Emotive issue on backburner during virus crisis
PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has been warned COVID-19 isn't an excuse to drag her heels on voluntary assisted dying reform, after she admitted she still hasn't read a three-week-old parliamentary report recommending its legalisation.
Ms Palaszczuk said the coronavirus crisis had meant she had not yet had a chance to read the lengthy committee report that recommends laws for the terminally ill that largely mirror Victoria's.
But while advocates said they understood she was busy, they said the Government should respect the 5000 people who took part in the inquiry and outline when and how they intend to respond.
Advocate David Muir, of the Clem Jones Trust, said the terminally ill could not press the pause button on their pain and suffering until after the coronavirus crisis, and urged Ms Palaszczuk to appoint a Cabinet colleague to take carriage of the issue.
"We're in a major health crisis now, of course, but the people who are terminally ill are not in a position to put on pause on their suffering," he said.
"And when you realise that here in Queensland there are people committing suicide… this is something that is a major health issue for the people concerned.
"We need to be able to deal with more than one health issue at a time and we don't want it to become an election football if it can be avoided."
Former premier Campbell Newman, who has been a prominent advocate after the death of his mother, said he didn't expect Ms Palaszczuk could deal with the issue in the next two or three months, but she should outline her intentions.
"I say this very much with the knowledge that she's very busy and under significant pressure, but putting that aside, the business of government needs to go on," Mr Newman said.
"The committee has recommended that legislation be considered by the parliament and she should actually clarify when she'll bring that forward for the parliament to deal with.
"I don't think that's unreasonable at all."
Asked whether she had read the report on Sunday, the Premier said: "Not yet, I'm sorry, I haven't had the opportunity. I might get some time next week."
Before coronavirus, Ms Palaszczuk said voters could expect her to release her government's position on voluntary assisted dying after the committee tabled its report.
Asked when Queenslanders could now expect to see Labor's policy, she said: "That's a long way off but I'll get around to reading that (report) as soon as possible."
Originally published as Emotive issue on backburner during virus crisis