News State Victoria Euthanasia laws pass Victorian Parliament lower house after marathon debate

Euthanasia laws pass Victorian Parliament lower house after marathon debate

assisted dying bill
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has campaigned strongly in favour of the Victorian bill. Photo: AAP
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Laws allowing voluntary assisted dying have passed Victoria’s lower house after a marathon debate between exhausted MPs.

After an all-night session in parliament discussing 140 amendments, the Labor government’s voluntary euthanasia bill passed on Friday morning and will now go to the upper house.

The proposed laws state terminally ill people with less than 12 months to live and who are suffering unbearable pain will be able to request lethal medication.

Victorian MPs sat through the night in Parliament in a heated debate over the Government’s assisted dying legislation which began at 9:30am in the lower house on Thursday, running all day and overnight.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill passed 47 votes to 37, the ABC reported.

If it gets through the upper house, terminally ill people over the age of 18, in severe pain and with only a year to live will be able to access lethal drugs.

A conscience vote was held at 11:15am after almost 26 hours of heated debate, said the ABC.

The 40-member upper house, where numbers are also tight, will debate the controversial bill in a fortnight.

The majority of Labor MPs backed bill, along with two Greens, two independents and a handful of Coalition MPs.

If passed, the legislation will not come into effect for 18 months to allow for its implementation.

The legislation had also been debated on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tempers began to flare last on Thursday night as those opposed to the bill tried but failed to pass more than a dozen clauses and hundreds of amendments.

The amendments called for changes like publicly disclosing euthanasia statistics and prohibiting advertising for voluntary assisted dying.

Liberal MP Graham Watt had earlier said Victoria would become a “suicide tourism destination” if the laws were passed.

The new laws propose that people over the age of 18 with a terminal illness with no more than 12 months to live and who are in severe pain will be able to request from doctors a lethal medication.

Another of the proposed amendments was to change the eligibility criteria to those with six months to live.

The laws would allow medical practitioners decide whether the person’s suffering can or cannot be relieved.

On Thursday, Deputy Premier James Merlino failed in his attempt to block the bill, putting him at odds with Premier Daniel Andrews, who strongly supports voluntary assisted dying.

Liberal Box Hill MP Robert Clarke rallied against the bill, arguing supporters had been stubborn in their approach.

“It is obvious that the Government is determined to press on as it is and is not prepared to accept amendments, and unfortunately that is reinforcing the conclusion that this has been a one-eyed process.”

Greens MP Ellen Sandell tweeted she was disappointed in the tactics to drag out the process and delay the vote.

“Filibustering on assisted dying legislation by Libs and Nats overnight has been really disappointing. Some appalling behaviour,” she said.

Unlike when the Northern Territory introduced euthanasia laws, only to see them overruled by the Howard government, Victoria’s laws cannot be overturned by the Commonwealth, said the ABC.