Dying bill needs dignified debate

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on August 9, 2019

WA PREMIER Mark McGowan has called for a respectful, factual and dignified debate when the new Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill is considered by Parliament before a conscience vote later this year.

The 109-page Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was released on Tuesday and details strict measures to assess a person’s decision-making capacity and eligibility for voluntary assisted dying, how to request access to voluntary assisted dying, the supply, administration and disposal of voluntary assisted dying substances, and the penalties for misused, incorrect or unauthorised voluntary assisted dying administration and procedures.

If passed, the Bill would make WA the second state in the country to legalise voluntary assisted dying.

Victoria passed legislation in 2017.

WA State Minister for Health Roger Cook explained that a person requesting a voluntary assisted death must be over 18 years of age, an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and have been a resident of WA for at least one year.

The person would need to have a disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and will on the balance of probabilities, cause death within six months, or 12 months if it is a neurodegenerative condition.

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

“The government has weighed up the Ministerial Expert Panel’s recommendations and the advice of other key stakeholders to draft safe and compassionate Western Australian appropriate legislation which is in step with prevailing community views,” Mr Cook said.

“This has been a comprehensive process which included the biggest community consultation ever undertaken by the WA Health Department.

“It has resulted in safe, fully informed and workable legislation and I look forward to the upcoming legislative debate.”

Mr McGowan hopes to pass the Bill through Parliament by the end of the year.

“I know there will be people who try to scare people about this issue, but it is essentially an act of kindness and compassion for people who are terminally ill and in pain,” he said.

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

If the Bill passes, it is anticipated there would be an 18-month implementation phase before it would take effect.

The full Bill can be viewed online at health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying