A bid to legalise voluntary euthanasia in Western Australia has been defeated. MPs were granted a conscience vote on the legislation. The Greens MP Robin Chapple introduced the private members bill which would allow West Australians over the age of 21 with a terminal illness and who are sound of mind, to ask a doctor to end their life. It's the first time state MPs have debated the issue and after two days of consideration, the bill was defeated 24 votes to 11.
The Health Minister Kim Hames says he will not support a private members bill on voluntary euthanasia being debated in the upper house. The legislation would allow West Australians over 21 with a terminal illness, who are of sound mind and able to communicate their intentions, to ask a doctor to end their life. MPs have been given a conscience vote on the issue and Dr Hames has told the ABC he used to support voluntary euthanasia when he was a GP but has since changed his mind. "As doctors we're there to save lives and I just couldn't myself be the one injecting the substance that takes somebody's life and so my feelings have moved away," he said.
The divisive issue of euthanasia is back on the Victorian political agenda, with MPs from across politics calling for Parliament to debate the issue after November's state election. State government minister Maxine Morand has broken ranks with Premier John Brumby saying she hoped there would be an opportunity for Parliament to consider euthanasia laws as there is a strong community view that it is time for the debate. Ms Morand's support for euthanasia change was backed yesterday by Environment Minister Gavin Jennings. Both ministers acknowledged it was not government policy to change current laws.
Geoffrey Robertson QC is a barrister of international standing and a capable media personality. On the basis of his public reputation, his new book, The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, no doubt timed to coincide with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain for the beatification of John Henry Newman, deserves a response. The book exhibits many errors of fact and dramatic and false claims that need correcting. Robertson is known to be polemical in style but polemics cannot excuse inaccuracy. Robertson claims: "While there can be no objection to an organisation disciplining members for a breach of arcane rules, there is every objection when those breaches amount to serious crimes and the organisation claims the right to deal with them internally without reporting them to the police" (The Sydney Morning Herald, September 9). This comment needs to be challenged.
More than 100 traumatised Aborigines from riot-torn Yuendumu in central Australia have made an 1800km journey to Adelaide, arriving without warning and leaving South Australian authorities scrambling to find them shelter. At least 30 children were among the group of Warlpiri people who arrived in Adelaide in a convoy of buses and cars and were squeezed into emergency housing yesterday in the city's tough northern suburbs. At one home, more than 30 people of varying ages were deposited with their luggage. A frustrated South Australian Premier Mike Rann said it was the media, not the Northern Territory or federal governments, who advised him the displaced Aborigines were on their way.
Demand from the Coalition and the Greens for a big boost to mental health is shaping as an early challenge for the minority Labor government. Both non-government parties at the election pledged to expand mental health services significantly - in contrast to Labor's modest policy - and are now signalling they plan to press the issue early in the term of the new Parliament, which sits for the first time next week. The opposition's health spokesman, Peter Dutton, told the Herald yesterday that ''the Coalition is keen to see an outcome on mental health. ''We will explore opportunities in the new Parliament to work with the Greens and independents,'' Mr Dutton said.
A former senior adviser to Ted Baillieu has branded the Opposition Leader a coward and weakling who lacks real leadership, in an attack over his ex-boss's stance against gay marriage. In an email sent to Mr Baillieu, Liberal Party figures and several state MPs, the openly gay Michael Gillies Smith accused Mr Baillieu of trading human rights to try to grab votes. ''Ted, am I, a person who happens to be attracted to the same sex, allowed the same basic rights as everyone else?'' Mr Gillies Smith wrote. ''When will you stand up for the people you say you represent. You are hurting innocent people. Stop. Think. What sort of human being are you?'' Mr Gillies Smith was Mr Baillieu's media adviser in the 2006 election campaign and has worked for cabinet ministers in the Howard and Kennett governments. He unsuccessfully ran for the Liberals at the 2007 federal election.
An assult on homelessness, designed to cut by half the number of Victorians ''sleeping rough'' over the next decade, will be a centrepiece of the state government's election platform. Premier John Brumby will unveil a $42 million package today in a bid to reinforce Labor's social justice credentials as the party comes under siege from the Greens in the lead-up to November's election. The package aims to shift the focus of government policy from trying to find emergency accommodation for people already on the street, to preventing people from reaching crisis point by tackling the root causes of homelessness. The policy will be condemned by the opposition as being too little, too late, from an 11-year-old government and comes after a warning to state cabinet that the number of homeless people in Victoria could blow out from about 20,000 now to 24,000 by 2020 unless quick action is taken.
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell will give their MPs a conscience vote on proposed voluntary euthanasia laws. Greens MP Cate Faehrmann on Wednesday flagged her party's intention to introduce a bill giving terminally ill patients the right to end their own lives. It follows similar proposals in South Australia and Western Australia, and a federal Greens proposal to restore the right of future territory governments to introduce laws to legalise euthanasia.
Chief Minister Paul Henderson is still running scared from the voluntary euthanasia debate. Yesterday he repeatedly refused to reveal his position on an issue that has consistently attracted high levels of support in the Territory. He said he could only comment if and when any future proposed legislation was put before him. "It's hypothetical to say how I will or won't vote on an issue when I haven't seen the detail of (a) Bill," he said.
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