Labor takes next step on voluntary euthanasia rights for ACT and NT


Terminally ill people living in the ACT and the Northern Territory are about to be able to choose when they die.

Australia’s two territories could regain the right to pass their own voluntary assisted death laws as early as next week after a decision by the federal Labor caucus.

The caucus met on Monday to determine the priority bills of the Albanian government which will be presented this fortnight during the official opening of the 47th legislature.

Among them is a private member’s bill to overturn the ban on the ACT and NT from legislating on issues such as assisted dying, which will be introduced in federal parliament on August 1.

Camera iconPrime Minister Anthony Albanese and his MPs will act to grant the territories the right to establish their own voluntary euthanasia laws. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

The Labor caucus has agreed to give MPs a conscience vote on the Lands Rights Bill, which is unusual given that party rules require voting as a bloc on most legislation.

The bill will be introduced by NT-based Solomon MP Luke Gosling and ACT MP Alicia Payne.

The caucus agreed to allow debate on the bill during government business time next Monday and also in the House of Federation on Tuesday.

Alicia Payne
Camera iconCanberra MP Alicia Payne is one of the MPs pushing for the legislation. Jamila Toderas Credit: News Corp Australia

House Leader Tony Burke said the process was designed to expedite the bill’s progress to get it to a vote in the House of Representatives as soon as possible.

She is expected to move to the Senate, where the Greens and Independent Senator David Pocock have indicated their support for reform.

Every state has now passed laws making voluntary euthanasia legal for terminally ill adults, but a 25-year ban introduced by the Howard government has prevented the ACT and NT from doing so.

Former MP Kevin Andrews championed the bill in 1996 and succeeded in overturning landmark NT legislation of 1995, which would have granted euthanasia rights much earlier.

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