Rarely a leader in progressive social reform, Western Australia has become the second Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
The lower house on Tuesday approved 55 amendments to the Labor government’s bill, bringing to an end a heated and emotional parliamentary debate.
Western Australia follows Victoria in enabling voluntary assisted dying, with the scheme expected to be implemented in 18 months’ time.
Lobby groups including Go Gentle Australia, led by TV personality Andrew Denton, will now turn their attention to South Australia and Queensland, which initiated parliamentary inquiries into assisted dying earlier this year.
“In tandem with the increased funding and support for palliative care that has flowed from this debate, we believe the passing of VAD law will lead to better and more compassionate end of life choices for all West Australians,” Go Gentle said in a statement.
“There is no excuse now for other states not to follow suit.
“There is no excuse now for the territories not to have restored their right to decide this issue by themselves.”
Under the WA scheme, terminally ill adults in pain and likely to have less than six months to live – or one year if they have a neurodegenerative condition – will be able to take a drug to end their lives if approved by two medical practitioners.
More than 180 hours were spent debating the legislation in parliament, mostly in the upper house where it was heavily amended.
Health Minister Roger Cook, who was applauded by MPs on both sides for his handling of the bill, said it was a significant moment for the typically conservative state.
“Western Australia is not known for its progressiveness in terms of its legislative reform,” he noted.
“I’d like to think we’ve come a respectable second (to Victoria).”
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