Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (22:02): I rise to speak to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020. I have been one who has made it perfectly clear where I am going to go on this bill, and I will not be supporting it. I will watch the debate with interest when we get to the committee stage, on the 124 clauses, to see what amendments I either support or not support. I note the amendments put forward by the member for Davenport in getting institutional rights of conscientious objection up, and I commend him for that.
I acknowledge the various views on this matter and I certainly acknowledge that some people have come to a different view about the bill. I think it is the third or fourth time in my 15-plus years that euthanasia has come up. I was certainly here last time, five years ago, when the vote was called at 4.23 in the morning. Speaker Atkinson had the casting vote and the bill was lost.
It was interesting at the time because there was a lot of debate from medical professionals, either nurses or doctors, and family members, about the perceived risk of what happens in the system when people do go gently into the night. I will read the section that is actually written into the bill. It provides:
Section 17 of the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995 provides that a medical practitioner does not incur liability where certain medical treatment incidentally, rather than intentionally, hastens the death of a patient.
Certainly, the side effect of pain relief—it might be morphine, it might be something else—can be death. Some people would argue that that is euthanasia. No, it is palliative care and it is working through the pain involved in the patient at the time. Do not worry. I have had the lobbying from everyone and there may be a small number of people who cannot get pain relief.
But I have been consistent with my views in the time I have been in this place and I do listen to the views of my electorate of Hammond. There has been significant lobbying once again, and it is basically black and white with this legislation. You cannot be halfway. So we have strident views from either side. Everyone in this place would have been lobbied the same way.
We have all had our personal experiences. I witnessed the death of my father six years ago. He had a small stroke and a small heart attack. I got it straight, and the medical profession were very gentle. Two of the best doctors in Murray Bridge were talking to me at the time—my father was nearly 95—and they said, 'He has about four days to live.' I said to one doctor that night, 'What if we get him into hospital?' He said, 'He might get a day or two.' He was residing at Resthaven at Murray Bridge and their care was exemplary—absolutely exemplary. The medical profession were about spot on: it was about four days. He was being assisted with his pain relief, I will say that.
I have also had an uncle—and I spoke of Uncle Les last time—who was a veteran of World War II. He served in the Navy, then he served in Korea in the Army, then he served in the Federal Police on Crete and also Maralinga after the nuclear weapons testing. He was a very strong man. I do not say this lightly because when you go to a place like Mary Potter Hospice that administers fantastic palliative care, it is pretty well a one-way trip. He went in and came out and some time later on went back there.
They are just a couple of stories, but it is hard to validate whether it is six months or 12 months for person's death to come. A very dear friend of mine who in October the year before last was given maybe 12 months to live with treatment for pancreatic cancer. If anyone knows anything about pancreatic cancer, it is a death sentence. There is no way back and, once you know you have it, evidently that is it. It will happen. Death will happen. No amount of treatment will stop the terrible disease. But this person is still going and he may outlive that diagnosis by a couple of years. He is doing great service in a position in the community. I hope he does it for a long time yet, I really do.
One part of the legislation where I think there is a bit of confusion in the community, and I am not trying to be cute in saying that, is the clause that provides: 'the person must have decision making capacity in relation to voluntary assisted dying'. In that regard, during the lead-up to this debate some people have a friend, a relative or someone who is sadly suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's or another mental-related illness, and they have thought that they can make the decision to take their own life. Under this bill, that is not true; it cannot happen and will not happen, according to the way the legislation is written.
There have been reports from overseas where legislation has gone through where hundreds of people supposedly did not give the express permission for euthanasia, and you cannot come back. I note the work that has been done on this bill, I note the work that was done on the Victorian legislation and I note the work that was done on the Tasmanian legislation. I know the Hon. Mike Gaffney from Tasmania ran a major campaign and a roadshow of forums right around Tasmania, debating with communities right around the island before that legislation went through the Tasmanian parliament.
We have heard the concerns of other members here tonight, and I acknowledge everyone's viewpoint, but I certainly will not be supporting state-sanctioned killing, because I certainly believe that is what it is. I will be looking at the debate during the 124 clauses of the committee stage with much interest. We have excellent palliative care in this state, and I am a firm believer that we should strengthen our palliative care so that we can get those good end-of-life options with excellent palliative care that people absolutely do require—there is absolutely no doubt.
There are difficult times, and I get that; I have seen it myself. However, for the value of human life I will not be supporting the bill. I will certainly be taking much interest in the committee stage when we get to that, but I do acknowledge everyone's different viewpoint in relation to this bill.
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