End of Life Choices report due, emotive topic for Mandurah and Peel region

A parliamentary committee will table a report on Thursday examining the potential for assisted dying in WA, promising to spark an emotive debate in Mandurah and across the State.

The Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices has spent the last 12 months hearing the views of stakeholders, organisations and residents in relation to euthanasia.

This follows similar processes in other Australian States, with the potential for legislation to be drafted to enable assisted dying in some format in WA.

It is likely to come down to a conscience vote for MPs, who will not be constrained by party views in their decision to side in favour or against the legislation.

Mandurah MP David Templeman said he expected the recommendation that legislation should be drafted and subsequently debated.

“I’m hopeful it will be a Government Bill (rather than a Private Members Bill) so we can give it priority for consideration,” he said.

“The key to the debate is that it must be respectful – I respect people who may have strong religious views that influences their view of this.

“I also know there are a lot of people out there who through their own personal experience with loved ones, have been traumatised by watching a family member deteriorate. 

“I think if legislation is presented to the chamber it will be the most significant in over 20 years. There is no doubt this issue will evoke some strong feeling.”

Mr Templeman said residents should contact their local MP to express their opinion.

“I need to see what the model of legislation is going to be but the feedback I am getting is supportive of a form of dying with dignity legislation,” he said.

“My starting point is supporting a piece of legislation that allows people to die with dignity.

“Dying is part of our life cycle – it happens to all of us. I think a lot of people want to have a greater say in that process and choice – that’s where I am driven from.”

Murray Wellington MP Robyn Clarke said she supported voluntary euthanasia for people who are terminally ill or in immense pain.

“Families can find it heartbreaking to watch someone who is terminally ill suffer needlessly - voluntary euthanasia will at least ensure that the person who is ill can make informed decisions on their end of life choices,” she said. 

“Having seen both my parents suffer and knowing that their wishes for euthanasia could not be fulfilled, this is an issue that I have experienced firsthand and I know how horrible it can be to watch loved ones in pain.

“Of course appropriate safeguards would need to be in place, but I believe it is a decision that those who are terminally ill should be able to make.”

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup said he needed to take a number of factors into account before making any required decision.

“I need to consider the Joint Standing Committee report, review any legislation and most importantly, consult with the community before arriving at any decision on assisted suicide or euthanasia,” he said.

Do you have an opinion on the issue? Send a letter to the editor by e-mailing editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.