How South-West politicians will vote on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill

Image by Shutterstock.
Image by Shutterstock.

The State Government will introduce legislation in parliament to legalise voluntary assisted dying in WA,

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 recognises the importance of giving people genuine choice and autonomy over their decision making.

The bill aims to allow eligible people at the end of their life to access voluntary assisted dying, while ensuring a range of protections, approvals and reviews for these decisions are in place.

The legislation will be debated in parliament before WA politicians will be asked to vote on legalising euthanasia in WA.

The Mail contacted South-West representatives who will be tasked with voting on the bill to see who supported voluntary assisted dying legislation.

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Supporters of the bill include Vasse MLA Libby Mettam, Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray, Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman, Bunbury MLA Don Punch and South West MLC's Colin Holt, Diane Evers and Sally Talbot.

Those still considering are South-West MLC's Adele Farina and Colin Tincknell.

South West MLC Steve Thomas does not support the bill.

Mr Thomas said while he expected the bill would pass, he would not delay the process in parliament. He said he could not endorse state assisted suicide and believed the state should support better palliative care.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said having spent many months talking to her constituents, community organisations, and from the emails and letters she has received, she intended to vote as a representative of the community of Vasse, in favour of the bill.

Ms Mettam said she would scrutinise this significant piece of proposed legislation and continue to listen to constituents and community organisations.

She said the community held diverse and passionate views and she recognised that for many people it has been difficult to consider as they thought of their own friends and loved ones who have sadly passed.

A grievance was raised by Ms Mettam in parliament to the health minister that regardless of the outcome of the bill, there was a vital need to ensure high-quality palliative care was available to every Western Australian.

"Sadly it is not equal across the regions, and is even further limited in rural areas and almost non-existent in remote regions," she said.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman said the legislation raised ethical and emotional responses from many people, however from all the contacts in his electorate, the overwhelming position was in support of voluntary assisted dying,

"So therefore I give it my 'in principle' support," he said.

"As a Member of Parliament, I see it as my responsibility to thoroughly interrogate the details in the legislation to ensure it is robust, not ambiguous and has sufficient hurdles to filter its misuse.

"At first reading, the 102 safeguards provide strict eligibility criteria and the three step process provides time for review.

"The cost of getting this legislation wrong is high, so I feel pressure to ensure the legislation is not open to abuse or misuse, and that vulnerable people are protected."

South West MLC Adele Farina said as a legislator, it was her responsibility to carefully and objectively consider the policy of a bill and whether the bill, as drafted, delivered the stated policy objective with adequate safeguards.

"I take this role seriously," she said.

"On the issue of voluntary assisted dying, I have received representations from constituents both strongly in support and strongly opposed to the bill.

"Over the coming weeks I will take my time to carefully consider the bill, the representations I've received to date and those scheduled in coming weeks.

"I will review academic research on the experience in other jurisdictions and will continue to engage with my constituents and 'experts' or those with particular knowledge on the matter.

"Also, I will carefully consider matters raised during the parliamentary debate and any proposed amendments to the bill in determining my position."

South West MLC Diane Evers said the vast majority of people in WA were in favour of voluntary assisted dying legislation and the comfort it could give to people in the terminal stages of their disease.

"Seeing end of life choices advocate Belinda Teh complete her astonishing cross-country walk from Victoria to the Western Australian parliament last week and hearing many stories of families watching loved ones die excruciatingly painful deaths has firmed my intentions not only to support this bill, but also support my parliamentary colleagues to maintain their resolve and see that this legislation gets passed," she said.

"The Greens (WA) spokesperson on end of life choices, Robin Chapple MLC, has invested many years into this issue, and I have confidence in his understanding that we will proceed with good legislation.

"I will be supporting the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill as it is only fair that, with these personal experiences in mind and as a representative of the WA community, I support legislation that allows people to die with dignity."

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said he was very comfortable with the legislation, and was always happy to talk to people within his electorate about their views.

"I know that, for some people, the eligibility criteria will be too restrictive, while, for others, it won't be restrictive enough," he said.

"At the end of the day, I believe the government and the implementation task force have found an appropriate balance.

"I will be interested to see how the debate unfolds, in a respectful way."