Queensland assisted dying opponents table 55 amendments as MPs share emotional stories

Health minister Yvette D’Ath breaks down in parliament as she speaks about her mother’s suffering

Opponents of Queensland’s proposed voluntary assisted dying laws have tabled 55 separate amendments to the bill ensuring there will be a protracted debate in the state parliament this week.

Many MPs shared emotional personal stories during Tuesday’s debate with packets of tissues passed around the Legislative Assembly.

The health minister, Yvette D’Ath, broke down as she spoke about her late mother’s suffering during her final years.

“My mother died of Alzheimer’s,” D’Ath said. “We had discussions about life and death. I know what she’d choose, she’d choose voluntary assisted dying.”

Under the Queensland draft legislation, voluntary assisted dying would be restricted to people with an advanced and progressive condition that caused intolerable suffering and was expected to cause death within a year.

The person must have decision-making capacity and would have to be separately and independently assessed by two doctors. They would then be required to make three separate requests over at least nine days.

Labor and Liberal National MPs have been granted a conscience vote. The bill is expected to pass with a comfortable majority but will first have to survive attempted changes.

VAD advocates and legal experts – who say the draft laws are “measured” and offer appropriate safeguards – have warned against wholesale changes that could upset that balance and create unworkable barriers to access.

The LNP deputy leader and shadow attorney general, David Janetzki, tabled 54 of the 55 amendments. They include proposed additional restrictions and measures that would allow faith-based healthcare facilities to block residents from accessing VAD.

Sign up to receive the top stories from Guardian Australia every morning

The LNP leader, David Crisafulli, said the amendments were “trying to improve” the bill. But he said he would oppose it regardless of whether the changes were adopted.

“It breaks a fundamental tenet of society, that human life is sacrosanct,” Crisafulli said. “While my heart hurts for people suffering great pain ... I can’t support something that offers the assistance of the state to terminate their lives.”

The Katter’s Australia party leader, Robbie Katter, tabled an amendment seeking for the VAD bill to be immediately shelved until the government committed an additional $275m towards palliative care.

Katter argued that people in remote parts of Queensland “stare into a different looking future than perhaps if they had private healthcare in the middle of Brisbane”. His amendment was backed by many regional LNP MPs.

Katter is fundamentally opposed to VAD and says he won’t vote for the bill in any form.

D’Ath told parliament the move was a “stunt” that was “seeking to delay the introduction of voluntary assisted dying”.

Tim Nicholls, the former LNP opposition leader, said he would vote in favour of VAD. Nicholls was one of three opposition MPs to support the decriminalisation of abortion in 2018 and suffered threats of recrimination at the time.

“I believe fundamentally in the freedom of the individual,” Nicholls said. “It balances competing rights and where it must come to a conclusion, it does in the favour of the dying person.”

The deputy premier, Steven Miles, introduced the bill on Tuesday morning. He cited repeated surveys that showed about 80% support for VAD.

“Why make a rational adult who is begging to die quickly, die slowly instead?” Miles said.

David Muir, the chair of the Clem Jones Trust, which has been campaigning for VAD, hoped the amendments would not ultimately change the bill.

“When you start tinkering with a bill at such a late stage it could have unintended consequences,” Muir said. “Inevitably [the amendments] would only erode the rights of the terminally ill. Most of the amendments would be along those lines.”

Contributor

Ben Smee

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Queensland warned not to tear apart assisted dying bill with amendments that create unworkable barriers
Expert says additional safeguards proposed by some faith-based organisations are unnecessary for an already ‘safe and measured’ legislation

Ben Smee

05, Sep, 2021 @5:30 PM

Article image
Most Queensland churchgoers say they support voluntary assisted dying
Exclusive: New poll shows Queenslanders of all faiths are heavily in favour of voluntary assisted dying laws

Ben Smee

07, Aug, 2020 @8:00 PM

Article image
Can Queensland’s LNP avoid a backlash over assisted dying as vote nears?
With parliament set to vote on a euthanasia bill, conservative MPs could find themselves at odds with the electorate

Ben Smee

04, Sep, 2021 @8:00 PM

Article image
Queensland election: Labor pledges to allow vote on voluntary assisted dying
Party will give its MPs a conscience vote on issue that has strong community support

Ben Smee

19, Oct, 2020 @1:02 AM

Article image
Queensland LNP MPs discouraged from meeting euthanasia campaigners ahead of conscience vote
Exclusive: Concerns LNP could shelve voluntary assisted dying reforms if it wins October election, despite support from 80% of Queenslanders

Ben Smee

27, Jul, 2020 @5:30 PM

Article image
Assisted dying: Victorian scheme receives 100 inquiries as laws come into effect
From Wednesday, those with a terminal illness will be able to ask doctors for drugs that will allow them to end their life

Luke Henriques-Gomes

16, Jun, 2019 @6:00 PM

Article image
Queensland 'Christian soldiers' back doctor who railed against abortion and gay marriage for LNP seat
Liberal National officials believed to be alarmed at prospect of endorsing controversial figure for preselection days before state election

Ben Smee

20, Oct, 2020 @8:07 AM

Article image
Victorian AFL teams to be based in Queensland – as it happened
Victorian premier announces death of woman in her 90s as 10 new NSW cases linked to Crossroads hotel cluster in south-western Sydney suburb of Casula. This blog is now closed

Michael McGowan and Calla Wahlquist

15, Jul, 2020 @8:18 AM

Article image
Australia's deadliest day as Queensland closes border to NSW and ACT – as it happened
Man in his 30s becomes youngest person to die; NSW reports 12 new cases and says residents returning from Victoria must go to hotel quarantine for 14 days

Naaman Zhou (now) and Amy Remeikis(earlier)

05, Aug, 2020 @8:42 AM

Article image
Queensland MPs vote to legalise voluntary assisted dying
An overwhelming majority of MPs voted in favour of the laws, after an emotional three-day debate

Ben Smee

16, Sep, 2021 @9:11 AM