Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017
I want to speak in favour of the motion that Mr Morris has put up. This is a pretty complex piece of legislation. It is the thickest piece of legislation that I have certainly had placed in front of me since I have been in this chamber, which is only just over a year — 126 pages of it. This is a pretty complex piece of public policy that we are debating here today, and it looks like we might be here for a bit longer before we conclude it. It may not even be today.
What is the need to rush this legislation through as quickly as the government is trying to? I have heard rumours that this is a result of the Northcote by-election, that the Labor Party has got signs and trucks and so forth ready to go saying that this bill has passed, which it can circulate through Northcote on Saturday to try and win that seat. I would hate to think that that was actually the case and that that is the reason that this is being rushed through the Parliament. There are also rumours that we are going to sit all night to try and get it through. I think that is a veiled attempt — we are all quite tired at night-time — to sit through the night and get to a point where we rush this through for the sake of getting a result before Saturday's by-election. I would hope that that is not the case. It would be disgraceful if that were the case.
This is something that is in relation to lives that actually matter here in Victoria. This piece of legislation, if it becomes law, will not actually start until 2019. So why is it so necessary to rush through this piece of legislation that the Premier told us was perfect? There were some 150 amendments put to the Legislative Assembly to try and make the piece of legislation a little bit better, but no, the Premier said it does not need to be made better. The Premier said this piece of legislation right here is what we should go forward with because it is what will deliver the best possible outcome in relation to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill that Victoria needs.
What has happened since then is it has come up to this chamber and the first thing that Mr Jennings did — I respect Mr Jennings a lot; he is a smart fellow, and when he speaks I think he speaks a lot of sense, and I do listen — was bring in four-and-a-half pages worth of amendments and then wanted to start debating those just about straightaway. He did give us the luxury of being able to have a briefing from the department, and I thank him for that and I thank the advisers who are over in the corner of the chamber who provided that to those of us who took up that opportunity. That was handy in understanding what those amendments would actually mean in terms of the bill, because it is quite complicated.
Since then, we have also got a new set of amendments from Mr Jennings on top of the ones that we had on Tuesday. So, okay, we need to get an understanding of what those amendments would be. Mr Ramsay had his amendments, and then there is another set of amendments that have come out as a result of the government's amendments, I think, that are going to be substituted. I actually want to get my head around that, as to which ones we are going to end up with. Do I throw out the first lot of amendments? I just want to find out a bit more about what that really means. I think Mr Morris foreshadowed that he has some amendments as well. I have not seen those. So I would like to understand what those ones would mean.
I am happy to spend the time and debate this in a proper fashion, but I want to do it under the guise of actually all of us understanding completely what we are going on about. I would like to get some opinions and some views from some independent people who have expertise in this area. As I said in my contribution on Tuesday, there are always unintended consequences. We have just heard from Mr Ramsay the difference between a full stop and a semicolon behind one word — the difference that that might be mean in terms of the legalities. So I do not think it is too much that we just take stock here so everyone can catch up and get on the same page. Then we can debate this bill with a full understanding of exactly what we are dealing with in front of us.