NSW euthanasia bill heading to parliament

·3-min read

Terminally ill people who have six months or less to live will be allowed to die on their own terms under a voluntary euthanasia bill to be introduced to NSW Parliament next month.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich has released a draft of the bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying and has won support from MPs across the political spectrum.

However, the leaders of the parliamentary Liberal and Labor parties, Gladys Berejiklian and Chris Minns, don't support the measure.

His bill has now been circulated to politicians and stakeholders for feedback.

"COVID has stopped a lot of things, but it hasn't stopped people being diagnosed with terminal illnesses or experiencing intolerable pain and suffering from that illness," Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Monday.

"For the terminally ill in NSW who face extreme suffering, this is urgent. They want peace of mind, dignity and as much control as possible over a gentle and compassionate end of life."

The bill is supported by Nationals MP Trevor Khan, Labor frontbenchers and MPs, all Greens MPs, the Animal Justice Party and other members of the crossbench.

MPs from Labor, the Nationals, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, and One Nation will be allowed a conscience vote.

Ms Berejiklian has said she would prefer the issue wasn't debated "given everything else we're facing".

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said cabinet will decide whether to allow coalition MPs a conscience vote once it sees the draft bill.

Ms Berejiklian's office has been contacted for comment.

The bill, which Mr Greenwich describes as conservative, would limit access to voluntary dying to people with terminal illnesses who will die within six months.

If they have a neurodegenerative condition and are experiencing unbearable suffering, that will be extended to 12 months.

No hospitals, facilities or doctors would be forced to participate.

But two doctors would have to sign off on the request and they'd be trained to look for signs of coercion.

Mr Greenwich is trying to recruit MPs of all ideological backgrounds to co-sponsor the bill, which he plans to introduce to state parliament next month.

The bill already has the support of the Council on the Ageing NSW, the Health Services Union, the Older Women's Network, the Paramedics Association and Cancer Voices.

A survey of HSU members found 89 per cent supported reform.

Research commissioned by the Council on the Ageing found 72 per cent of Australians aged 50 and over support voluntary assisted dying.

The same proportion of NSW residents agree voluntary assisted dying should be legal, according to a survey by The Australia Institute.

"It should be a matter of personal choice how you manage your terminal illness, and whether you want to spend your remaining days living in unbearable pain," said the chair of the NSW chapter of the Older Women's Network, Beverly Baker.

Mr Greenwich said "every day matters" for the people in NSW who need the bill.

"I am confident that my parliamentary colleagues have heard that message loud and clear. It's now up to them to carefully review and consider the legislation and then get this done."

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