Queensland parliament will vote on legalising euthanasia for terminally ill patients in September.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk introduced a bill to enable certain patients to choose voluntary assisted dying on Tuesday.
She says the loss of two close relatives last year influenced her decision to push for a conscience vote on euthanasia, which was also an election promise.
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“I have had the very personal experience of losing both my grandmother and my uncle,” Ms Palaszczuk told parliament on Tuesday.
“This has caused me to reflect long and hard on a lot of things, and I honestly feel that the time is right for this bill.”
Under the bill, patients must have either a disease, illness or medical condition that is advanced, progressive and will cause death.
Their condition must be expected to cause their death within 12 months and it must be causing suffering that is “intolerable”.
Ms Palaszczuk said a parliamentary committee would take submissions on the bill over the next 12 weeks.
There will be a parliamentary debate and vote on the laws in September.
If passed, a euthanasia scheme could be functioning in Queensland from January 2023.
The premier has written to the prime minister to ask for federal laws to be amended so that the scheme is fully available for people in regional and remote areas.
She said it was currently a federal offence to use a carriage service such a telephone, videoconference or email to publish or distribute material that counsels or incites committing or attempting to commit suicide.
All 52 Labor MPs in the 93-seat parliament will be allowed a conscience vote on the proposed laws.
Cherish Life Queensland executive director Teeshan Johnson said the bill won’t pass if MPs were allowed a truly free vote.
Ms Johnson claimed that while publicly allowing MPs a conscience vote on an abortion bill in 2018, Labor privately bullied MP Jo-Ann Miller after she voted against the laws.
“If Labor aren’t given a conscience vote, they have the numbers to push this through,” Ms Johnson told AAP.
“But if it’s a real conscience vote, it won’t go through, that’s really what it comes down to.”
Opposition Liberal National Party MPs will also be allowed a conscience vote on the bill.
The Greens and independent MP Sandy Bolton support it, while One Nation MP Stephen Andrew is yet to make a decision.
The Australian Medical Association Queensland and Palliative Care Queensland opposed the bill and have called for a major boost in state funding for end of life care.
The state government is spending almost $150 million annually on palliative care over four years, but both groups say that’s well short of the $272 million needed annually to deliver adequate care.
Three Katter’s Australian Party MPs will also oppose the bill, saying the government should be focusing on improving people’s lives, not ending them.
“While I understand there is great complexity and emotion around issues of life and death, we do not believe the legalisation of suicide (even with the strictest of conditions) is the answer,” party leader Robbie Katter said in a statement.
“The need for a better focus on and improved funding for palliative care services for all Queenslanders through a purpose-built palliative care system has been overlooked as part of the debate around end-of-life.”
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