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VAD a potential vote changer

One in two West Australian voters say they would penalise at the ballot box politicians who fail to support WA’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, a new poll shows.

The research is the first of its kind in WA to test support of VAD based on the Upper House regions of WA’s Parliament and found 76 per cent of people expect their MP to vote in accordance with the way the community feels on the issue, rather than their own personal preference.

The phone polling also revealed more than 70 per cent were satisfied with the legislation’s proposed safeguards and agreed having two doctors assess a person was a sufficient protection.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation State-wide Community Survey was conducted by West Australian Opinion Polls (WAOP) on behalf of Go Gentle Australia and has the largest community participation rate of any poll conducted on the issue to date - with 3,000 West Australians taking part.

Overall 81.6 per cent of respondents said they supported the bill -the largest percentage WA Opinion Polls has seen in its 30-year history.

WAOP Director Jim Lamev said:

"In my three decades of phone polling I have never seen such a high percentage of community support on one particular issue.

“The research also showed that the strong majority of ALP, Liberals, Nationals, Greens and One Nation voters across all Upper House regions supported the Bill and expected their parliamentary representatives to reflect this support with their vote," he said.

“Even with a very large sample size of people surveyed, compared to other polling in the public sphere, the research once again confirmed that more than 80 per cent of Western Australians support and want voluntary assisted dying in WA. It also went to the heart of where the support lies and shows that it is an issue on which people are more likely than not to vote with their feet.

“There is no doubt that this is an issue that people are passionate about and overwhelmingly support. They expect the parliament to reflect the community’s desire for these laws to be in place to ensure that terminally ill Western Australians have another option.

“This is an issue on which people are very highly engaged and have a significant understanding. WA voters are expressing a strong preference for their Parliamentarians to respect the community’s will on this issue,” Mr Lamev said.

Facts from the survey

  • Support for VAD was above 80 per cent in every Upper House Region with the highest support in the Mining and Pastoral Region (84.1 per cent) and the lowest in East Metropolitan Region (80.1 per cent)
  • More than 80 per cent believed people should have the option of a doctor assisting them end their life
  • More than 70 per cent believed that, in isolation, having two doctors assess a person was a sufficient safeguard, even without all the other 101 safeguards contained in the Bill.
  • 76.5 per cent expected their member of parliament to vote in accordance with their electorate’s majority support for Voluntary Assisted Dying, while 17.1 per cent expected them to vote only in accordance with their personal conscience.
  • 94.8% of people who strongly support or support the VAD Bill feel very strongly or strongly about the Voluntary Assisted Dying issue.
  • Slightly more than one in two (52.4 per cent) of people said they were less likely to vote for their local WA members of Parliament at the next election if they vote against the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
  • Awareness of Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 is extremely high at 90.3 per cent.

Questions asked included

  • Based on your current level of knowledge, do you support or oppose the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill?
  • If a person is suffering greatly with a terminal illness from which they will die within 6 months, should they be allowed to get a doctor to assist them to end their own life?
  • The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill requires medical assessments by two independent doctors of the patient suffering a terminal illness – from which they will die within 6 months – before they can be granted a request; is this a sufficient safeguard?
  • If there is strong support for Voluntary Assisted Dying in the WA community, would you expect your local Parliamentarians to vote the way the community feels, or would you expect them to exercise a personal conscience vote?
  • How strongly do you feel about the Voluntary Assisted Dying issue?
  • If your local WA members of Parliament vote against Voluntary Assisted Dying, would this make you less likely to vote for them at the next election, or more likely to vote for them at the next election, or wouldn’t it make any difference?
  • Before today had you heard about the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill?