Voluntary Assisted Dying Amendments
(Legislative Council Amendments, 19 May 2022, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I move: That the Legislative Council amendments be agreed to.
At the outset of this final stage of this long debate, on behalf of the advocates for reform, I thank the Hon. Adam Searle, who joins us in the Chamber, for returning the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 in good shape to the Legislative Assembly. It passed in the Legislative Council with some minor but important amendments, which will ensure that the reporting by the voluntary assisted dying board is consistent with the reporting of the Victorian voluntary assisting dying board, and also that there is increased oversight to palliative care funding and access in New South Wales. They are important amendments that we can all agree to.
I thank all those who have advocated long and hard for this reform. Many of them join us in the Chamber, fortunately. We have the amazing Penny Hackett, Shayne Higson and other board members from Dying with Dignity. I honour the amazing grassroots campaign effort of Dying with Dignity over so many years. We have the team from Go Gentle with Andrew Denton, Kiki Paul, Steve Offner and Frankie Bennett. I thank them for the expert advocacy they have brought to this reform, to make such a difference. I also acknowledge the many supportive organisations that have helped to get us to where we are today: the Nurses and Midwives' Association; the Council on the Ageing; the Older Women's Network; the Health Services Union, with a special shout-out to Adam Hall; Cancer Voices; the Australian Paramedics Association; Christians Supporting Choice for Voluntary Assisted Dying; and Doctors for Assisting Dying Choice.
I also thank the co-sponsors of the bill for their leadership in getting the legislation through this Parliament. No bill in Australian parliamentary history has had more co-sponsors than this bill. I particularly acknowledge that we have brought together a coalition of people to support this reform who are Independents; Greens; Nationals; Shooters, Fishers and Farmers; and members of One Nation, the Liberal Party, the Labor Party and the Animal Justice Party. The entire diversity of this Parliament was reflected in support for the bill.
As members in this place know, we cannot achieve difficult reforms without our amazing staff. I pay tribute to all of the staff of members in the electorate offices who have had to handle the high volume of correspondence that has been generated as a result of the bill. In particular, I highlight the efforts of the amazing and indefatigable Tammy Nardone, who is in the Chamber, and the amazing Jason Gordon from Greg Piper's office. Both have worked tirelessly to help the passage of this legislation. I thank the opponents of the reform for the strong focus that they have put on palliative care and the need to increase funding for and access to palliative care in New South Wales—again, something that we can all agree on. I thank the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition for allowing a conscience vote on the bill, which has brought people from both sides of the Parliament together to have a robust and, at times, difficult conversation.
I make three final points, and then let's get this done. Today New South Wales passes a threshold of honesty and compassion—honesty that not all people die well and compassion that people in New South Wales with an advanced terminal illness should have the same end-of-life choices as people in every other State. As we look to Saturday and the Federal election, we now need to focus on people in the Territories getting the same rights. It is incumbent on members of our Federal Parliament to ensure that those in the Territories are afforded the same rights. I also make the point, ahead of Saturday, that it is clear that Independent members of parliaments can deliver difficult reforms, but we can only do so by working with the parties in a collaborative and constructive way, as we have done with this reform. I seek the support of the House to adopt the Legislative Council's amendments and bring voluntary assisting dying into law in New South Wales.