The Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) is urging people who support the right for Australia’s territories to legislate for voluntary assisted dying to make a submission to the Senate committee considering the issue.
On Monday next week, submissions will close to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Ensuring Northern Territory Rights Bill 2021 – a private member’s bill being championed by Northern Territory Senator Sam McMahon.
The bill proposes to remove limits on the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly’s powers to make laws in relation to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) and other matters.
It would also repeal the controversial Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, which was introduced by conservative Liberal Party member of parliament Kevin Andrews to prevent the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) from legalising VAD.
In a submission to the Senate inquiry, RSA president Meredith Doig said the bill should be passed as there was “no justification for limiting – or continuing to limit – the legislative power of self-governing territories” on single issues.
As it would repeal the ‘Andrews bill’ and restore rights to both the Northern Territory and ACT, the bill should be renamed to reflect its actual effect, Dr Doig argued.
“A suitable name might be the Ensuring Self-Governing Territories Rights Bill or Restoring Territory Legislative Power Bill,” she said.
“…the ability of the peoples of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory to govern themselves was taken away to assuage an outsider’s religious views. This is not consistent with democratic territory self-government.”
In urging concerned individuals and groups to make a submission, Senator McMahon said the issue of VAD should not be the only focus.
“Any submission must address the totality of the bill, which focusses on territory rights, and not just assisted dying/voluntary euthanasia. Submissions that do not directly address the provisions of the bill may not be accepted.”
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman
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