Voluntary euthanasia (14.04.2015)

Written on the 5 May 2015

15 April 2015

GEORGIE CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan)


I will be brief in my contribution to the debate on this motion.

As has been pointed out, this motion requests that the Attorney-General refer a matter to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

We have heard impassioned debate about the controversial issue of euthanasia from a number of members, but as Mr Drum articulated clearly, this motion is for a referral.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission is an independent statutory body. People will have various views about the law reform commission, but I have done research on the commission. The commission's website states that if a reference comes before it, the process involves the following stages:

1)     A problem with the current law is identified.

2)     The commission receives a reference from the Attorney-General, or begins a community law reform project.

3)     Commission staff undertake initial research and consultation.

4)     A committee of experts might be formed to offer advice to the commission and guide their recommendations.

5)     A paper will be published that outlines the issues involved and invites submissions.

6)     Submissions are considered by researchers.

7)     We hold consultations with those affected by the law, workers in the area, experts in the field and other organisations.

8)     We publish a final report that outlines our research and makes recommendations for changes to the law.

Those points are very important because that process does not force the law to change at that point in time. As Mr Drum highlighted, surely with an issue as serious as euthanasia we need to receive as much information as possible before we can debate the issue any further in the house.

Philip Cummins, the chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission, is an exceptionally accredited individual for whom I have high regard. He has a deep understanding of legal matters. He has been a judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He has served in the Court of Appeal and held many positions within the judiciary. Importantly he was the chair of the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry, which the coalition government commissioned. Following that extensive inquiry, a recommendation was handed down in 2012 for the establishment of the inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations, which I chaired. He comes with some fairly high credentials. Another commissioner I have a huge amount of regard for is Frank Vincent, who was extraordinary in his assistance to the Parliament in relation to the inquiry I just mentioned. We have some independent, highly credentialed individuals who can assist parliamentarians in this process.

As other members have said, we have had wide representation from people asking us either to support the motion or not to support it, but we need greater information. We need to be further informed. This motion is not about the content of the euthanasia debate; it asks the Attorney-General to refer the matter to the law reform commission. That is what this motion requests, and as MPs we need more information on this issue from as many people as possible within areas of law, health, religion and palliative care. We heard from Mr Davis in relation to various elements of the Auditor-General's report on palliative care that was tabled today, and we have strong measures in place. As MPs we need as much information as possible on this issue. It is an important issue for many people, whether it is because they know someone who is suffering or whether it is because they have strong religious views.

People need to be well informed and this is a motion for a reference. I am not sure why the member did not write to the Attorney-General asking for this, but nevertheless

Ms Hartland interjected.

Ms CROZIER: She is indicating that she did two letters.

Nevertheless, we are debating this motion in the house, and the law reform commission has all the elements I have mentioned, which can only add to the debate if and when that debate comes back to the house.

As individuals we can then debate the issue armed with as much information as possible.

There are many people who have strong views on this and I completely respect their views, but this motion asks the house to call on the Attorney-General to refer the matter to the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

I do not have a problem with that and I support the motion.


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