Assisted suicide still a threat to territory residents

Within days of legislation to allow the ACT and Northern Territory to introduce euthanasia being defeated in the Australian Senate, a new bill was tabled in the House of Representatives to keep the issue on the political agenda.

As reported in The Voice last month, the Senate on August 15 narrowly voted against a bill to allow territories to legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide. ACT Senator Zed Seselja was the only territory politician to vote against the dangerous move.

Senator Seselja argued “this is not fundamentally about territory rights; it is about human rights. The passage of this bill will inevitably lead to assisted suicide in the ACT, almost certainly with minimal safeguards, as supported by the bill’s sponsor. I will stand up for the human rights of Canberrans not to be pressured to end their lives.”

Instability in the parliament means there is a chance the new bill in the House of Representatives might be debated in coming months.

The ACT and Northern Territory Governments have continued their campaign against this restriction on territories, but have not shown the same level of concern for other limits on territory rights.

Territories are treated differently to states in a number of ways, both in the Australian Constitution and in their governing laws.

In particular, states have 12 senators each and each senator is generally elected for a six-year term. Territories have two senators each, elected for a three-year term. This means Tasmania has one senator for every 43,000 people, while the ACT has one senator for every 200,000 people.

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