Private Member’s Bill has little chance, says Speaker
A PRIVATE Member's Bill on euthanasia would be unlikely to succeed in the current Queensland Parliament, according to Speaker and Nicklin Independent Peter Wellington who supports such legislation.
Mr Wellington said while he held strong views on euthanasia and the rights of the terminally ill, unless either the Labor Government or the Opposition was to get behind it, there would be no point in introducing a Bill to the House.
In 2003, three years after first meeting with the very active Sunshine Coast Euthanasia Group, Mr Wellington successfully introduced a Private Member's Dying with Dignity Bill which had the support of the entire Parliament except a One Nation Party member.
Achieving that outcome, which protected doctors from prosecution if they administered medication to relieve pain but in the process brought forward death, took careful research and negotiation.
He first considered sponsoring an euthanasia bill but the more he looked at it the more difficult it became.
The Christian lobby was strong and powerful and, he said, Queensland politics were inherently conservative whoever is in power.
He researched legislation across the globe, finally settling on a South Australian law as the model for his Bill.
"Once I had finalised my position I was able to say that there was a similar law that was working," Mr Wellington said.
He and his wife Jenny also met with Catholic Archbishop John Bathersby who not only said the intent was in line with the church's beliefs but also wrote a letter to Parliament expressing his support.
Mr Wellington also spoke to all the key stake holders including the Australian Medical Association.
"The euthanasia lobby was disappointed," he said. "But better a step forward than none at all.
"There is no advantage in introducing a bill if it just becomes a talking point."
Politics of dying
Mr Wellington said there were three avenues those lobbying for euthanasia should explore.
1. Garner the support of either the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk or Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg.
2. A parliamentarian - either from Labor or the LNP or one of the two Katter members or independent Billy Gordon - could move a motion that would bring on a debate about the subject. The result would not be binding but could lead to a referral to the Health and Community Services Committee
3. Convince the Health and Community Services Committee to independently launch its own inquiry into an Euthanasia Bill. Parliamentary committees have the power to conduct public inquiries and invite submissions from all interested stakeholders.
"Euthanasia has never been debated during my time in Parliament," Mr Wellington said. "But given the public interest and the very strong Dying with Dignity lobby it should be considered."