After Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, Queensland’s approach is broader. But the practice, also referred to as voluntary assisted dying, will still be restricted to adults with an advanced and progressive condition causing intolerable suffering.
They will be required to have decision-making capacity, receive two assessments by separate doctors and make three separate requests over a period of nine days.
Underpinned by extensive work by the state law reform commission, it will extend the eligibility to those with 12 months, from the six-month window in other states. Doctors will also be able to raise the issues with patients.
While individual health practitioners have been able to object under other state schemes, privately run faith-based institutions are also singled out in Queensland’s law: they will also be able to refuse to take part but must not hinder a person’s access to it through external health workers or a transfer.
Even still, supporters would like to see it go further. Perron believes there should be no need for a prognosis for the time of death, only a diagnosis of terminal illness.
“I do not think that 10 years ago Queensland was ready for these laws,” she said during her contribution to two days of personal and emotional speeches during debate on the bill this week ahead of a rare major party conscience vote.
Some in the state were still not ready, others likely never will be.
The LNP Opposition’s deputy leader and shadow attorney-general David Janetzki, who did not support the bill, introduced 54 amendments including allowing faith-based facilities to ban euthanasia on their premises, which failed.
The Katter’s Australian Party – whose three MPs voted against the bill – attempted to delay debate until palliative care funding was boosted. That motion was defeated 53 votes to 37.
Given the backing of the Premier and many senior government members, along with the successful campaign to decriminalise abortion in 2017, supporters were hopeful but still unsure of what would transpire when voting began.
That the bill which ultimately sailed through the 93-seat Parliament intact, with a vast majority (61 votes to 30) and on its first introduction (where other jurisdictions have had debates, or failed attempts, in the past) was welcomed by supporters is an understatement.
Catholic Health Australia, which represents groups providing one in five hospital and aged care beds in the state, said the bill placed the sites in an “invidious and extraordinary position”.
Pro-life group Cherish Life said MPs who supported the bill had “abdicated their responsibility to protect the most vulnerable”.
Two prominent end-of-life researchers – QUT professors Ben White and Lindy Willmott – whose work informed all other state’s euthanasia laws, said Mr Janetzki’s amendments would have made the already balanced law “unwieldy, incoherent and unworkable”.
Despite the lengthy campaign, the end result still produced some surprise results for Muir, particularly in the Gold Coast region.
A more than anticipated six of the 10 LNP members who supported the bill hold electorates in the area, in which LNP leader David Crisafulli – who voted against it – is also based.
Muir says the “very influential” self-funded retiree base in the area, many of which are LNP voters, had told him of their desire for the laws to pass. He also believes the Labor campaign in some other LNP-heartland seats changing hands at the October election could have come down to voters seeking the scheme.
Outside Queensland, NSW Parliament could again see debate on the issue as soon as next month under a bill being prepared by independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich.
Despite longstanding opposition to voluntary euthanasia, there are even signs of a shift from elements of the state’s Australian Medical Association branch. But both Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Labor leader Chris Minns personally oppose the laws.
While Berejiklian’s preference is to focus on the state’s gripping COVID-19 challenge, Muir said there was precedent for her to “step up” and back the reform as part of her legacy. This came from Liberal premiers in Tasmania and South Australia lending their support to non-government bills.
Beyond that, attention is also turning to the ACT and NT. There, the political will exists but is blocked by a bill introduced by outgoing federal MP Kevin Andrews to overturn the same year as the latter’s early attempt.
Despite little appetite from the federal government for the necessary repeal or drafting of fresh legislation, Perron is hopefully the tide is turning.
“Competitive federalism is working, and that’s exactly what it is,” he says. “States learning from each other and trying to be the best.”
The Morning Edition newsletter is your guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.