Read: John Rau MP's Speech Against The SA Bill

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.

I place on the record that, were we voting on the first bill, I would have had no hesitation whatsoever in voting no on the second reading. I am, however, aware of there having been a great many amendments suggested to this second bill, particularly by the member for Kaurna. Whether or not I support a second reading of this bill will depend largely on an indication as to whether or not all of those amendments are acceptable. If they are not, it is my personal view that we are going to be left in a position where we will be here for an eternity, and we will wind up with a hotchpotch of amendments—some accepted, some not accepted—and we will wind up with a complete mess.

For me to consider the matter proceeding to a second reading, I would like to be satisfied that it proceeds to a second reading on the basis that, at the very least, the additional amendments the member for Kaurna has proposed are understood to be, in effect, part and parcel of the bill that we will be taking to committee. If that is not the case, then my view is that the bill is still not sufficiently close to being capable of being resolved through the committee of the house process we are in now, and it should probably be dealt with in the way that the legislation was dealt with many years ago, and I think the Speaker spoke about this when it was referred off to a committee. Martyn Evans was the Chair of that committee and it was thought through very thoroughly.

So, if we are not going to get to that place, that is my view about it. I think we would be wasting everybody's time. We would be giving artificial comfort or concern, depending on people's points of view in the gallery, and we would achieve, ultimately, nothing except to have yet another failed attempt to finally resolve this matter. Whatever happens, I have to say that I hope the resolution of this matter this evening puts this to bed for a period of time one way or the other, and I would like us all to think about other things afterwards.

I was very impressed by the remarks made by the member for Lee. I agree very much with what he had to say, subject to the modifications I might have just articulated. The member for Bragg did a very good job of going through the legal and ethical conflicts that are sitting here. Some might find this unusual, but I do not always agree with the member for Bragg, but this evening I thought she helped us with her contributions.

Mr Marshall: Could we have that in writing?

The Hon. J.R. RAU: On this matter. 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.

I put those things on the table but, to make it clear, my personal view is that if all the amendments the member for Kaurna is putting up are not ultimately acceptable to the mover and to the group of people who are supportive of the mover's bill, then my inclination would be to say that we are not ready, that we have not done enough work and that we should go back to the drawing board. That does not mean we scrap it, and I certainly do not mean to be in any way critical of the member for Morphett, who has done an enormous amount of work on this, and the member for Ashford, and the member for Kaurna.

They have moved this much further than I have seen it moved in the entire period of time that I have been in this place. The member for Morphett and I have been here for the same period of time and he knows exactly what I am talking about. So, I wait with interest to see how we wind up.

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