NSW assisted dying law comes to parliament

  • Published October 12, 2021

7 News, 12 October 2021

A law to legalise voluntary assisted dying in NSW will be formally introduced this week.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who's spearheading the push, confirmed the bill will be introduced on Thursday as he issued a notice of motion to NSW Parliament on Tuesday.

It comes as MPs received a petition signed by 100,000 people calling on NSW politicians to work collaboratively on voluntary assisted dying legislation.

Scott Riddle, a 39-year-old Sydneysider with stage 4 bowel cancer, handed over the petition outside NSW Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Riddle, who started the petition last year, said the response had been "overwhelming".

"Terminally ill people in every other Australian state now have the option to die with dignity. Why should people in NSW be denied that right?" Mr Riddle said in a statement.

Mr Greenwich has rallied together 28 MPs from across the political spectrum to co-sponsor the bill, which he says is more than any other bill in any parliament in Australia's history.

But they don't include Premier Dominic Perrottet or Opposition Leader Chris Minns.

Mr Perrottet is expected to vote against the reform but has supported a conscience vote for Liberal MPs.

Mr Minns on Tuesday reiterated that he'd be voting against the legislation.

"I don't think that you can codify the risks for a vulnerable person who's in the latter stages of their life who may feel that they're a burden on their family, on their loved ones," he told reporters.

But he said he believed he was in the minority of the Labor opposition and he "fully respect(s)" the views of his colleagues.

A dozen Labor MPs have signed up to support the bill.

Four government MPs - Liberals Leslie Williams, Lee Evans and Felicity Wilson, and Nationals MP Trevor Khan - will be co-sponsor.

Other co-sponsors include members of the Greens, Animal Justice Party, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, and independents.

Mr Greenwich said the broad support showed that voluntary assisted dying is a "compassionate reform that transcends politics".

None of his co-sponsors made the decision lightly, he said.

"Now it's our job to make this reform a reality. We are the last state in Australia that has not passed voluntary assisted dying legislation.

"I urge all Members of NSW Parliament to work with us in the spirit of collaboration, so we can pass this bill for the people of NSW by the end of the year."

The bill has been endorsed by the Health Services Union NSW and the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association, based on their members' support.

Mr Greenwich's bill would limit access to voluntary assisted dying in NSW to people with terminal illnesses who will die within six months.

If they have a neurodegenerative condition and are experiencing unbearable suffering, that will be extended to 12 months.

No hospitals, facilities or doctors would be forced to participate.

But two doctors would have to sign off on the request and they'd be trained to look for signs of coercion, according to Mr Greenwich.