Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (4.37 pm): I rise to speak on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill
2021. It is cliche to say that there is a lot of emotion in arguments for and against this bill. There is grief in any death—for the dying and for those left. We cannot take away the pain of grief. It is concerning that some supporters of this legislation feel that having the opportunity to terminate a life will alleviate that grief. While as legislators we understand and empathise with that emotion, it is vital that we think clearly and objectively about the full ramifications of this bill. Euphemistically calling it ‘dying with dignity’ or ‘voluntary assisted dying’ does not remove the brutal reality: we are discussing terminating lives.
If we are honest, we know that current guarantees can always be watered down or tweaked and
new reasons added. It is our responsibility to protect and care for the sick and vulnerable. It is also our responsibility to ask whether we are embarking on undermining the fundamental principles of our society. The true measure of any society is found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. The consequences of this bill are far reaching. This legislation imposes onerous penalties, including seven years imprisonment, for even discussing with someone revoking their decision to die. That is why it is opposed by many institutions and medical practitioners who care for those at the end of their life.
The amendments proposed by the member for Toowoomba South aim to protect Queenslanders
from the overreach in this bill. They will provide stringent eligibility requirements for those seeking to access voluntary assisted dying; strengthen decision-making capacity and the provision of informed consent, including through enhancing the quality and range of advice; provide additional protections for those under coercion or whose decision-making capacity is impaired; align provisions with Australian and international jurisdictions; and enhance research, reporting, monitoring, investigation and compliance. This will be achieved by requiring those acting under the act to have regard to each principle governing the act; strengthening eligibility requirements to access voluntary assisted dying; requiring a psychiatrist or psychologist to determine decision-making capacity; minimising obligations imposed on relevant entities relating to transfer of a patient; creating offences regarding advertising and publishing material to the general public relating to voluntary assisted dying; and prohibiting a person from coercing or taking detrimental action against someone who exercises a right of conscientious objection. I support these amendments.
Human life is precious and all lives should be precious. That is why I support better resourced palliative care. In my electorate of Gympie, Little Haven is second to none in Australia as one of the best examples of palliative care. Little Haven provides a hospice model of community-based palliative care and takes a holistic approach to patient care. Every patient has different needs and care is tailored to address all of the patients’ and carers’ physical, social, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs.
Little Haven values early intervention to support patients from their point of diagnosis, supporting patients undergoing active treatments and shaping compassion by community engagement in care of the dying.
The government’s support for palliative care is poor. Queensland ranks among the lowest in
Australia for the number of publicly funded inpatient palliative care beds per capita. In regional and remote areas, it is almost non-existent. The Premier’s recent $170 million allocation is spread over six