an issue as important as Territory rights, Zed only speaks for himself,” ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said.

“By asking NT Senator Sam McMahon to leave the ACT out of her prospective bill to restore Territory rights, Zed has not only abandoned Canberrans but he’s gone against his own colleagues’ wishes and actively and knowingly undermined the ACT Opposition Leader.”

ACT Labor and Greens politicians, and Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee on behalf of the Canberra Liberals, signed a letter to all Australian MPs and Senators alerting them to the Legislative Assembly’s unanimous motion calling for the Assembly’s ability to legislate on voluntary assisted dying to be restored.

Ms Lee says that that the position of the Canberra Liberals is clear after co-signing the Assembly motion.

“I have made the views of the Canberra Liberals Legislative Assembly team very clear to Senator Seselja and will continue to discuss this matter with him and other federal colleagues,” she said.

“The ACT Legislative Assembly is democratically elected by the people of Canberra. It should have the right to legislate on this matter on behalf of Canberrans, just as we have the right to legislate on a whole host of other matters dealt with by state and local governments across Australia.”


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


Ms Cheyne has previously said that the territories’ inability to have their elected representatives legislate on their behalf contravenes Australia’s human rights obligations.

Her view is supported by ACT Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs who said “it is entirely inappropriate for the Commonwealth Parliament to determine a policy setting that is only relevant to the people in the ACT”.

Senator Seselja was not available to answer questions from Region Media about a direct vote on voluntary assisted dying or elected representatives legislating for their constituents.

“The Senator’s views on euthanasia are well known and have not changed,” a spokesperson from Senator Seselja’s office said.

“Individual senators are free to present legislation to the Parliament as they see fit.”

Senator Seselja previously said he was open to an omnibus territory’s rights bill that included the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying.

Katy Gallagher

ACT Senator Katy Gallagher has been a long time advocate for reinstating the ACT’s ability to legislate on voluntary assisted dying. Photo: Auspic.

ACT Labor Senator and former Chief Minister Katy Gallagher introduced a similar bill to the Senate in 2016 which included both territories. It remains on the Notice Paper.

When asked if she would move amendments to include the ACT in Senator McMahon’s bill, Senator Gallagher’s office said it only had media reports on which to base comments as the proposed bill has not been released and she had not been consulted.

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

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


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130 Responses to Seselja ‘not keen’ on restoring the Territory’s right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying
Rob Calvert Rob Calvert 2:01 pm 11 Jul 21

He got less than 3% of the primary vote. So as is typical of this creature he got into parliament on the strength of others. He whiteanted the decent and relatively progressive Garry Humphrey's to get preselected. Only got there though a concerted putsch by the reptiles of the ultra right.

Steve Aust Steve Aust 1:59 pm 10 Jul 21

The headline is wrong. This is what it should say:

Zed Seselja is the worst and he has to go

David Murtagh 10 July 2021

Adam Rolls Adam Rolls 3:57 pm 09 Jul 21

His job is to represent what people of the ACT want. Not what ever he wants to support or oppose. He does this so often. He is the exact opposite of what a politician is supposed to be.

KJ Kruza KJ Kruza 8:02 am 09 Jul 21

It is not your Right to choose our Rights....until you have lived through this anguish watching your loved one die a painful and traumatic death in a "Palliative" setting you will never truly understand.

Christine Pitt Christine Pitt 9:14 pm 08 Jul 21

Zed Seselja — surely as an ACT Senator you cannot stand by whilst your own constituents are given fewer rights than people who happen to live across the border.

You need to put your personal views aside and start supporting those you supposedly represent.

Anthony Quinn Anthony Quinn 7:31 pm 08 Jul 21

How dare you !!... you are elected to do the bidding of the people, not your own personal idiosyncrasies

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:08 pm 08 Jul 21

Some comments here are bordering on hate speech.

Catalina Banksworth Catalina Banksworth 4:20 pm 08 Jul 21

Such inconsequential being

Chantelle Milin Chantelle Milin 11:39 am 08 Jul 21

A perfectly healthy Individual making a decision for those in pain and suffering? How suiting

gordon1 gordon1 8:38 am 08 Jul 21

Well … Here is my view

Back in 2008 I spend 10 weeks in an Nursing-Home doing voluntary work.
It was an eye opener. People that were close to death were put in to darkened room with some soft music playing 24/7 … No food …No drink.
Every now and then … someone would check to see if their gone.
I had 2 friends who killed them self’s …because they did not want to die that way.
One told her family she was going to do it …The send one did it and was found 5 weeks later.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:19 am 08 Jul 21

    They would have been sedated and barely aware of what was going on.

    Many would have advanced dementia which takes away the ability to eat and drink.

    You didn’t learn much about the end of life process did you.

    gordon1 gordon1 10:49 am 08 Jul 21

    Re, You didn’t learn much about the end of life process did you.

    Happy reading …

    Google : Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:37 pm 08 Jul 21

    That claim is almost 10 years old and it specifically relates to the UK.

    People have to die somewhere and I guess most of us in Australia will die in a aged care facility when it is our turn because the family home usually isn’t equipped to handle old age. Placing elderly loved ones in a care facility is very stressful for all concerned.

    With old age there are a lot of difficult to manage situations and the line between protecting people from harming themselves and others by intervention and alternatively sedating them is very thin.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 7:33 pm 08 Jul 21

    Actually I would suggest that it’s you who doesn’t know much about the end of life process, Capital Retro. VAD is about giving individuals the right to choose to not be put into the position where they are “sedated and barely aware of what is going on”. You do understand that the V in VAD is for “voluntary” don’t you? You and Zed have the right to oppose VAD as an option for yourself, but please don’t assume that gives you the right to enforce your views on others … it’s about individuals being able to choose for themselves.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:59 pm 08 Jul 21

    Most people in care are there because they can no longer make decisions for themselves so VAD doesn’t come into the equation.

    Maya123 Maya123 10:49 am 09 Jul 21

    Capital Retro: But not all people. My mother can still think for herself but is dying. I am looking after her, but there will come a time when that is beyond me, when more than one carer is needed to get her to the toilet, etc, or when at hand pain management is needed, and then she will have to go into care, likely Clare Holland House. She should be allowed to make her own decisions, whatever they are. I know she doesn’t want to go into a nursing home.
    My father was also able to think for himself right up until almost the end at 95 years. Up until he was given so much morphine that he was hardly ever conscientious, his breathing coming with difficulty. I was told he expressed a view that he was in favour of euthanasia. He had requested no resuscitation.

    Euthanasia does happen now, but is not fully acknowledged. Too much morphine, etc. But dying people, people in pain, should have the choice to go earlier, not when they are on their death bed.

Ray Young Ray Young 11:33 pm 07 Jul 21

Good job bro. With you!!!

No_Nose No_Nose 8:51 pm 07 Jul 21

Sir Robert must be rolling over in his grave about what has become of the once great Liberal Party.

He called it the ‘Liberal’ party rather than the Conservative Party as he wanted it to be progressive, inclusive, open to new ideas and to keep government interference out of how people live their lives.

Over the last two decades that vision has been eroded so much that it is no longer even a memory.

Andrew Duncan Andrew Duncan 7:35 pm 07 Jul 21

Name one ACT Chief Minster and political party that had made territory rights a key platform? Who? Follet? Caine? Carnell? Stanhope? And what has Andrew Barr done about it after 7 years as chief minister?

Maybe people need to question their own local politicians about what they’ve done rather than just federal.

Cannot think of 1 local or federal politician of any political ilk who has stood up for territory rights effectively.

GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 6:29 pm 07 Jul 21

Actually we only have two Senators in the ACT (like NT), whereas each state (including Tasmania) has 12. Our two are one from each tribe (Zed and the right and Katie on the left).

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:29 pm 07 Jul 21

“Surely a quarter century in opposition is some sort of record?”

Sure it’s a record for the ACT Legislative Assembly but we are talking about Zed who is now Federal, representing the ACT.

Apart from the 6 years preceding 2013 when Labor (Rudd/Gillard/Rudd) had the numbers the LNP has held power for more than 20 years.

Zed has delivered well since being a Senator. Let’s face it, the main criticisms of him relate to minor lifestyle issues. Isn’t anyone worried about the big picture?

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 6:33 pm 07 Jul 21

    “Zed has delivered well since being a Senator”
    Perhaps you can enlighten us, Capital Retro, as to exactly what Zed has delivered for the ACT since he moved from the local pond to the Senate.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 7:42 pm 07 Jul 21

    Lots of money.

    GrumpyMark GrumpyMark 7:42 am 09 Jul 21

    “Lots of money”
    An unsubstantiated generalisation – is that the best you can offer on what Zed has offered?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:02 pm 09 Jul 21

    Look it up on his website for goodness sake.

    Acton Acton 9:44 am 08 Jul 21

    Ok, lets look at the big picture, which is life and death. We are all going to die and I want to die painlessly, comfortably and at a time and in a way of my own choosing with someone to assist me. Zed is opposed to voluntary assisted dying. Therefore Zed is in favour of an undignified, protracted, painful demise as one by one our organs fail and we struggle for breath. Zed represents cruelty and suffering. He is unfit for public office.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:52 am 08 Jul 21

    You are welcome to oppose him at the next election. Good luck with your single “life and death” policy.

    No_Nose No_Nose 4:16 am 09 Jul 21

    Retro-dude. Could you point to two times that Zed has advocated and voted for a view or issue that is obviously and clearly the will of his constituents yet is in opposition to his his personal beliefs or his toeing the party line? Thanks!

Lily Rimanic Lily Rimanic 5:11 pm 07 Jul 21

No-one who has watched an anguished loved one beg to die could possibly be so devoid of compassion as to deny them the right to that decision.

You will wake up someday Zed ... but alas too late for so many forced to endure needlessly prolonged agony.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 4:39 pm 07 Jul 21

Do we have any other ACT Senators? If we do we never hear anything from them or about them.

I guess there are a couple of Labor ones there somewhere and I’ll take a wild guess and say they used to have stellar careers in the trade union movement.

Deb Stevens Deb Stevens 2:32 pm 07 Jul 21

Zed represents his own ultra conservative values and not the values of the majority of the Territory.

carpediem carpediem 12:57 pm 07 Jul 21

Shame on Zed Seselja. If he had ever had to watch his own mother suffer in incredible pain, struggling just to breathe for 2 long weeks, whilst listening to her repeatedly beg you for help to stop the suffering, he might have a different view. His lack of compassion on this subject goes beyond his Catholicism, its simply cruel and inhumane.

Valerie Foster Valerie Foster 7:35 am 07 Jul 21

Yet can murder a baby who has no say

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