Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is under fresh pressure from Queensland’s Labor Government to change federal laws that prohibit doctors from using telehealth for euthanasia appointments. Source: The Australian.
The push follows binding changes to the Labor party’s national policy platform agreed to last week.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has warned the Government that regional Australians are being disadvantaged by Philip Nitschke-era laws that threaten doctors with a $313,000 fine for “inciting or counselling” suicide via a carriage service.
All six states now have euthanasia laws but a federal ban on telehealth appointments remains in place, meaning those living in regional and remote areas have to travel to capital cities to find trained specialists.
Under a binding resolution at Labor’s national conference in Brisbane last week, the Commonwealth laws must be reviewed, although it is up to the Government to decide when to do so.
Mr Miles, who championed his state’s euthanasia scheme, urged the federal Government to act before the end of the year to address the “clear inequity”.
Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman and Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath have been lobbying their federal counterparts for more than a year, but the Albanese Government has been reluctant to act.
Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in July 2022 he was “investigating changes”, and on Wednesday had no further update.
Euthanasia opponents say telehealth appointments are not adequate to assess a person’s competence and ensure they’re not being coerced.
Steven Miles urges federal government to act faster on telehealth VAD (By Lydia Lynch, The Australian)