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Victoria votes to be first Australian state to legalise euthanasia

22 November 2017


​It took a marathon sitting of the Parliament in Melbourne to pass the bill. Image: Darrian Traynor 

Only days after New South Wales rejected a bill.

Victoria is set to become the first Australian state to legalise assisted suicide, after a crucial vote in the Upper House of the State Parliament. The Labour government proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill was passed by 22 votes to 18, after a marathon 28 hour Parliamentary session.

Pushed through Parliament

The Legislative Council spent days debating amendments to a bill passed by parliament's lower chamber, the Legislative Assembly, last month, by 47 votes to 37. It will now return to the lower house to have the amendments ratified.

The bill as amended will legislate for assisted suicide for terminally ill people with six months or less to live, or 12 months for those with neurodegenerative illnesses. Proponents of the bill had to accept substantial amendments to get it through the chamber, including reducing the time limit from 12 to six months, increasing the age restriction from 18 to 25, and introducing a requirement for those requesting death to have been resident in the state for a year.

"Really, really sloppy"

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who introduced the legislation, has described the assisted suicide legislation as "the most conservative in the world." However, opposition lawmaker Bernie Finn said "This legislation just doesn't stack up. I mean, this is sloppy; really, really sloppy and we are talking about people living and dying." Liberal MP Inga Peulich also voted against the bill. "I'm disappointed for all those people who will be at risk from some fairly bad legislation," she said after the vote.

"Dead wrong"

The state parliament's decision was also slammed by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. "Only a morally mixed up society would approve suicide when it's doctor assisted and doctors should not be expected to forsake their vocation," he tweeted as his 93-year-old father, Richard, lay in hospital following an apparent serious stroke.

He also told reporters that "people’s lives have to be respected and this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong and I hope that a future Victorian Parliament might reverse this. Doctors should be healers, they should never be required to be killers."

The news comes just days after New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, defeated a euthanasia bill by 20 votes to 19. 

News in brief:

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