Victoria’s euthanasia bill passes the Upper House in second reading
AAP – SBS Wires
3rd Nov 2017
Victoria’s euthanasia bill has passed the Upper House 22 votes to 18 in its second reading after robust debate over the controversial proposal.
Extra palliative care for regional Victoria will be considered as Labor tries to win the support of key Liberal MPs in a bid to pass controversial assisted dying laws.
The legislation passed its latest test in the state’s upper house on Friday after emotional speeches, with debate on amendments to start on November 14.
Liberal MP Simon Ramsay told parliament he supports the principle of assisted dying, but regional Victorians are missing out on palliative care.
“I cannot support a government-sponsored bill that doesn’t provide sufficient palliative care funding,” Mr Ramsay said on Friday.
Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings said the government will look at expanding end-of-life care as part of the budget process.
“A number of people said they’re really concerned about pockets of access, particularly in regional areas,” Mr Jennings told reporters.
But he ruled out any amendments that would compromise the integrity of the scheme.
“If there are things that we can actually refine or strengthen in relation to MPs’ concerns we are happy to do so,” Mr Jennings said.
Another key Liberal MP, upper house President Bruce Atkinson, said research showed people believe palliative care was not able to relieve everyone’s suffering.
“To drug a person to the point that they’re comatose is hardly compassion,” Mr Atkinson said in his speech.
The Liberal pair’s votes could be enough to get the laws over the line if Labor can address their concerns in the amendment process.
Labor MP Harriet Shing shared an emotional story of her brother Patrick, who died in 2015 after a long and painful battle with prostate cancer, as she spoke in favour of the bill.
“At last his face, that I’d gauged for pain signals for so long, was unlined,” Ms Shing said through tears.
But Liberal MP Inga Peulich said many migrants had fled to Australia to avoid the type of regimes that killed their own citizens.
“They say there is overwhelming support for euthanasia; there is also overwhelming support for capital punishment,” Ms Peulich said.
Vote 1 Local Jobs MP James Purcell says he wants to see some amendments.
The major parties allowed a conscience vote on the controversial bill, which needs 21 supporters to get through the 40-member upper house, with 19 MPs so far declaring full support.