The NSW Parliament's Upper House Standing Committee on Law and Justice has handed down its inquiry report into the provisions of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021. We welcome the report - but for the bill to move forward, sufficient parliamentary time must now be allocated for debate.
Given that the NSW Parliament's Lower House passed the bill 52 votes to 32 in November of last year, it's right that the Inquiry report has endorsed debate of the bill in the Upper House.
The report does not take a stance on the issue of voluntary assisted dying, acknowledging a range of views on both sides. An online questionnaire, however, where the Committee asked the public their views did present a clear conclusion: of 39,000 respondents, 70 percent supported the bill.
Go Gentle and Dying with Dignity NSW presented to the inquiry, alongside frontline workers, medics and most crucially six families from across the state with heart breaking stories to tell of the suffering inflicted by the current law.
Debate in the Upper House will start tomorrow, with Labor MLC Adam Searle to take carriage of the bill.
However, it's now essential Parliament allocates the bill sufficient debate time to be concluded this parliamentary term. This can be achieved by allocating extra sitting days. There are no sitting days in April, meaning any delays beyond March will push the bill towards the middle of the year.
This legislation is urgent.
Every day we wait, more terminally ill people are suffering. Some have already died waiting for a law, like Judith Daley whose fierce advocacy on this issue was cut short by her lung cancer in January.
What's more, the people of NSW have spoken on this issue. Data collected in the lead up to the most recent byelections found that 72 percent supported the legislation and 69 percent believe there should be no further delays.
Finally, there is a risk that if the bill doesn't reach a final vote this parliamentary term, the bill will lapse and we will have to start from square one.
A bill failed by one vote in 2017. We cannot allow this to happen again.
We urge the NSW parliament to listen to its citizens and allow sufficient debate time for the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021. For many dying people and their families, these are days and months they simply do not have to waste.
To sign our petition to urge NSW Parliament to debate the bill without delay, click here.
To read the inquiry report, click here.