'Indefensible' Territories call on feds to restore rights for assisted dying

ACT and NT write to the Government

Article heading image for 'Indefensible' Territories call on feds to restore rights for assisted dying

The ACT and the Northern Territory have again come together to lobby the Federal Government to restore its rights to legislate on voluntary assisted dying.

Legislation passed by the Commonwealth back in 1997 removed the abilities for Australia’s two Territories to introduce laws allowing euthanasia.

In a jointly written letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Assistant Minister for Territories the ACT Human Rights Minister, Tara Cheyne labelled the Federal Government’s decision to now allow Territories to legislate on the matter as ‘untenable and indefensible.’

“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.”

By the middle of this year, all six Australian states will have passed similar laws or be in the process of debating such a change while both Australian Territories remain unable to move on the matter.

“Individuals are entitled to enjoy their human rights without distinction or discrimination of any kind—yet ACT and NT citizens are being denied their right to participate based on being residents of a Territory.”

“We have also drawn their attention to our deep concern that the persistence of this situation is inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations.” Ms Cheyne added.

Previous attempts, as recent as 2018, to have the rights of the Territories restored have failed at a federal level but the Human Rights Minister is hopeful this time is different.

“This is a simple legislative change for the Federal Government to propose and enact which would cost nothing.”

“Regardless of one’s views on voluntary assisted dying, there should not be any controversy in allowing the ACT and NT to decide for themselves whether to introduce such legislation, and to allow citizens of the ACT and NT an equal opportunity to legislate on this matter if their communities desire.”

4 March 2021

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