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Australian Northern Territory demands freedom to decide on assisted dying laws

Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner. Photo: AAP

The Northern Territory in Australia has launched a bid to be allowed to decide its own fate on the issue of voluntary euthanasia. Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has written to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for federal laws to be changed to allow the issue to be considered in the NT parliament.

As the Northern Territory is not a state but a Territory of Australia, it has no own legislative competence. Where Australian states as Victoria and Western Australia have created their own assisted dying laws in the last ten years, the people who live in Northern Territory are still at the mercy of the federal legislation.

Voluntary assisted dying was legalised in the Northern Territory for a short period between 1996 and 1997. Then the federal parliament overturned the territory’s laws and removed its powers to legislate on the issue. The federal laws that were introduced in 1997 banned both the present act as the NT from ruling on euthanasia in the future. From that moment on, numerous attempts have followed to overturn laws.

Mr Gunner said the Territory needed the Commonwealth to “change its mind about us” following the passing of voluntary assisted dying laws in both Victoria and WA. “It becomes to me more and more ridiculous that we can’t consider the issue here,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday. “What I’ve put to Prime Minister Morrison and opposition leader [Anthony] Albanese is to give us the right to make the decision. “You don’t know what our decision will be, I don’t know what our decision will be, it’s a conscience vote in the parliament here in the Territory.

The Federal Government is yet to respond to the campaign, but the Attorney-General said last year there were no plans to make any changes.

Source: Northern Territory demands freedom to decide on assisted dying laws | Australian Doctor Group (ausdoc.com.au)

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