After a historic level of parliamentary scrutiny preceded by two-and-a-half years of inquiries and public hearings, the Western Australian parliament has passed into law the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019.
The Legislative Assembly passed the law on International Human Rights Day, 10 December. It followed a similar vote of approval by the Upper House.
The passage makes Western Australia the second State to accede to the needs and wishes of its community on end of life choices.
It also makes WA the second State to reject the paternalistic demands about how we die, prosecuted by the hierarchies of Australia’s Catholic and Anglican churches and so fiercely defended by their surrogates in medicine and politics.
Their outdated insistence that only their compassion is true compassion has been, as in Victoria in 2017, firmly rejected.
Go Gentle Australia congratulates the politicians, doctors, and nurses of WA for their determination to stand up on behalf of their State’s most vulnerable citizens – the terminally ill.
Above all, we wish to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts by people across the West Australian community to hold their Parliament to account. The suffering they had witnessed – and endured, or are enduring still – would not be denied. Throughout the debate, people from all parts of WA and of all ages, petitioned their MPs. Crucially, their MPs listened.
In tandem with the increased funding and support for palliative care that has flowed from this debate, we believe the passing of the VAD law will lead to better and more compassionate end of life choices for all West Australians.
There is no excuse now for other States not to follow suit. There is no excuse now for the Territories not to have restored their right to decide this issue for themselves.
This victory in WA was extremely hard-fought. We must remain vigilant and defend the gains made. A vocal and powerful minority remains fiercely opposed to assisted dying and would repeal, or make unworkable, this law if they could; they must not be allowed to undo what the people of WA so clearly want.
In particular, we must not lose sight of the fact that there will be an 18-month implementation period before the law comes into effect, during which time there will be a State election
Go Gentle Australia calls on all political leaders to commit to implementing this law in good faith and to avow, publicly, to allow it to roll out in 2021 as intended by the parliament and as written.