Ms Palaszczuk said she would personally support voluntary assisted dying, insisting it would be a conscience vote.
Ms Palaszczuk said she would personally support voluntary assisted dying, insisting it would be a conscience vote.

Premier’s about-face on euthanasia is pure politics

There is only one word needed to explain why a risk-averse Premier like Annastacia Palaszczuk would bring voluntary assisted dying into the election fray just a few weeks out from polling day - Currumbin.

Instead of waiting for the Law Reform Commission to bring down its report into euthanasia in March next year, a re-elected Palaszczuk Government will fast-track laws to the February sitting of parliament.

Ms Palaszczuk said she would personally support voluntary assisted dying, insisting it would be a conscience vote.

Yet here's what she told Parliament on May 21.

"There are a number of operational issues to work through before we can implement any kind of voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland at this time.

"I have therefore asked the Attorney-General to refer the preparation of voluntary assisted dying legislation for Queensland to the Queensland Law Reform Commission … with draft legislation by March 1 next year for the government's final consideration.''

What happened between then and now? What happens to the Law Reform Commission report now? The move has angered the Catholic and Anglican churches, which say it was a "political'' decision.

Here's the politics. Former Liberal Cabinet Minister Jann Stuckey's husband, Richard, a doctor, is running as an independent in his wife's former seat of Currumbin.

Dr Stuckey has said he will preference the Labor Party before the LNP - even though his wife was a former LNP Cabinet Minister - because it has a clear and concise policy around Voluntary Assisted Dying, which he supports. That policy position was made clear by the Premier at the Labor launch.

Ms Stuckey left politics in controversial circumstances, accusing her LNP colleagues of bullying her and she has been highly critical of her LNP successor, Laura Gerber.

There is a belief within Labor circles that candidate, Kaylee Campradt, can upset Ms Gerber off the back of Dr Stuckey's preferences.

But not everybody in the Labor Party is happy with Ms Palaszczuk's backflip on her commitment to the churches that she wouldn't bring forward the legislation until the Law Reform Commission had brought down
its report.

NSW Upper House MP Greg Donnelly, who has been in Parliament for 15 years, posted online on Friday that Ms Palaszczuk's decision to bring VAD into the election campaign was "utterly reprehensible''.

"Deliberations over proposed laws to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia for legislators are as serious as it gets,'' he said.

"Using such issues to try to secure some base political advantage should be beyond the pale.''

Mr Donnelly said in Victoria, where these laws have been introduced, the public were told about 12 people a year would seek to end their lives through assisted dying. The real figure, he says, is about two people a week.

What I don't like is political parties breaking promises on proper process in a naked attempt to win favour at the ballot box.

 

Originally published as Premier's about-face on euthanasia is pure politics

Richard Stuckey is running as an independent for Currumbin. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Richard Stuckey is running as an independent for Currumbin. Picture: Glenn Hampson

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