Territory MLAs urge Federal Senate to Restore Territory Rights

Caroline Le Couteur, MLA

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur and ACT Labor MLA Tara Cheyne have today joined to urge the Federal Senate to lift restrictions barring the Territories from determining their own legislation in relation to voluntary assisted dying.

The ACT had been subject to the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, the so-called ‘Andrews Bill’: a federally imposed law introduced by right-wing conservative Kevin Andrews. The Federal Government added a section to the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 to specifically to prevent the ACT from making laws which would permit voluntary assisted dying.

Ms Le Couteur and Ms Cheyne have come together after petitions run by the ACT Greens and ACT Labor urging the Federal Government to restore Territory rights garnered thousands of signatures.

“The ACT was granted self-government almost thirty years ago. It’s absurd that Canberrans should still be prevented from determining our own laws, and be subjected to these undemocratic and discriminatory restrictions. The people of the ACT are tired of being treated as second class citizens by the Federal Government. Enough is enough,” Ms Le Couteur said.

Ms Cheyne agreed that it was unfair that ACT and NT residents had fewer rights simply because of where they live.

“The Senate choosing to restore Territory rights does not necessarily mean that voluntary assisted dying will be enacted in the ACT. What it would do is simply give our citizens and our parliament the same right to decide for ourselves as those Australians living in the states,” Ms Cheyne added.

“To make a bad situation worse, it’s especially unfortunate that Malcolm Turnbull chose this issue on which to horse-trade with his conservative backbenchers.  Most Canberrans would be appalled to know that today’s vote only went ahead as a result of Mr Leyonhjelm’s support of the re-establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission,” Ms Le Couteur added.

If the Andrews bill is repealed then the ACT would have the same rights as the rest of Australia to make laws with respect to voluntary assisted dying.  In November, Victoria’s Parliament passed historic legislation with respect to voluntary assisted dying.