Marshall Perron, the former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and architect of Australia's first euthanasia laws, has called for the ACT to pass expansive euthanasia laws that go far beyond those passed in other states. He is calling for euthanasia to be extended to terminally ill teenagers, for it to be available for those with non-terminal illnesses, and for advance directives to be used to approve euthanasia in cases of late-stage dementia.
Perron is urging the ACT government to go beyond the standard model implemented in states around Australia.
I urge looking beyond the restrictive, complex laws passed in the Australian states and recommend a regime which responds more compassionately to the wishes of a competent, suffering individual.
The state models bear the scars of political compromise where some legislators gave their support with trepidation, but only after they had made the process more torturous.
The government holds a majority in the Legislative Assembly, and given there is no upper house to review legislation, there is no impediment to the government passing laws as radical as they wish.
Perron is aware that his proposal is controversial. He anticipates that he will be accused of a slippery slope, given that the laws that passed in the Northern Territory 27 years ago did contain restrictions. He says he would not pass such laws today.
“No doubt opponents will yell ‘slippery slope,’” he said. “In fact, progress on this subject is a hard, uphill slog.”
Yet what else can this be called except a slippery slope? Victoria’s laws were passed in 2017, with assurances given about “68 strict safeguards”. Now, six years later, serious proposals to significantly broaden the criteria are being considered, with continual calls for so-called safeguards in existing legislation to be removed in a never-ending appeal to “compassion”.
It would seem that Philip Nitschke’s dream euthanasia regime – death on demand – is a step closer to coming true in Australia, ushered in by euthanasia proponents who all have all along the way distanced themselves from Nitschke’s radical proposals in the name of political expediency.