There are 139 reasons to be concerned about Tasmania’s proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

A Tasmanian Government Agency advice and yesterday's review by the University of Tasmania identified 139 issues with the Mike Gaffney Assisted Suicide Bill.

The Australian Christian Lobby's Tasmania Director, Christopher Brohier, said, “These reports require close consideration. The bill's flaws include:

  • Lack of clarity in relation to the critical issue of decision making capacity. Capacity at end of life stages may be fluctuating and the bill may allow a person to make a final request when they may lose that capacity very quickly and so be unable to change their mind;
  • Practitioners to whom a person is referred for a second request need not know the person, their condition, or have any particular expertise in their condition;
  • In parts of the bill, psychiatrists are excluded from the definition of a medical practitioner when common sense would dictate that psychiatrists should be integrally involved in this process;
  • The bill uses many broad terms like, 'palliative care,' 'abuse,' and 'coercion' without defining them which may make the Act's interpretation difficult;
  • Inconsistency and conflict between the Commonwealth Criminal Code and the bill. The Criminal Code prohibits the use of an electronic carriage service (like telehealth) to publish material that directly or indirectly counsels or incites committing suicide. While the bill disingenuously says that voluntary assisted dying is not suicide, such a statement does not affect the application of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

“ACL urges the Tasmanian House of Assembly to postpone debate for four weeks to allow the 139 issues to be discussed with relevant stakeholders.

“If only one life is wrongfully ended because of a poorly drafted bill, that is an irredeemable loss to Tasmania," said Mr Brohier. "This process must not be rushed.”