Tas proposed euthanasia laws 'rigorous'

·2-min read

Tasmania's proposed voluntary assisted dying laws include safeguards among the most rigorous in the world but further consideration in some areas is required, an expert panel has found.

The island state is poised to become the third jurisdiction to legalise euthanasia after Western Australia and Victoria.

The legislation is expected to have the numbers to pass its final hurdle in the lower house, with debate to resume when parliament returns next week.

Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein, who supports legalising voluntary assisted dying in principle, late last year ordered a comparative University of Tasmania review into the legislation.

It found the bill's safeguards for requesting, assessing eligibility and accessing voluntary assisted dying (VAD) are "among the most rigorous in the world".

"(The bill) requires four separate assessments of eligibility during the assessment process which is more than any other jurisdiction," the report reads.

However the review panel, made up of law, medical and political science academics, says there are three main aspects requiring further consideration.

They include whether the bill's safeguards are balanced with the need to establish VAD and whether proposed organisational non-participation is balanced with the need for individual access.

The extent of the bill's guidelines for profession practice, support services and administrative procedures also require further consideration.

The state government has also released advice from Department of Communities, Health, Justice and Police, Fire and Emergency Management which comments on 139 of the bill's clauses.

Senior Minister Michael Ferguson says the report vindicates his opposition to the legislation.

"I understand that there are strong opinions in the community on this issue," he said in a statement.

"But it's not in anyone's interest to rush legislation that has 139 unresolved problems when it's dealing with life and death."

Seventeen of the island's 25-strong House of Assembly in December voted for the reform to move to further debate.

Six Liberal government MPs voiced their support as did all nine members of Labor and both Greens.

It is the fourth time Tasmania has tried to legalise voluntary assisted dying after failed attempts in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

Under the proposed laws, people over 18 with an advanced, incurable, irreversible condition expected to cause death within six months can end their lives.

They must have decision-making capacity and be acting voluntarily and can opt out of the procedure at any time.