The Western Australian parliament has taken the first steps in a long process to examine the legalisation of euthanasia.
On Wednesday parliament’s lower house started debating an inquiry on end-of-life choices.
Mandurah MP David Templeman, the minister responsible for the parliamentary agenda, brought forward a motion by Labor MP Amber-Jade Sanderson on setting up the inquiry.
The move was almost stalled when opposition MPs questioned why Labor was using the government’s time in parliament to debate a private members’ motion and criticised the government for not forming a position on a euthanasia inquiry.
But Mr Templeman rejected the criticism.
“Yes, we know that it is a sensitive issue in this community,” he said.
“But for goodness sake I think we have waited a long time for this opportunity.
“I think our community expects us to have this debate.”
Both Mr Templeman and Premier Mark McGowan had indicated their support for the legalisation of euthanasia, but Ms Sanderson warned laws introduced without public consultation “are often deeply flawed and fail”.
“I believe we owe the community and those who are suffering chronic and terminal illness the opportunity to contribute and engage in a process that will explore a range of views,” she said.
“With the very specific purpose of investigating end-of-life choices, this cross-party joint select committee will provide the greatest opportunity for all stakeholders to contribute to the inquiry.”
The lower house is set to continue debating the motion on Thursday.
The inquiry would still have to win support from parliament’s upper house before an inquiry is set up.
Ms Sanderson said the committee should be made up of herself, Baldivis MP Reece Whitby, Mt Lawley MP Simon Millman and South Perth MP John McGrath, along with four members of the upper house.
It is understood a bill to legalise euthanasia would be introduced to parliament in 2018.