Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 May 2021


South Australia: Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2020

8:46 pm

Photo of Alex AnticAlex Antic (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise this evening to speak regarding the lamentable South Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill and the equally lamentable social and moral trajectory of state parliaments all across this country, including in my home state of South Australia. The last 12 months have seen the South Australian state parliament pass numerous radical social policy bills, bills which devalue the very essence of our humanity. I'm puzzled by the new-found priority at state level of social policy reform, given the difficulties Australians now face in their day-to-day lives due to COVID-19 and the array of restrictions and shutdowns imposed upon them. In times when businesses are trying to keep their doors open, the South Australian parliament appears insistent upon spending its time debating matters including, but not limited to, the decriminalisation of prostitution, full-term abortion and euthanasia, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Last week the South Australian Legislative Council passed the radical Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill. Rather than adopt the evasive language of the Left, let's call it what it is: state sanctioned suicide. The bill has been introduced into the state parliament despite a recent report from the South Australian Joint Committee on End of Life Choices recommending a wait-and-see approach following the introduction of legalised euthanasia in Victoria and Western Australia. I refuse to believe that members of parliament would wish to send the message that life is not worth living, and I ask those in our state parliament to consider the following: At what point can you be satisfied that someone doesn't deserve hope? At what point can you be willing to tell a person and their family that their life is no longer worth living? At what point can you be satisfied that there are enough safeguards in place?

In 2021 we have access to high-quality palliative care and we can reduce the pain of our loved ones in their final days. Nobody wants to see their loved ones suffer, but the notion that the state would aid and provide its blessing to the ending of someone's life is immoral. It is the responsibility of parliament to legislate to protect its people, and the law should never support any belief that some lives are not worth living. There is no human dignity or freedom in state sanctioned assisted suicide; rather, it poses a very real risk to vulnerable people through coercion and abuse. If passed, this bill will place pressure on vulnerable people who may well feel like a burden on their family or carers, and this would especially affect those who are elderly, sick or disabled. It will also have a profound effect on the relationship between doctor and patient. Instead of having only a healing or caring role, doctors will be burdened with the role of the grim reaper.

Once legislation is introduced, the ability to water down protections and extend the powers becomes very, very real. The slope will become very slippery. We've seen this in jurisdictions such as the Netherlands and Belgium. I too have lost loved ones under difficult and awful circumstances, but parliament should promote a way of caring for the dying without inducing death. We must not forget the sanctity of life and the belief that all human beings are equal regardless of their race, social status or religion.

Sadly, I have little doubt this bill will pass, and so, to those South Australians who hold strong convictions about what is right and wrong, I say: I too share your dismay about what has been taking place. Together we must reclaim the moral narrative and together we must turn this around.