NSW politicians are gearing up for a lengthy debate on euthanasia after nearly 100 amendments to a new Bill were flagged.
Voluntary assisted dying advocates urged upper house MPs who oppose the Bill not to “obstruct” the legislative process with bad faith amendments during a debate which was due to be held on Wednesday.
“We hope they fulfil the mandate the (lower house) gave them to pass the Bill, and in doing so, reflect the will of the people of NSW who overwhelmingly support this,” independent lower house MP Alex Greenwich said.
“We urge them not to obstruct it, but to allow a respectful and robust debate and have this result this week.”
Those in favour of the legislation have claimed MPs who move large numbers of amendments do so to stall the Bill, which has passed votes in both houses.
Wednesday’s debate could be the final hurdle for the Bill, unless it’s amended, in which case it will return back to the lower house again.
If made into law, it would bring NSW in line with all other states in legalising voluntary euthanasia for people with incurable medical conditions who have fewer than 12 months to live.
By 4pm on Tuesday a total of 91 amendments from four MPs had been submitted.
Independent Fred Nile had submitted 49 of those, and Labor MP Greg Donnelly 33.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party leader Robert Borsak had three to his name, and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell six.
The Nile amendments would limit the ability of patients to self-administer euthanasia drugs and strengthen requirements to record data on deaths.
“The self-administration of the deadly drugs prescribed in this Bill greatly concerns me, especially with regards to the safety of vulnerable elderly Australians. My amendment seeks to prohibit the unsupervised application of the proscribed drugs,” Reverend Nile said.
He described his other set of amendments as “innocuous”.
“It is simply asking for the details surrounding the death of a person who has elected to be collected and kept as a record. The current Bill does not do that,” he said.
Mr Donnelly‘s amendments touch on various aspects of the Bill, including the eligibility criteria for patients.
Labor leader Chris Minns, who like other party leaders allowed his members to vote as they pleased, said he didn’t know why Mr Donnelly had moved so many amendments.
“I suspect if I asked whether this was a delaying tactic, the member would come back to me and say absolutely not,” Mr Minns said.
“The best way the NSW parliament has to deal with a large number of amendments is to sit continuously until the legislation is passed.”
The amendment debate will likely take up most of Wednesday and is expected to go on well into the evening.
Beverly Baker, chair of lobby group Older Women’s Network, said it was “absolutely obvious” the Bill was supported by most NSW residents.
“I think it’s absolutely disingenuous of MPs to try to oppose the legislation through amendments, filibustering and mucking around, when it’s crystal clear the people of NSW support it,” she said.
Some Christian aged care providers have argued facilities should have the right to deny patients voluntary assisted dying.
“Best case scenario for us would be the non-passing of the bill, but in the worst case scenario, we believe that there’s grounds to have an amendment in there,” Hammondcare palliative care general manager Andrew Montague told 10 News.