Euthnasia Politics in the Australian State and Territorial Parliaments
The issue of voluntary euthanasia has a turbulent history in the state and territorial parliaments. Since the passage of the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 in the Federal Parliament, which overturned the Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, successive attempts to reform the law in the states have been unsuccessful. Those who support the practice argue that this is remarkable and moreover unacceptable, pointing to opinion poll data that report a consistently high level support...[Show more]
|The issue of voluntary euthanasia has a turbulent history in the state and territorial parliaments. Since the passage of the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 in the Federal Parliament, which overturned the Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, successive attempts to reform the law in the states have been unsuccessful. Those who support the practice argue that this is remarkable and moreover unacceptable, pointing to opinion poll data that report a consistently high level support amongst the Australian public for legalisation. Consequently, the puzzle posed that this thesis seeks to answer is, why has subsequent law reform on voluntary euthanasia not taken place in Australia, despite widespread support from the public and considerable support from the medical profession? As such, the thesis will compare, describe and explain the fate of bills that sought to legalise voluntary euthanasia in four Australian state and territorial legislatures: the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly; the ACT Legislative Assembly; the South Australian Parliament; and the Tasmanian Parliament. A legislative history of the issue is presented for each legislature, including an analysis of the conscience votes and debates on the bills in parliament, plus an analysis of interview material. The thesis takes a comparative case study approach, which reveals that, although a number of factors that allowed the successful passage of the Northern Territory Bill have been present in the states, two key differences exist. First, there has been very little support for reform amongst state Liberal MPs, who have almost unanimously opposed legalisation during the free votes. In combination with the votes of Liberal MPs, opposition from the right-faction of the ALP, consisting of several MPs with strong religious values, has sealed the fate of bills. Second, since the ROTTI Act was overturned, legislators have increasingly referred to opposition within the medical profession as a reason for opposing bills. In addition to the investigation of the fate of bills, the research allows an examination of four political processes of broader interest in Australian politics: the Private Members' Bills process; parliamentary 'free' or 'conscience' voting; lobbying parliament; and spontaneous political group formation. The literatures on these processes are reviewed and several insights are developed. Interview material with sponsors of euthanasia bills reveals the varying degrees of difficulty which MPs in each parliament encountered with the Private Members' Bills process. For example, as a cross-bench member, one Independent MLA had a special category of business created for him to pursue his legislative programme, whilst another MP had to fight simply to get access to bill drafting services. In relation to parliamentary lobbying, interview material with the organiser of 'Operation TIAP', a group who campaigned in favour of the Northern Territory Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill, provides additional explanation of the successful passage of the Bill. Specifically, that the spontaneous element of their campaign combined with the strategy of reminding MLAs of their commitment to represent the views of their electorate, was key to generating support for the Northern Territory Bill.
|x11, 215 leaves
|Euthnasia Politics in the Australian State and Territorial Parliaments
|Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
|School of Politics and International Relations
|Open Access Theses
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