November 16, 2016
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS ( West Torrens—Treasurer, Minister for Finance, Minister for State Development, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy) (21:33):
I rise on this bill, as I have many times over my 18 years in the parliament and this, I understand is, how many attempts to legalise?
The Hon. S.W. Key: Fifteen.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: There have been 15 bills to legalise euthanasia and I have been in parliament since 1997 and every time we have had, I think, very thoughtful debates. The debates always centre around a number of issues and, predominately, those issues include whether people should suffer at the end of their lives. It is like asking 'Do you love your mother?' Of course, I do not want anyone to suffer at the end of their life.
I know that the member for Morphett—who I think is a very good and decent man and someone I have a lot of time for in this parliament—is doing what he thinks is right on behalf of people who are terminally ill. I know that he is a man of goodwill and I know that there are people who are supporting him today, such as the member for Ashford. The work the member for Ashford has done over 15 years has been done because she does not want to see anyone suffer either.Read more
November 16, 2016
The Hon. J.J. SNELLING ( Playford—Minister for Health, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Health Industries) (21:04):
Some years ago a friend of mine died quite suddenly. He was in his 60s. He was an only child whose mother had died some time earlier, and he left behind his father, who was aged in his 90s and from whom he had been estranged for many years. However, late in his life there had been a reconciliation between father and son. As he was without any other family, my family and other friends of this person adopted Robert, which was his name, as an honorary grandfather, and Robert survived my friend by two or three years.
Robert was an avowed supporter of voluntary euthanasia, and in fact had told his neighbours in the units where he lived that he had pills and that, should the time come, he would take those pills and see himself off. When he made an advanced care directive, he made it clear that should euthanasia be legalised in South Australia his express wish was that he be euthanased. He was in and out of hospital. He was very elderly and he deteriorated quickly after his son died.Read more
16 November, 2016
Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 20:53 ):
I was not going to make a contribution tonight on this bill, having spoken at length on the previous version of the bill, but after some consideration I thought it was worthwhile putting some of my views regarding the bill and my general concerns about voluntary euthanasia in general on the public record.
I want to cover a couple of topics tonight: my concerns regarding the impact of voluntary euthanasia on the medical profession; the inevitable broadening of the legislation, which we have seen occur in other jurisdictions; the supposed popularity in the wider community of voluntary euthanasia, something that I would dispute; and the unintended impact that voluntary euthanasia could have on people who are particularly vulnerable in our society.Read more
November 16, 2016
The Hon. J.R. RAU ( Enfield—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice Reform, Minister for Planning, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Child Protection Reform, Minister for the Public Sector, Minister for Consumer and Business Services, Minister for the City of Adelaide) (20:46):
I will be as brief as possible on this matter because it is not very helpful for me to repeat things that have been said by others and, like the member for Bragg, I do not think there is any profit in my going through personal experiences.
I would say, though, to those who are listening to this debate today, whether they be in the parliament or whether they be elsewhere, that hopefully this debate does demonstrate one thing beyond all question: when members of parliament come to this place, from wherever they come, from whatever background they come, at important times they are prepared to bring a great deal of personal ethics, reflection and thought to the important business of the parliament.
If there is one thing that struck me from the contributions of everybody so far this evening, whether or not I agree with what they have said, it is the degree of reflection that those speakers have brought to what they have had to say, and I think it is to the credit of the parliament that in a circumstance as important as this, the parliament does not let down the people. I would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts of the member for Ashford, the member for Morphett and the member for Kaurna in attempting to resolve this matter into a form that is capable of being processed here in a meaningful way.Read more
November 16, 2016
The Hon. A. PICCOLO ( Light ) ( 20:16 ):
In the 10 minutes I have to make a contribution to this very important piece of legislation, it is almost impossible to do justice to the issues and, more importantly, to the people who have made representations. However, I would like to thank all of those people who have taken the opportunity to express their views to me, whether they support the proposed legislation or not. At the outset, I acknowledge that whichever way I vote on this bill, I will disappoint some. Equally, I respect the different and at times opposing views expressed in this chamber irrespective of their moral or ethical basis. All have a valid place in our democracy. Our democracy is diminished when we try to lock out people from engaging in the public sphere.
In an endeavour to do this proposal some justice, and if for no other reason than as a sign of respect for those who have devoted many hours in bringing this matter before this chamber for our individual consideration, I have spoken with a range of people with quite diverse views. Additionally, I have tried to read widely on the topic to explore what has been the experience in other jurisdictions where some version of voluntary euthanasia exists. As I understand the issues, those supporting the bill believe consenting individuals of sound mind and who are in unbearable pain as a result of a terminal or physical illness should have the choice of ending their pain by ending their own life.Read more
November 16, 2016
Mr WILLIAMS ( MacKillop ) ( 20:06 ):
This is, indeed, a vexed question. If it were not a vexed question, it would have been resolved a long time ago. When I look at this, I look at it with the same view that I look at every matter and every question that comes before me as a legislator in this state. I ask myself, firstly: what is the ill that needs curing and is the proposed solution a reasonable and sustainable solution to that ill? When I look at what the ill is, I tell myself that nothing has changed in recent times from what we have had since time immemorial.
Unfortunately, every one of us is mortal. We all face death and we all fear it—not all, as I have known some people who have strong religious beliefs that have enabled them to face death with comfort and ease. Personally, I do not understand how they do that. I do not understand where they get that strength from because it is not something I have, but I do, to some significant amount, fear death and my own mortality. I have lived long enough to see a lot of people suffer and a lot of people die. Notwithstanding that, when I ask myself: what is the ill we need to cure? I am not convinced that we need to bring in specific legislation at this point in the history of our species to cure something which we have lived and died with forever.Read more
November 16, 2016
The Hon. J.M. RANKINE ( Wright ) ( 19:58 ):
This is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation we as members of parliament are asked to consider and vote on. It is a huge responsibility, and one that weighs heavily on me and, I know, my colleagues. Many people have strong views on both sides of this argument, and in the main I think they reflect very much our own personal experiences. I am no different. I will not be supporting this bill brought in by the member for Morphett, and I do not support the bill brought in by the member for Ashford, which has been adjourned and remains on the Notice Paper.
I do not support these bills because no matter how carefully or thoughtfully these bills are drafted, they cannot ensure vulnerable people will not be pressured or coerced into choosing euthanasia and, importantly, neither the independence nor the quality of the medical profession involved in the process of approving someone's death can be guaranteed. Just like other countries where euthanasia has been introduced, this is simply the first step. If people think this is the end of the journey as far as euthanasia is concerned, they are kidding themselves; this is just the start. This bill was not the preferred option. We will see bit by bit the loosening of criteria and safeguards.Read more
November 16, 2016
Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 19:43 ):
It is the duty of us all in this parliament put here by the grand architect of the universe to make laws for the betterment of the community. When I consider a bill, I consider the impact of the bill on every single citizen—from the strongest to the most vulnerable.
This is a bill I have taken very seriously. In speaking on it, I have certainly consulted my electorate again since the last bill on this topic, and I have still come to the conclusion that voluntary euthanasia laws are a dangerous step and we have one shot at rejecting this. There is nothing in the bill that prevents public policy dilemmas, dilemmas like what happens if vulnerable people, such as the weak, the frail and the sick, who do not have the family support mechanisms around them, do not have anyone to protect them?Read more
November 16, 2016
The Hon. M.J. ATKINSON ( Croydon ) ( 19:32 ):
My father died the kind of death described by James Joyce in the opening pages of Ulysses. It is a novel about 24 hours in the life of the city in which my father was born and was published the year before he was born, 1922. It was a death in which, for the last 12 hours, I wished every breath would be his last. Yet he wished to recover and to live, and about 24 hours before he died he tried to get out of his bed in the oncology section of the Royal Adelaide Hospital, pull on his trousers and walk onto North Terrace, where, in his rugby playing days, he had been a patron of the Botanic Hotel.
He was, of course, heavily sedated, and I will never know what he felt in those final hours. In the final hour, in what I regard as a miracle, the rostered nurse was from my father's home neighbourhood of Dún Laoghaire. It was he who administered the last dose of morphine, which depressed my father's respiratory system and caused his death swiftly. Should we always 'choose life', as the T-shirts say? Not always. I would not have wanted my friend, Frank Clappis, who was dying of mesothelioma, to go on any longer. Indeed, it would have been merciful if his life had ended days earlier.Read more
This piece was originally published in The Australian under the title 'Granting terminally ill right to die with dignity is good policy'.
The South Australian parliament almost made history on Thursday morning. It was one vote away from passing a voluntary euthanasia bill through the lower house. Yes, there was still the upper house to negotiate, but suddenly the first voluntary euthanasia law in Australia for 20 years was a real possibility.
After eight hours of debate a final vote delivered a deadlock of 23-23. It fell to Speaker Michael Atkinson, a leading member of the ALP’s religious conservatives and a committed opponent to voluntary euthanasia in any form. He delivered the final blow to the Death with Dignity Bill at 4am on Thursday. Thus ended attempt number 16 to have voluntary euthanasia legislation passed in the South Australian parliament. The near passage of the bill shows that Australia is well and truly ready for a voluntary euthanasia law. The legislation being proposed was moderate and with safeguards modelled on laws running successfully in North America for 20 years.Read more