Tasmania becomes the third Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying

Voluntary assisted dying legislation has passed Tasmania's upper house, with the new laws expected to become active in 18 months.

An elderly person in hospital

Tasmania's parliament has voted to legalise euthanasia. Source: AAP

Tasmania will become the third Australian jurisdiction to legalise voluntary assisted dying after legislation passed the state's upper house.

Legislative Council members supported the End of Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill late on Tuesday night, approving amendments from the lower house.

The lower house had backed the bill in 16-6 vote on 5 March, with Premier Peter Gutwein among a handful of Liberals to support it.


The new laws are expected to become active in Tasmania in 18 months.

It is the fourth time proposed euthanasia laws have come before Tasmania's parliament.

Liberal Party members were allowed a conscience vote on the legislation, which allows people who are suffering from advanced, incurable and irreversible conditions to end their lives in situations where they would be expected to die within six months. 

Similar laws already exist in Western Australia and Victoria.

Independent Legislative Councillor Mike Gaffney, who introduced the bill, said he was proud to have been a part of the process. 

"It will give those Tasmanians who are suffering intolerably, who are eligible the right to choose (to end their life)," Mr Gaffney said.

"Congratulations Tasmania for getting behind it. I'm really proud of you," he said. 

Your Choice Tasmania, an organisation founded by sisters Jacqui and Natalie Gray after the death of their mother, said in a Facebook post that the result was "the legacy of all of our loved ones that died without this compassionate end-of-life choice".

"The pain and trauma experienced by each of them has not been in vain," the post read.

"Our loved ones have helped pave the way to allow us this profound freedom of choice - the absolute reassurance that we will never have to suffer intolerably, following a terminal diagnosis."

Go Gentle Australia, an organisation advocating for end-of-life choices, celebrated the milestone as "a tipping point".

"The exemplary, evidence-based & respectful debate ... is a tipping point. Every win brings us closer to compassionate end of life choice for all Australians," they tweeted. 

While Tasmania is the third state to legalise euthanasia, others are set to consider the issue.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk pledged a parliamentary conscience vote on voluntary-assisted dying, while new laws have been proposed in South Australia and NSW MP Alex Greenwich previously announced is drafting legislation on the issue. 

There have been calls from federal MPs to restore the right for the ACT and the Northern Territory to decide on their own euthanasia laws after the power was taken away by the federal government in 1997. 

With reporting by AAP.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide can contact 24 hours a day online and on 13 11 14. Other services include the on 1300 659 467, and (for people aged five to 25) on 1800 55 1800.

The can be contacted on 1800 642 066.

3 min read
Published 24 March 2021 at 9:51am
By SBS News
Source: SBS