The Death With Dignity Bill 2016, put forth by Liberal MP Dr Duncan McFetridge, had its second reading debate on the evening of Wednesday November 16. It historically passed to the committee stage after three hours of debate, with the vote being 27 for and 19 against.
Following the committee stage amendments debate, and some eight hours of debate in total, the Death With Dignity Bill 2016 failed to pass the lower house in the early hours of the morning on the casting vote of Speaker Michael Atkinson. The vote to progress the Bill to a third reading was 23-23, with Mr Atkinson's vote bringing the noes to 24, defeating the Bill.
MPs were granted a conscience vote for this debate. Many accepted that there was a proven high level of community support but said that would not influence their vote.
Who Voted For A Third Reading:
Ms Frances Bedford, Member for Florey (ALP)
Hon Leon Bignall, Member for Mawson (ALP)
Hon Geoff Brock, Member for Frome (Independent)
Hon Paul Caica, Member for Colton (ALP)
Ms Vickie Chapman, Member for Bragg (Liberal)
Hon Susan Elizabeth Close, Member for Port Adelaide (ALP)
Ms Nat Cook, Member for Fisher (ALP)
Mrs Annabel Digance, Member for Elder (ALP)
Mr Jon Gee, Member for Napier (ALP)
Ms Katrine Hildyard, Member for Reynell (ALP)
Mr Eddie Hughes, Member for Giles (ALP)
Hon Steph Key, Member for Ashford (ALP)
Mr Steven Marshall, Member for Dunstan (Liberal)
Dr Duncan McFetridge, Member for Morphett (Liberal)
Hon Stephen Mullighan, Member for Lee (ALP)
Mr Lee Odenwalder, Member for Little Para (ALP)
Mr Chris Picton, Member for Kaurna (ALP)
Mr David Pisoni, Member for Unley (Liberal)
Ms Isobel Redmond, Member for Heyson (Liberal)
Ms Rachel Sanderson, Member for Adelaide (Liberal)
Hon Jay Weatherill, Member for Cheltenham (ALP)
Mr Corey Wingard, Member for Mitchell (Liberal)
Ms Dana Wortley, Member for Torrens (ALP)
Who Voted Against A Third Reading:
Mr Troy Bell, Member for Mount Gambier (Liberal)
Hon Zoe Bettison, Member for Ramsay (ALP)
Mr Sam Duluk, Member for Davenport (Liberal)
Mr John Gardner, Member for Morialta (Liberal)
Mr Mark Goldsworthy, Member for Kavel (Liberal)
Mr Steven Griffiths, Member for Goyder (Liberal)
Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith, Member for Waite (Independent)
Hon Tom Kenyon, Member for Newland (ALP)
Mr Stephan Knoll, Member for Schubert (Liberal)
Hon Tom Koutsantonis, Member for West Torrens (ALP)
Mr Adrian Pederick, Member for Hammond (Liberal)
Mr Michael Pengilly, Member for Finniss (Liberal)
Hon Tony Piccolo, Member for Light (ALP)
Hon Jennifer Rankine, Member for Wright (ALP)
Hon John Rau, Member for Enfield (ALP)
Hon Jack Snelling, Member for Playford (ALP)
Mr David Speirs, Member for Bright (Liberal)
Mr Vincent Tarzia, Member for Hartley (Liberal)
Mr Peter Treloar, Member for Flinders (Liberal)
Mr Dan van Holst Pellekaan, Member for Stuart (Liberal)
Hon Leesa Vlahos, Member for Taylor (ALP)
Mr Tim Whetstone, Member for Chaffey (Liberal)
Mr Mitch Williams, Member for MacKillop (Liberal)
In the second reading debate, MPs raised objections such as the alleged 'slippery slope' (or a broadening of medical criteria)” overseas; an alleged increased risk to vulnerable people (such as the elderly, the mentally ill and children); ‘inadequate’ safeguards; and the potential for palliative care to be sufficient for all patients, as well as some denials of the high level of community support for voluntary euthanasia legislation.
You can read more about these arguments, many of them long discredited, by visiting our page The Facts, and this post about the safeguards that were written into the Bill, which was published before further-strengthening amendments were made to the Bill.
Important safeguards or procedures within the Bill were ignored or misrepresented, whether intentionally or in error, by some MPs. You can read the full Bill as it was presented to the House of Assembly here.
Others supported the Bill, or supported further debate on the Bill and proposed amendments. The Member for Kaurna, Mr Chris Picton, in particular, had concerns about the Bill in its presented form, and proposed many amendments to strengthen the Bill’s safeguards and to narrow its scope.
Below are excerpts from each speech during the second reading debate. Links to read the full speeches are included after each excerpt.
Speeches Opposing The Bill
Michael Atkinson MP
“The people threatened by the ambitions of the AVE [assisted voluntary euthanasia] movement are the poor and the lonely and those otherwise vulnerable, those who can be influenced by a society in which AVE is common into thinking that they should end their life because they have become a burden to others.”
Read Mr Atkinson's full speech here.
Vincent Tarzia MP
“I cannot support a bill that would potentially allow suicide to become a business. From my reading, that is what has happened in countries like Switzerland, and that is not right. Those in favour of the bill want to pontificate that they represent the most vulnerable in our society. Allowing this bill to get through will certainly be a slippery slope.”
Read Mr Tarzia's full speech here.
Jennifer Rankine MP
“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.”
Read Ms Rankine's full speech here.
Mitch Williams MP
“… I ask myself: what is the ill we need to cure [in creating this law]? 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.”
“Somebody might put an example to ask about three years later or five years later—I am concerned about what might happen in 20 or 30 years if we open this gate. If we apply our minds to the worst outcome of state-sanctioned killing it is certainly not beyond my imagination to see great evil emanate from this measure—great evil.”
Read Mr Williams' speech in full here.
Tony Piccolo MP
“Opponents of voluntary euthanasia rely heavily on the slippery slope argument. I actually do not share that view because, in my opinion, once you have legalised voluntary euthanasia, it is a natural progression to broaden its application. There is nothing slippery about it; it is a natural progression to broaden its application. That is the experience in other jurisdictions, and there is no sound reason to limit its scope to a broader range of people who are suffering.
In short, if you support this bill, you should be prepared to extend its application or else you would be repudiating the basic principles upon which this bill is based.”
Read Mr Piccolo's full speech here.
John Rau MP
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
“For my part, there are two elements that, even if all the Member for Kaurna's propositions are accepted, still give me cause for concern. The first one, which the member for Wright touched upon, is the in and out of competence problem. That is a conundrum I am still a bit uncomfortable about. The second is that the Minister for Health kindly organised the other day to have a briefing here from palliative care people. I still have a concern that the present structure, even with the member for Kaurna's amendments, may not necessarily adequately exhaust the option of palliative care to explore whether or not that can deliver a satisfactory and relatively pain-free and suffering-free outcome.”
Read Mr Rau's full speech here.
David Speirs MP
“In other jurisdictions, when there has been the opportunity to broaden this legislation, we have seen that occur. We have seen it occur particularly in European nations, and I have said here before that Belgium and the Netherlands are specific examples of that, where children can now be euthanased. There is no getting away from that; I am not scaremongering by saying that children can be euthanased in Holland and Belgium.”
“Capital punishment for murderers and paedophiles is supported by more than 50 per cent [of the population] at first glance, but that falls away as well, and this is very similar.”
Read Mr Speirs' full speech here.
Jack Snelling MP
Minister for Health, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Health Industries
“There are some rights that are what we call inalienable; that is, even if you want to give them up, as a state, we do not allow you to give them up.
An example of that is slavery. We do not give people the right to sell themselves into slavery. Why don't we? Because to do so would be to compromise the rights of everyone else in the community, and the same goes with the right to life. We do not allow people to expect another person to take away their life because it would compromise the rights of all those people in our community.”
Read Mr Snelling's full speech here.
Tom Koutsantonis MP
Treasurer, Minister for Finance, Minister for State Development, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy
“Again, after 19 years, my vote will be no. I know that within my electorate this is overwhelmingly popular. Everywhere I go, when people talk to me about this issue, the same thing is said to me by my constituents, 'We want you to support legalised euthanasia.' I understand why. I understand why they think about this issue because, again, we will all go through it.”
Read Mr Koutsantonis' full speech here.
Leesa Vlahos MP
Minister for Disabilities, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse
“Do we want to have a society where life is valued or do we start pulling back the tide and allowing, bite by bite, people to start disappearing from this place, this state, and not protecting them when they are frail and vulnerable? I, for one, cannot do that and I urge you to vote against this bill.”
Read Ms Vlahos' full speech here.
Tom Kenyon MP
“I have some fundamental, for want of a better word, secular principals in which I believe. First, I do not believe that the state should be involved in the killing of its citizens. I believe that from abortion to capital punishment, to euthanasia, and anywhere in between.”
Read Mr Kenyon's full speech here.
Speeches In Favour Of Further Debate
Geoff Brock MP
Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government
“This is a subject I have witnessed personally from family as well as friends and associates. All of us in this chamber and in this state are aware of the recent journey of Kylie Monaghan in my own city, what she went through and her dedication to the very subject we are discussing tonight.”
Read Mr Brock's full speech here.
Stephen Mullighan MP
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Minister for Housing and Urban Development
“To my mind, the issue is no clearer than this: if you believe that there is currently a small number of people in our community, people who are suffering terribly as a result of incurable terminal illness, people who have exhausted every reasonably available medical intervention and people who have exhausted every reasonable palliative care option, people who despite going through that are still suffering intolerably who cannot bear their predicament who, if given a choice towards the very end of their life, would choose to hasten their death to die and to do so as far as they can on their own terms, should they not have that ability?”
Read Mr Mullighan's full speech here.
Vicki Chapman MP
Shadow Attorney-General, Shadow Minister for State Development, Shadow Minister for Justice, Shadow Minister for Housing and Urban Development
“Whilst I think it is rather a misnomer of description of what we are about to do, I indicate that unlike all preceding bills in the time I have been in the parliament that have offered this sanction and protection, I will be supporting the second reading. I indicate to you that, whilst the detail has been outlined by a number of members, to me, the thing that is impressive and distinctive about this bill is the proposal to reform our current laws.”
Read Ms Chapman's full speech here.
Annabel Digance MP
“I would promote that this bill before us work as a proponent, an impetus to strengthen palliative care services and ensure a robust and accessible system for all South Australians, with clear support and explanation to the patient and those surrounding the patient. I know there are many MPs like me in this place who hold this conviction and wish to champion this. However, this does not take away an individual's right for choice.”
Read Ms Digance's full speech here.
Chris Picton MP
“For everybody in this house and the community, it is hard for this not to be a personal issue. I have had family members who have died long, painful deaths. This has been traumatic not only for them obviously but for the rest of my family. This experience brings me to consider ways in which the legal system could be improved for the end of life, but I would also want to make sure that any action we take to reform the law in this area is not going to cause loved ones harm or allow something to happen that is not in their wishes. This is about loopholes and safeguards and managing risk.
With that in mind, I have considered the bill before us. While it is an improvement on the original bill brought to the house, in my view it still needs significant amendments before I would consider supporting it. In particular, I have looked at the legislation in Oregon and considered a number of protections in that act to be superior to what has been proposed in this bill. I have attempted to review the bill to identify and to remedy the areas of greatest risk. I have drafted some amendments to try and address those concerns.”
Read Mr Picton's full speech here.
Corey Wingard MP
Shadow Minister for Employment, Shadow Minister for Small Business, Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Shadow Minister for Cost of Living, Shadow Minister for Automotive Transformation
“I have read the amendments put forward by the Member for Kaurna as he has just outlined very eloquently, and I thank him for that, and I see that he has looked to tighten this bill immensely. That is a big part of the debate that has a great deal of interest to me. I have discussed with him at length a number of the issues he has raised. To me, they would need to be addressed for this bill to move forward. With those few comments, I would like to say that I have listened, and these amendments that the Member for Kaurna and other members have put forward need to be addressed if this debate is to go to committee stage, from my perspective.”
Read Mr Wingard's full speech here.
Dana Wortley MP
“Whatever the outcome of this debate, the decision we make must not be one that puts vulnerable people at risk. The previous bill I could not support. Tonight, I will support this bill through the second reading and consider the amendments and the impact on the final bill.”
Read Ms Wortley's full speech here.
Nat Cook MP
“… [D]ignity is subjective. Pride is subjective. Suffering is subjective.
It is not for me to say the level of suffering that you are going through and it is not for me to say where your level of dignity lies, but I know from talking to hundreds of people while caring for them, while sitting with them, that there is a point at which dignity for them no longer exists.”
Read Ms Cook's full speech here.
Frances Bedford MP
“I can truly say that I have listened to every contribution to the debate on every bill in the past year, and all I wish to add is that I believe voluntary euthanasia should be part of the suite of end of life treatments available to people, with the necessary checks and balances, of course.”
Read Ms Bedford's full speech here.
Duncan McFetridge MP
Shadow Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion, Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation
“Today, we are able to choose, choose what happens to this bill. We can choose to give life to the legacy Kylie Monaghan wanted to see, we can choose to give South Australians who are dying of a terminal illness the right to choose, to choose the time of their death. They are going to die. They have no choice in that. Remember, we are debating the future of real people in real pain and real suffering. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. They are your family and they are my family. Let us choose to let them go gently.”
Read Dr McFetridge's full speech here.