Australia

Western Australia government brings on assisted dying bill

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The West Australian parliament is debating voluntary assisted dying legislation which has some differences to the Victorian model.

Terminally ill people in pain and likely to have less than six months to live will be allowed to seek voluntary assisted dying under legislation proposed by the West Australian government.

Premier Mark McGowan said the drafting of the new laws follows "a culmination of lengthy and comprehensive consultation on the issue."

"Many people across the community who have had their parents or loved one pass away in agony want something done, and that’s what this is about," he said.

“Voluntary assisted dying is a significant issue for WA and every member of parliament deserves the right to speak and vote on the legislation."

WA Premier Mark McGowan has urged for a "respectful, factual and dignified debate."
WA Premier Mark McGowan has urged for a "respectful, factual and dignified debate."
AAP

Under the plan, an adult Australian citizen or permanent resident, who has been a resident of WA for at least one year, will be eligible.

They must have an illness or medical condition that is advanced and will "on the balance of probabilities" cause their death within six months or 12 months if it is a neurodegenerative condition.

The condition must also be causing suffering that cannot be relieved in a tolerable manner.

The condition would also need to be causing suffering to the person that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable.

Under the proposed legislation, the request and assessment process also requires three requests by the patient, including two verbal with a written declaration in between and must be witnessed by two independent people.

There must be a minimum of two independent medical assessments by two doctors.

A string of rigorous medical assessment measures will be in place.
A string of rigorous medical assessment measures will be in place.
Getty Images/davidhills

Palliative care and treatment options available to the patient and the likely outcomes of that care and treatment are among a list of rigorous assessment measures and information included in the medical assessment phase.

The state government said a new statutory board would be formed to "ensure proper adherence to the bill and have a monitoring and advisory role on matters related to voluntary assisted dying."

Health Minister Roger Cook said the voluntary assisted dying bill, which had 102 safeguards in place, was cautious and compassionate.

"This is not a question between life and death. This is about the timing and nature of someone's death," he told reporters.

"Death is inevitable and this legislation will provide them with choice, compassion and understanding."

“The Government has weighed up the expert panel’s recommendations and the advice of other key stakeholders to draft safe and compassionate WA appropriate legislation which is in step with prevailing community views."

He said Labor MPs will be given a conscience vote following a legislative debate on the issue, which is scheduled for later this year.

The bill follows the biggest public and community consultation ever undertaken in the state, as well as reviews of similar laws in other jurisdictions including Victoria's euthanasia legislation, which came into effect in June this year.

Belinda Teh, who walked from Melbourne to Perth in a bid to encourage changes to the law following the death of her mother from breast cancer, handed Premier Mark McGowan a flower as hundreds of supporters cheered at the steps of parliament.

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