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CHN DIGEST ONLINE Feb. 20, 1996, VOLUME I No. 6

ARCHIVE: THIS DEATH BILL WAS REPEALED FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS BILL CONTACT CHN

SPECIAL REPORT ON AUSTRALIA

EUTHANASIA AUSTRALIA:
AMENDMENTS TO VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA LEGISLATION PASSES

Hopes for a repeal of the Northern Territory's "Death Bill" ended today after Members of Parliament debated the bill for six hours, which was then followed by a conscience vote. A majority of the Northern Territory's parliament "passed crucial amendments" to Australia's first voluntary euthanasia legislation, [The NT Rights Of The Terminally Ill Act]. The passing effectively ensures "the act will become operational within months."

Amendments included clarifying "the qualifications medical practitioners need to assess the mental and physical state of a person seeking euthanasia." Additionally, "They also seek to lower the official standard required of interpreters for patients seeking euthanasia who have English as a second language. The legislation is considered unworkable without the changes."

The twenty-five MPs defeated a proposal to enclose a "sunset clause" into the Act "to make it inoperable after July 1999, and another to repeal the Act the day after its enactment...." [ Rohan Sullivan of AAP, rs/cdh/de DARWIN, Feb. 20, 1996]

The debate did not meet without opposition. It was hoped that the bill would have been repealed. Less than two weeks prior to conscience vote, Australian Associated Press reported that "world-first euthanasia legislation is in doubt...." [AAP February 7, 1996] Another report said, Chief Minister, Mr. Shane Stone "rejected announced moves by Opposition MP Neil Bell to have the act repealed as hypothetical." Stone said, "Let me make these two predictions; the first is that the amendments will succeed and secondly that a repeal bill will fail," Mr Stone told ABC Radio.'" [ DARWIN, AAP, February 8, 1996] Also reported:

A spokesperson for Chief Minister, Shane Stone, an opponent of euthanasia, said that "the legislation would be given a chance to work because it was the 'Westminster' tradition". Neil Bell's comment was "the only relevant Westminster tradition is that a law can be repealed if that is the will of the parliament" (The Australian 10/08). [(Australia) Right To Life News, September 1995: p. 1.]
For more information on the Australia Act, contact CHN. Past reports include: "CHN DIGEST ONLINE December 1, 1995, VOLUME I No 1; CHN DIGEST ONLINE December 12, 1995, VOLUME I No2. (The Dec. 12th issue includes a special background report on Australia's "RIGHTS OF THE TERMINALLY ILL") Also, copies of "Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill" are available from CHN by request. Donations to help cover the cost of providing this information would be gratefully received. Thank you. The CHN DIGEST ONLINE is researched and edited by Cheryl Eckstein, president of CHN and is copyright © of the Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN).


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