Greens Senator David Shoebridge: Territory rights ‘a matter of principle’

Outside NSW parliament in March. Photo: Go Gentle Australia/Facebook

A bill seeking to give the ACT and Northern Territory rights to legislate their own laws, including voluntary assisted dying laws (VAD), is scheduled to go to the Senate the week beginning September 5.

The Restoration of Territory Rights Bill 2022 was introduced by Labor MPs Alicia Payne from Canberra and Luke Gosling from Darwin on August 1. It passed the House of Representatives 99 to 37 on August 3.

Despite the sustained public support and the wide margin in the House of Representatives, concerns remain that allowing a conscience vote means some conservative MPs might ignore the overwhelming majority of constituents in order to vote it down.

NSW Greens Senator David Shoebridge told Green Left on August 10 that the numbers are expected to be very tight when it goes to the vote in the Senate.

Shoebridge said it should be “a matter of principle, not a conscience vote” that Territorians have the same rights as those in the states to pass their own laws.

Some Labor Senators are campaigning against the bill. Advocacy organisations remain concerned also and are urging supporters of voluntary assisted dying to contact Senators to again voice their support.

President of Dying With Dignity NSW Penny Hackett wrote an email to supporters on July 19, saying: “The 700,000 Australians who live in the Territories are not second-class citizens.

“Now that VAD laws have been passed in every state, we simply must make sure that Territorians are not denied access to this safe and compassionate law.”

Cross bench support for the Bill includes the Australian Greens, Independent Senator David Pocock among others.