Queensland Opposition Leader David Crisafulli has reaffirmed his support for a conscience vote on assisted dying.
The state could become the fourth to legalise euthanasia, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying the proposed laws to be introduced to parliament this week are aimed exclusively at people suffering or dying.
Mr Crisafulli says he will approach the debate with an open mind and that’s “exactly what I’m asking from my team”.
“It’s a serious issue and it deserves a serious response,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“When I talk about a conscience vote, I mean it. I don’t mean the kind of conscience vote where people get heavied and there will be people leaning over others’ shoulders.”
Mr Crisafulli also said he had no expectation that his own stance on the issue would become a signpost for his LNP colleagues.
“Whatever decision I come to, I don’t want to see people following that like a conga line,” he said.
“I want people to treat this with respect. I know that passion exists on both sides. I’ve seen it and I respect it.”
Ms Palaszczuk, a Catholic, said last week she would allow her own MPs to vote according to their conscience after witnessing the slow and painful deaths of her grandmother and uncle.
“This is a choice, and it’s not going to be the right choice for a lot of people, but it’s got to be an option for people and far be it for me to make that individual choice on how a person wishes to end their life,” she said.
The Greens and independent MP Sandy Bolton support euthanasia but Katter’s Australian Party will oppose it.
One Nation MP Stephen Andrew plans to study the bill before deciding.
Under the bill, patients must have either a disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and will cause death.
Their condition must be expected to cause death within 12 months and cause “intolerable” suffering.
Patients will have to be assessed to be acting voluntarily and without coercion, aged at least 18 and a Queensland resident.
They will also need to make three applications over a period of at least nine days.
Health practitioners must tell applicants they can change their mind at any point.
The bill will be debated in September and, if it passes, a euthanasia system will be in place by May 2022.