March 16, 2023
Euthanasia Advocates Blast Territory Labor Government over Inaction
ABC News reports that ‘The Territory Labor government says its legislative schedule is too busy to go to a vote in this term High-profile advocate.’
Philip Nitschke says the Fyles government is ‘dragging the chain’.
Once a world leader on voluntary assisted dying, advocates say the Northern Territory is now lagging behind the rest of Australia.
Over seven years, Naomi Oliver watched her mother succumb to the cruel fate of dementia – bound to a wheelchair, incontinent, unable to recognise her own family.
Ms Oliver does not want to end up the same way.
The Darwin resident said she wants to be able to legally choose to end her life, if it gets to a point where she can no longer function.
Naomi Oliver says she wants the option of choosing to die on her own terms.(ABC News: Ian Readfern)
And she does not want to have to leave her Northern Territory home to do so, either.
“I think it’s time our government actually stepped in and looked at the legislation,” she said.
Once a world leader on the issue, furious advocates say the territory is now coming a “very, very poor last” in achieving voluntary assisted dying laws.
After long-awaited reform at the federal level late last year, the NT and ACT won back the right to legislate on the issue.
Naomi Oliver’s mother supported voluntary assisted dying laws but did not have the option during her seven year journey with dementia.(ABC News: Ian Readfern)
But Territory Labor has said it won’t move on the issue until at least next year, after a general election.
“They may not even be here [after] the next election, why are they delaying?” Ms Oliver said.
“I think it’s just a cop out, frankly, when every other government in Australia is looking at this.”
Government focused on other priorities, chief minister says
For a brief window in the mid-1990s, euthanasia was legal in the NT, before it was shutdown by the conservative federal government of the day.
Right-to-die legislation … what’s next?
The Northern Territory sparked global controversy in the 1990s when it became the first place in the world to legalise euthanasia. Then, the federal government overturned it. But that all changed yesterday.
When the decades-old Commonwealth ban was over-turned last year, former Country Liberal Party chief minister Marshall Perron was in the public gallery, which burst into applause.
Current Chief Minister Natasha Fyles welcomed the change and repeated her public support for reform.
But she confirmed this week her government is not progressing legislation at this stage.
In the ACT, consultation is underway and a bill set to come to its legislative assembly by the end of the year.
Naomi Oliver’s father.(Supplied: Naomi Oliver)
“In terms of that issue, it will be something we consider … potentially after the next election,” Ms Fyles said this week.
“We’ve got a very busy legislative schedule, and key priorities. We certainly think it’s important, and we’ll continue to work in that space.”
Philip Nitschke says he’s being ignored by Fyles government
High-profile former physician and euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke told the ABC he had reached out to the territory government to discuss how it plans to move forward on the issue.
He said he had also sent a letter to Attorney-General Chansey Paech but received no response.
Dr Philip Nitschke says he’s been ignored by the territory government.(AAP: Joe Castro)
Mr Nitschke said the territory government was “sitting on its hands” and described the plan to leave reform until after the next election as “weak and cowardly”.
“It’s surprising, disappointing, and a little bit hard to comprehend,” Mr Nitschke said.
“What you’re going to see is people that are even feeling that this might be an issue, making plans to leave the territory and go to a place that they would argue, and I would agree, is more civilised.”
Mr Nitschke said he plans to visit Darwin next month to hold a forum on the issue.
Mr Paech did not respond to questions from the ABC about why he had not replied to Mr Nitschke’s correspondence or requests for a meeting.
Naomi Oliver says she wants to be able to legally choose to end her life, if it gets to a point where she can no longer function. The NT government has been criticised for saying it won’t move on the euthanasia issue before the next election.