A coalition senator has branded a landmark bill to lift a ban on the ACT and NT from legislating controversial issues, including euthanasia, as “state-sanctioned murder”.
The private member’s bill, introduced by Canberra MP Alicia Payne and Salomon MP Luke Gosling, will repeal legislation introduced by Kevin Andrews in 1997.
Sarah Henderson said she could not vote for the “deeply offensive” bill because of its “inevitable consequence”.
“I lost my mum and dad, who both spent a lot of time in hospice care at a young age. I’ve seen firsthand what families go through when dealing with loved ones who arrive in end of life,” she told the Senate.
“But to me this bill, because of its inevitable consequences, is a statement that we in Australia are prepared to kill our most vulnerable sometimes in circumstances where it becomes too difficult, perhaps too expensive, perhaps too inconvenient to allow them to live.
“This represents state-sanctioned murder.”
The Victorian senator said she understood some within the ACT and NT thought they should have the right to make the decision for themselves, she could not support it “in good conscience”.
Senator Henderson’s home state was the first in Australia to pass legislation allowing voluntary assistance in dying. On Thursday, she said she still remained hopeful the laws would change.
A final vote will take place next Thursday afternoon during a night session of the Senate. It will not increase until a conclusion is reached.
The bill comfortably passed the lower house in August with a 99-37 vote.
Labor and the coalition gave a vote of conscience on the issue. All 12 Green senators will vote in favor of the bill.
In positive signs ahead of the final vote, it passed second reading by 39 votes to 25.
Finance Minister and ACT Senator Katy Gallagher said it was a “historic moment” for the territories.
“I want to mark this moment and thank everyone for the way we have led this and for supporting territories rights,” she said.
On Wednesday, Mr Gosling said he was confident the bill would pass.
“I think we have managed to convince the majority of senators that we deserve to have our own rights and that it is not up to someone from New South Wales or Victoria or anywhere else. to decide these questions. It’s up to the Territorians to decide,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
Parliament was last asked to vote on land rights in 2018, when it was defeated by two votes.
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