This article was originally published on the HOPE Australia website.
By Paul Russell - The Director of HOPE Australia
The Upper House of the Victorian Parliament debated a government motion introduced today in respect of end-of-life issues. This follows a lapsing of a debate yesterday by Colleen Hartland MLC to refer the matter of euthanasia to the Victorian Law Reform Committee and another pending motion by Fiona Patten MLC along similar lines.
The government motion, by contrast, is for a broad look at all end-of-life issues and does not even mention euthanasia. It passed today by a significant majority.
Not withstanding debate about whether or not the reference is to the appropriate committee (many MLCs preferred a committee of both chambers rather than simply the upper house), there was broad support for the principle behind the motion for a thorough review.
It has been many years since an inquiry of this nature - not relating to a specific euthanasia bill, but looking at associated issues generally - has been considered by any Australian Parliament. As the President of the chamber and other MLCs noted in contribution, this will be a very large inquiry requiring significant resources. The report date of the 31st of May 2016 would seem to be quite ambitious.
So, what are we to think about this motion? There is a degree of cynicism that would suggest that the government is perhaps wanting to be rid of a controversial issue from the chamber so as to get on with other matters. I make no judgement on that but simply observe that, even in that respect, the dismissal of the constant uncertainty about the various other motions and potential for euthanasia legislation at any time has now been put aside until mid-2016 at the earliest.