ACT’s complaint a publicity stunt


Complaints that Canberrans have had their human rights denied because the Legislative Assembly cannot legislate on euthanasia are a clever publicity stunt, but are completely without basis, writes Bev Cain. Source: Canberra Times.

Simply put, Australia, as set out in the constitution, is a federation of six states. Commonwealth territories did not exist at the time of federation and they are subject to the powers of the Commonwealth government.

The Commonwealth accepted responsibility for the Northern Territory from South Australia in 1910. The ACT was transferred to the Commonwealth from NSW in 1911.

Some in the Legislative Assembly are concerned that the ACT cannot legislate to give people lethal injections or assist people to suicide. They say this is a basic human right.

But the real democratic issue is that the ACT is not a state and the ACT Government is not agitating for change to statehood. If Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne really wants equal rights with states, the logical step is to demand statehood.

The fact that the ACT does not have equal powers with states to legislate for killing patients with a terminal illness is only one of the many limits on the powers of territories.

The Commonwealth was right to overturn euthanasia legislation in the Northern Territory, where euthanasia was legal in 1996-97, and to stop another small jurisdiction, the ACT, from taking such a dangerous step.

Legal assisted suicide would put the most vulnerable people at risk: people who are terminally ill and do not want to be a burden to their loved ones.

We can affirm the human dignity of all patients by offering them the compassion of telling them they are loved and that their lives are worthwhile. We cannot affirm their worth by telling people they might be better off dead.

Bev Cains is president of the ACT Right to Life Association.


Territory euthanasia is not a human right (Canberra Times)

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