Tasmania Becomes Third Australian State to Pass Euthanasia Law

March 24, 2021 Updated: March 24, 2021

Tasmania will become the third Australian state to legalise euthanasia after the law was approved by the state Parliament’s upper house on Tuesday night.

It comes as state-level parliamentarians across the country continue to push for the practice to be legalised.

The Tasmanian upper house’s vote comes just weeks after the lower house approved the End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill on March 5, by a margin of 16-6.

Premier Peter Gutwein and Deputy Jeremy Rockliff of the right-leaning Liberal Party-backed the law, despite voting against similar legislation three years ago.

Epoch Times Photo
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein provides a media update in Hobart, Thursday, April 30, 2020. (AAP Image/Rob Blakers)

The End-of-Life Choices Bill is expected to be active in 18 months and is the fourth attempt at implementing the euthanasia in the island state, after failed attempts in 2009, 2013, and 2017.

Similar laws already exists in Western Australia and Victoria, which was the first jurisdiction to successfully legalise euthanasia in the country.

Members of Parliament (MP) in other states and territories are also campaigning for the practice to be legalised.

Labor Upper House MP Kyam Maher is behind South Australia’s 17th attempt to introduce euthanasia in 25 years.

“It’s time to change this law. It’s time to let terminally ill South Australians safely and legally choose how to end their life,” he told Parliament on March 17.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Law Reform Commission has been tasked by the Palaszczuk government with drafting similar laws.

Epoch Times Photo
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk talks to the media on January 07, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)

MPs in the Northern Territory (NT) and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are urging the federal government to overturn a 1996 ban on euthanasia laws in the territories by Liberal Federal MP Kevin Andrews.

“We have emphasised our ongoing concerns about the stark inequity between states and territories regarding voluntary assisted dying,” NT Attorney-General Selena Uibo and ACT Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne wrote in a joint letter on March 4.

“It is hard to fathom-and embarrassing-that the federal government allows a situation to persist, which limits some residents’ human rights in our own country.”

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner also backed the letter.

The ban was introduced after NT became the first jurisdiction in the world to pass euthanasia laws in 1995.

Meanwhile, Tasmanian State MP Michael Ferguson, and fellow Liberal Party member to the premier, opposed euthanasia saying, “A key foundation of law in Western civilisation is the prohibition of intentional killing.”

Epoch Times Photo
Tasmanian Liberal MP Michael Ferguson at a special sitting convened during Tasmania’s COVID-19 crisis in Hobart, Thursday, April 30, 2020. (AAP Image/Rob Blakers)

“In the sincere but misdirected attempt to end all suffering, that foundation is being undermined and eroded,” he told Parliament in December. “And if that occurs, we are left with no foundation and no coherent basis to continue to believe in the fundamental dignity of human life.”

Senator Eric Abetz previously told The Epoch Times that euthanasia advocates tend to promote the notion that strict safeguards will ensure the laws are not abused. However, he said in reality, the laws are often “loosened” and thresholds drop “lower and lower.”

A 2011 paper in Current Oncology, a Canadian medical journal, found safeguards were “regularly ignored and transgressed” after examining Belgium and the Netherlands, some of the earliest jurisdictions to legalise the practice.

Currently, in Flanders, Belgium, only 52.8 percent of euthanasia (or assisted suicide) cases were officially reported, in contravention of the laws.

Likewise, in the Netherlands, regulatory standards have been lowered to extend to newborns, children, and people with dementia.

There is now public debate over expanding euthanasia to include those who are “tired of life” even if they are perfectly healthy.

Since legalising the practice in 2002, euthanasia accounted for 4.4 percent of the Netherlands’ total death rate (pdf) in 2016.