GOVERNMENT AGREES TO VAD LAWS EXTENSION
Published Monday, 14 December, 2020 at 09:10 AM
Acting Premier and Minister for Trade
The Honourable Dr Steven Miles
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Acting Premier Steven Miles and Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman announced today a date for draft Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) laws, along with a shorter implementation time, following discussions with the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) Chair, Justice Peter Applegarth AM.
The QLRC will provide a review update in February with a final report and draft bill in May. Legislation is expected to be introduced into parliament in late May.
A shorter implementation time of 15 months will ensure there is no delay in Queenslanders being able to have a choice on voluntary assisted dying.
Acting Premier Steven Miles said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to introducing appropriate legislation for Queensland.
“Voluntary assisted dying and other end-of-life choices are extremely complex and deeply personal – so it is important we get this right,” Mr Miles said.
“That’s why we initiated a Parliamentary Inquiry to ensure any laws to allow for voluntary assisted dying will safeguard the lives of our elderly and ensure our most vulnerable are protected.
“We committed to introduce a Bill as soon as we could in this term of government and that it would be a conscience vote for government MPs. That remains our commitment.
"This timeframe ensures MPs and the community can be confident the law reform commission has deeply considered all matters in the Bill, that the Parliamentary Committee will have time to review the Bill, and that MPs will be able to closely consider the proposal and discuss it with their communities.”
Ms Fentiman said Justice Applegarth had made a compelling case for additional resources and an extension to the timeframe for the delivery of the report.
“There is a significant degree of complexity involved with this review,” Ms Fentiman said.
“Although a Bill is currently before the Tasmanian Parliament, Victoria and Western Australia are the only Australian states to have enacted VAD laws and we need to make sure the proposed legislation is workable in a Queensland context.
“The Government is very conscious of the sensitivities around end-of-life decisions and the need to produce the strongest possible legislation that is in the best interests of the community.
“That being the case, it was agreed with Justice Applegarth to extend the final report-back date to 10 May,” said Ms Fentiman.
“We support the Government’s decision because while we want to see VAD laws in Queensland as soon as possible – the overriding requirement is to get the Bill right,” David Muir, Chair, Clem Jones Trust said.
“It’s important to recognise that this decision will not affect the timeline for the operation of any VAD law if passed by state parliament.
“By learning from the experiences with implementation in Victoria and Western Australia, the Government has been able to shorten the proposed implementation period here so there will be no delay to the law taking effect after it is passed.”
Ms Fentiman said the QLRC would provide her with a review update in February which would be tabled in Parliament.
Ms Fentiman added the Government was already taking steps to provide additional resources to the Commission to complete this important work, including making arrangements so that Justice Applegarth will be able to spend a number of months full time on this reference in 2021.
“It is everyone’s desire for the Commission to develop voluntary assisted dying legislation that is compassionate, safe and practical,” she said.
The QLRC released the VAD laws consultation paper on 16 October, with submissions closing on 27 November.
Prior to that, the 56th Queensland Parliament’s Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee held 41 hearings and received 4729 submissions as part of its inquiry into voluntary assisted dying.
Amy Hunter (Acting Premier) – 0423 651 484; Penni Pappas (Attorney-General) – 0438 747 540