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Applause Breaks Out As Queensland Approves Voluntary Euthanasia

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Applause Breaks Out As Queensland Approves Voluntary Euthanasia

Queensland has become the fifth state in Australia to legalise voluntary euthanasia.

After a mammoth debate that went on for two days, the Sunshine State approved the bill for assisted dying to let people pass with dignity.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) bill won't come in effect until January 2023 and comes with a strict set of rules.

People who wish to embark on voluntary euthanasia must be 18 years old or older, have an 'eligible condition' that is advanced and progressive (aka will cause death within 12 months and result in 'intolerable suffering), have capacity to make hard decisions, be acting alone without coercion, and fulfil a residency requirement.

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That final step was included to ensure people weren't flying into Queensland to take advantage of the laws that might not be available in their state or territory.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

In addition to those rules, the decision to agree to VAD will also have to be approved by two medical practitioners.

These individuals will be in charge of assessing the applicant's eligibility, with the applications needing to be submitted three times and nine days apart to ensure the person is absolutely sure.

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The applicant can also retract their decision at any point.

Queensland now joins Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia who have legalised VAD.

When the debate had ended and the votes tallied, there were cheers and applause inside state Parliament.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said outside Parliament: "Queenslanders have spoken loud and clear and we've listened.

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"There's absolutely a lot of work to do [until laws come into effect] and of course we've got those guidelines as well to work [with] so it's all hands on deck until it takes effect."

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

There has been around three decades of campaigning for this result and politicians were happy to give Queenslanders some autonomy over how they die.

North Queensland MP Aaron Harpe said: ""We're now going to be able to provide Queenslanders with a hell of a lot less suffering.

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"I'm proud to have played a small role in chairing health committees that travelled right around the state, 45 public hearings...11,000 people wrote to us.

"I'm going to call it the people's bill."

The bill hasn't come without its criticisms though, with the former president of the Australian Medical Association calling it 'the loosest legislation in Australia'.

Steve Hambleton is worried about 'significant medical holes in it' as it permits doctors to make big decisions about a person's future.

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He told the ABC: "We're asking people with as little as five years graduation to make that call.

"It should be five years after you get your specialty, a much more senior doctor and that person should have expertise in your area on your illness, or they should be a palliative care expert."

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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