Media Release 17 September 2020
Token amendments proposed by Mike Gaffney MLC to his Voluntary Assisted Suicide bill reinforce the need for a proper inquiry into the legislation, spokesperson for Live and Die Well, Ben Smith, said today.
Late on Monday evening, Mr Gaffney circulated a cursory statement and some token amendments in response to the four pages of Tasmanian Government Departmental Feedback provided to him on September 3.
The four page analysis of the Bill was undertaken at the Premier’s request by the Department of Premier and Cabinet in conjunction with other Government departments. Some of the serious issues highlighted in the analysis that have not been adequately addressed by Mr Gaffney include:
– Potentially “serious risks” to patients and medical professionals;
– The unbudgeted cost of funding the implementation and administration of the bill;
– Serious concerns about how “decision making capacity” is determined for people with a disability and the potential for incorrect diagnosis;
– The relationship of the bill to the Poisons Act and the Criminal Code.
Mr Gaffney did confirm in his statement that: “A determination by a person that a person is eligible to access voluntary assisted dying is to be a subjective determination by the person that the person is eligible.”
“Mr Gaffney’s response to the Departmental feedback did not adequately deal with the substantive issues raised by the Government”, Mr Smith said.
“Mr Gaffney has drafted some token amendments to deal with minor issues but not the substantive issues raised by the Government.
“Mr Gaffney has not addressed the “serious risks” to patients and medical professionals and has not made any significant changes to strengthen the determination of “decision making capacity” and reduce the risk of incorrect diagnosis.
“Mr Gaffney’s confirmation that eligibility for access to physician assisted suicide will be based on a subjective determination by the patient is extremely concerning.
“Mr Gaffney is continuing his efforts to rush this bill through the Legislative Council despite the serious concerns expressed by Government Departments.
“Clearly, a full and proper inquiry into the bill is required involving both legal and medical experts”, Mr Smith concluded.
For further information: Ben Smith 0410 691 371