The public is invited to make submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into the Ensuring Northern Territory Rights Bill 2021. But there isn't much time!
The federal parliamentary inquiry into the Ensuring Northern Territory Rights Bill 2021 is calling for public submissions – by Monday 30 August (!)
The bill, which seeks to restore the Northern Territory's ability to pass laws for itself on important issues, has been put forward by retiring NT Senator Sam McMahon.
Read here how the right to pass VAD laws was taken away from the Territories by the Australian parliament when it repealed the NT's world-first voluntary euthanasia laws in 1997.
Write a brief letter in support of Senator McMahon's bill. Important: submissions cannot just talk about Voluntary Assisted Dying.
Senator McMahon has said:
"Any submission must address the totality of the bill, which focusses on Territory rights, and not just assisted dying/voluntary euthanasia. Submissions that do not directly address the provisions of the Bill, may not be accepted."
An acceptable submission could cover the following points:
- Support for Senator McMahon’s bill to remove the inequality that prevents the Northern Territory from passing its own laws on a number of different issues.
- Displeasure that the federal parliament over-rode the Northern Territory’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 1997, and subsequently prohibited Territorians from passing laws on important social issues - a prohibition not applicable to other Australians who enjoy statehood. This prohibition effectively treats Territorians as second-class citizens.
- Asking the committee members to remedy this disparity by endorsing Senator McMahon’s bill.
- Suggesting that the Territories' inability to have their elected representatives legislate on their behalf potentially contravenes Australia's human rights obligations. This view is supported by ACT Human Rights Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs, who said, "In my view, there is a serious question whether the Commonwealth's Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 is compatible with Australia’s international human rights obligations."
- Urging the committee to consider broadening the scope of the bill to include the ACT.
We need to make sure the committee scrutinising this bill is left in no doubt about the public support for restoring Territory rights.
Please consider making a submission by Monday. The federal parliament was responsible for creating this inequity, and so it is the responsibility of all of us to help right this wrong.
All Australians deserve the same rights and access to end-of-life-choice.