The New South Wales Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill (VAD) is heading back into the Legislative Council this week.
After decades of public campaigning and with VAD laws in every other state, the NSW bill passed the Legislative Assembly late last year by a 20 vote margin and survived the subsequent committee inquiry to go to the Upper House.
The Legislative Council vote was always expected to be a lot tighter and advocates and supporters are relieved it passed the Second Reading vote on May 11, 20 votes to 17.
It now moves to the Committee stage for amendments and expected to go back to the council on May 18.
Dying with Dignity (DWD) NSW Vice President Shayne Higson told Green Left: “This is an important milestone and we wish to thank all members of the Upper House who worked collaboratively to make this happen.”
The VAD bill went into Parliament with more co-sponsors than any other bill in NSW history; reflecting that it has up to 80% community support. “Now we know that this law reform also has majority support in the Upper House,” Higson said.
After a slew of last-minute amendments in a bid by opponents to delay the bill, DWD NSW is calling on the Legislative Council members to “work through any amendments in a productive and timely way next Wednesday and then proceed to the final vote”.
“Last minute, hostile amendments were shut down in the Lower House, so we hope that the Upper House has the same zero-tolerance approach,” Shayne said.
“Any further delay will only result in more terminally ill people being forced to endure unbearable suffering at the end stage of their illness.
“This bill is supported by over 80% of the community. Too many terminally ill people have died waiting for this law to pass. It’s time to get this done.”
Video: Countdown to the vote: Can Voluntary Assisted Dying get over the line in NSW? Green Left.