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The ACT Government has proposed not restricting access to its euthanasia scheme based on an expected time frame of death (ABC News/Lewi Hirvela)

An ACT Legislative Assembly committee has recommended changes to a bill that would legalise voluntary euthanasia, to “more clearly define” who would be eligible for the scheme. Source: ABC News.

The select committee was established when the ACT Government introduced the bill last year, following a significant campaign to overturn federal legislation that prevented the territory from considering the issue. The committee’s final report was released yesterday.

Voluntary assisted dying (VAD) schemes have already been legislated in all six Australian states, but the ACT Government has proposed not restricting access to the scheme based on an expected time frame of death.

Instead, the current bill says a person must have a condition that is “advanced, progressive, and expected to cause death” with a condition considered advanced if the person is “in the last stages of their life”.

The inquiry heard concerns the terminology is too subjective and ambiguous, and the committee has recommended amendments to clarify the eligibility.

In her evidence, Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne said she acknowledged the need for further consideration.

The committee has also recommended more community education and awareness of alternatives to VAD for people with a terminal condition.

The two opposition members of the committee, Liberal MLAs Leanne Castley and Ed Cocks, have written a dissenting report calling on the assembly not to pass the bill in its current form. The pair want the law to be amended and brought in line with existing legislation in other jurisdictions.

“The bill presented by the minister represents the most ideological and extreme assisted dying legislation in the country,” the dissenting report said.

The pair has also recommended more support for conscientious objectors, after religious leaders raised concerns during the inquiry. In its current form, the bill requires a practitioner who refuses to facilitate access to VAD to refer a person to a different practitioner.

The ACT Government has four months to respond to the inquiry’s report.


Changes to clarify eligibility in ACT voluntary assisted dying bill recommended by Legislative Assembly committee report (By Patrick Bell, ABC News)


Liberal dissenters blast most ‘extreme’ VAD proposal (Canberra Times)