A strong majority of NSW voters support the legalisation of euthanasia, according to a poll conducted amid a new push for the state’s parliament to debate the issue.
Seventy-two per cent of NSW residents surveyed by thinktank The Australia Institute agreed voluntary assisted dying should be legal, compared with 13 per cent who said it should not.
Support is even higher among coalition voters: 74 per cent are pro-euthanasia.
The 1038 NSW residents were asked for their views between December 8 and 16.
Euthanasia is set to be on the NSW political agenda in 2021, with independent MP Alex Greenwich this month announcing plans to draft fresh legislation to legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill.
Cabinet will decide whether to support the bill or permit a conscience vote for Coalition MPs when it sees the legislation, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday reiterated her desire that the parliament does not debate euthanasia.
“Can I stress it’s not government policy, it’s not something I think we should be looking at at this time,” she told reporters. “I also appreciate people have very strong views.”
The Premier has previously said she is personally uncomfortable with such a policy.
The voters surveyed by The Australia Institute were also presented with the specific model implemented in Victoria last year, which allows adult patients suffering intolerable pain and already dying of a terminal illness to access a lethal drug.
Three in four NSW residents support passing similar laws, with 44 per cent strongly supporting. Meanwhile, 13 per cent would oppose a similar law in NSW, with 5 per cent strongly opposing.
Support for legalising euthanasia in NSW increases with age. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 agree voluntary assisted dying should be legal, compared with 76 per cent of those aged 65 and above.
74% support! Now they are talking about a referendum in 2023 so that a conservative government can avoid some internal fights. All while people are suffering or taking their own lives, or principled doctors are risking prosecution by aiding some. https://t.co/AuyZP0GkzK
— Scott Riddle (@scottgriddle) December 26, 2020
Euthanasia has been legalised in Western Australia, Victoria and New Zealand in recent years.
Queensland has also considered the issue, with a parliamentary committee recommending in May draft legislation should be passed.
Mr Greenwich says he favours the WA model, which allows access to assisted dying for those who will die within six months or 12 months for someone with a neurodegenerative condition, when their suffering cannot be relieved.
“My constituents have regularly raised with me the need for NSW to join other states in providing the option, with safeguards, for people with a painful and cruel terminal illness to die with dignity,” Mr Greenwich said earlier this month.
He acknowledged the issue was “emotive” and pledged to work with MPs from all parties throughout the deliberation process.
He is encouraging his parliamentary colleagues to begin discussing the matter with constituents.