Territory candidates agree legislating for euthanasia is an important starting point, but that more needs to be done to strengthen territory rights.
Territory candidates say the ability to legislate voluntary assisted dying is only the starting point when it comes to territory rights.
Candidates in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory agree more needs to be done to ensure territory citizens have the same democratic rights as those in the states. .
ACT independent candidate David Pocock said while it is an important first step, the issue for the territories goes beyond the ability to legislate voluntary assisted dying.
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“Personal views aside, this is about territories having the same rights as states to make those laws,” he said.
“All Australians, no matter where they live, should have elected representatives with the ability to debate issues affecting them.”
Mr Pocock said he had met with terminally ill patients and their families who wanted end-of-life options.
“This is an important starting point (in the rights debate),” Mr Pocock said.
If elected Mr Pocock says he will introduce a private senator’s bill to overturn the ‘Andrews bill’ passed in 1997 which prevents the ACT and NT legislating on euthanasia.
NT Liberal Democrats senator Sam McMahon introduced a private senator’s bill last year that would enable the NT to make euthanasia laws, but not the ACT.
Senator McMahon’s spokesman said the ACT was excluded due to opposition at the time from ACT senator Zed Seselja.
“If an amendment to the bill was introduced to include the ACT, Senator McMahon would not object … If the senator is not re-elected, the bill will die,” he said.
Senator Seselja’s spokeswoman told AAP he considered the matter a conscience vote.
“He is not opposed to territory rights as a broader issue,” she said.
ACT independent Senate candidate Kim Rubenstein says overturning the Andrews bill is fundamental to democracy, but it is a one-off remedy for the ACT.
Professor Rubenstein wants to double the number of ACT senators to ensure the federal government could not override ACT legislation.
“Having two more ACT senators … guarantees that you don’t only have the major parties representing Canberrans in the Senate,” she said.
“Having four ACT senators would deliver more diverse representation of Canberra and a stronger capacity to resist attempts to override our legislation.”
This story is written by the author in a personal capacity.
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