Following the passage of the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022 late last year, which removed the prohibition on territory governments passing euthanasia laws, the ACT government has wasted no time in forging ahead with its euthanasia plans, first with its compulsory acquisition of the Calvary Catholic Hospital and hospice, Clare Holland House, and then announcing its plans for a euthanasia regime.
The territory government has indicated it is intending to have a final model ready by the end of the year.
Ahead of the vote on the territory rights bill, the former Liberal Senator for the ACT, Zed Seselja published his reasons for opposing the legislation. He correctly predicted that if the prohibition on euthanasia legislation were to be lifted, the ACT would enact the country’s most radical euthanasia laws.
At the time, he wrote:
“What is likely (based on the record of this Labor-Greens government) is that we would have the most extreme assisted-suicide legislation in the country, and could see the kind of results unfolding in parts of Europe and North America, where assisted suicide goes well beyond late-stage terminal illness. In Belgium, it is available to children. In the Netherlands it's available to children, new-born babies with serious disabilities and people with dementia and mental illness. Canada has also passed legislation to make assisted suicide available to those with mental illness.”
Tara Cheyne, the local Minister responsible for the legislation, dismissed his concerns at the time as “scaremongering”.
And yet, the government’s recent announcement about its euthanasia plans vindicates the former Senator and all those who predicted exactly this outcome.
Shamelessly, Ms Cheyne recently announced the government’s plans to allow teenagers as young as 14 to be eligible for euthanasia, to do away with “arbitrary” expected death timelines of six to twelve months, and a commitment to exploring euthanasia for dementia patients.
Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher Sydney said that “every jurisdiction that had introduced assisted suicide had relaxed restrictions over time, cautioning that by setting such a low bar the ACT would see standards ““end up in the gutter with no protections at all””.
The announcement has been met with widespread criticism, with calls for the territory government to be sacked:
Anthony Albanese needs to call in the administrators and sack the glorified local council that is the ACT government.
The Labor-Greens coalition, which has run Canberra for almost 22 years, is out of control and behaving like a regime that can do what it wants with impunity.
The ACT government's pursuit of a radical social experiment through its takeover of Calvary Hospital and its intention to pass extreme euthanasia laws, while not surprising, are nevertheless deeply concerning, not least of all for vulnerable people living in the ACT.