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Euthanasia: we can live without it

Bill foreshadowed for Tasmania in 2017

Bill foreshadowed for Tasmania in 2017

The on-again-off-again attempts by Tasmanian MP, Lara Giddings MP to introduce a new euthanasia bill jointly with an MP from the Liberal Party has clearly failed.

The failure is evident in the news yesterday that Ms Giddings will now introduce a bill in 2017 jointly with the Greens Party leader, Cassy O'Connor.

Ms Giddings introduced a failed euthanasia bill in 2012 when she was Tasmanan Premier. Now in opposition, Ms Giddings had been seeking formal support from one of the new Liberal MPs elected at the2014 election. The fact that this has not eventuated means that either the new Liberal MPs are reluctant to hitch their wagons to Giddings agenda or they, like their colleagues, oppose euthanasia. Either way, it leaves the possibility of a majority support for any euthanasia bill in the Tasmanian lower house extremely doubtful.

From the ABC News report:

Ms Giddings said the revised Bill would incorporate some improvements in light of changes made in other jurisdictions, such as Canada.

"The Canadian Government is now formulating their own legislation following Supreme Court decisions [that] ruled their criminal code provisions, which ban assisted death, were illegal," she said.

This is a coarse rendering of the situation in Canada where the Supreme Court struck down the criminal code provisions but did not define them as illegal.

If Giddings and O'Connor are waiting for the outcome of the new law in Canada for direction and impetus they may be disappointed. As things now stand, the reports to the Ottawa Parliament are recommending virtual euthanasia on demand; something that surely even Giddings and her supporters could not imagine would run in Australia.

At the same time, new Labor MP, Madeleine Ogilvie appears to have cross-party support for a law designed to clarify patients' rights and doctor's protections in law. Based upon the South Australian 'gold standard' 1995 Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act.

This is a sensible move that clarifies what is already well understood in common law and removes an remaining (and largely false) ambiguity.

This time around Lara Giddings will not have the 'trappings of office' or advantages of being Premier and on the treasury benches.

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