Qld premier coy on euthanasia amendments

·3-min read

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the public will be told about any changes to a voluntary assisted dying bill when she is ready to tell them.

There is growing speculation the landmark bill could be diluted by the Labor caucus at the 11th hour amid a sustained campaign by religious objectors.

Under the proposed laws, faith-based care providers won't be obligated to administer euthanasia drugs to terminally ill patients.

However, they would be required to let independent doctors into their facilities to help people end their lives if they are unable to be moved to other facilities.

Providers affiliated with the Catholic Church, such as St Vincent's Health and Mater Health, say their staff should not have to witness premature deaths.

They are also worried independent doctors would not have to forewarn them of their intention to enter their premises to end the lives of patients.

Ms Palaszczuk said Labor caucus would on Monday approve the bill to be debated in parliament this week, but refused to say if it would include any last minute amendments.

"I've got a caucus meeting this afternoon," the premier told reporters.

Asked when people would learn if there'd been any changes, she replied: "Well, you might not hear about it this afternoon, but you'll hear about it when I'm ready to tell you about it."

The major parties have granted their MPs conscience votes on the bill.

As the proposed legislation stands, people seeking help to die must have either a disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and terminal.

Their condition must be expected to cause their death within a year and it must be causing "intolerable" suffering.

People must also be assessed by two doctors, having made three separate requests for help to die.

The bill needs a majority of 47 votes in Queensland's 93-seat lower house to pass into law. There is no upper house in Queensland.

The premier, Deputy Premier Steven Miles, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath and Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman have publicly expressed support for the bill in its current form.

Another 39 MPs support the bill, including three Liberal National Party MPs, two Greens and independent Sandy Bolton.

However, 13 LNP MPs including Deputy Opposition Leader David Janetzki and three Katter's Australian Party MPs will oppose the bill.

Another 22 MPs, including Opposition Leader David Crisafulli and Treasurer Cameron Dick, are yet to publicly reveal their stance.

The Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association does not, in general, support any treatment where the primary intention is to end life.

But it has acknowledged decisions about voluntary assisted dying are ones for society, through their elected representatives.

"We remain disappointed that our calls for $275 million for improved palliative care were not met in the state budget," it said on Monday.

"The choice for the patient should be between a well-funded palliative caring model and, ultimately, a quicker and cheaper VAD model."

The Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union supports voluntary assisted dying laws, saying people with incurable, physical illnesses that cause unbearable and profound suffering should have the right to choose to die with dignity.

"They should not be compelled to suffer beyond their wishes," the union said in its submission to the government's inquiry, while also noting high-quality palliative care could not alleviate pain and suffering in all cases.

The union polled almost 3500 of its 60,000 members earlier this year, with almost 87 per cent expressing in-principle support for voluntary assisted dying.

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