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February 27, 2021

Vic govt accepts assisted dying advice

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Assisted dying laws will be introduced into Victoria’s parliament “soon” and could be voted on by the end of the year after the government accepted all of the recommendations of an expert panel.

The panel investigated laws that will allow terminally ill patients to choose to die and made 66 recommendations.

“Soon we’ll bring a bill to the parliament for voluntary assisted dying,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in a Facebook video on Tuesday.

The regime will be the “safest” in the world, with “rigorous checks and balances”, Mr Andrews said.

“This is about dignity, choice and giving Victorians the support and care they deserve in their final moments,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Andrews told ABC radio he hoped the debate and vote on the laws would be done by the end of the year, saying: “The time has come to make some profound change.”

Mr Andrews anticipated a long debate on the laws, saying the model put forward was conservative and did not go far enough for some but would be too far for others.

“I think the balance has been struck in the right place here and we’ll accept all those recommendations for a voluntary system, an informed system where you need to make enduring choices with all the appropriate safeguards,” he said.

Mr Andrews changed his mind on the practice after his father’s death from cancer.

A ministerial advisory panel on Friday revealed its recommended guidelines, including that a patient would need to be expected to die within 12 months, show sufficient mental capacity to make the decision, and be a Victorian resident at least 18 years’ old.

The medication, which is yet to be finalised, would be dispensed in a lockable box by a pharmacist.

The panel also suggested safeguards including offences for inducing a patient to request assisted dying, proposed offences for falsifying assisted-dying records and administering medication to someone who lacked the sufficient decision-making capacity.
If the laws are passed by the end of the year, it could be in practice by 2019.

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said Labor MPs would have a conscience vote on the bill.

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