47. Hon NICK GOIRAN to the parliamentary secretary
representing the Minister for Health:
I refer to the minister's
ministerial statement delivered on 12 February 2019 in which he asserts that
there is now ''ample evidence'' that it is possible to provide
for safe assisted suicide legislation, which he states exists in 14 jurisdictions
around the world.
(1) Is the
minister aware that the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices did not
inquire into any of the wrongful deaths that have occurred in those
(2) Will he table the ample evidence
that he is referring to?
I thank the honourable member for
some notice of the question. I am advised of the following.
(1) The Joint
Select Committee on End of Life Choices was made up of cross-party membership
and undertook an inquiry over 12 months. In the report, ''My Life, My
Choice'', the committee considered and reported on the international
experience. I draw the honourable member's attention to finding 42 —
Having weighed the evidence, the
committee concurs with findings by similar parliamentary inquiries in Victoria
and Canada that risks can be guarded against and vulnerable people can be
The Minister for Health has appointed
an expert panel to provide government with advice in relation to the introduction
of a voluntary assisted dying bill with safe and robust oversight mechanisms.
(2) There is
ample evidence, from a number of jurisdictions, including over 20 years of data
from Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority's public health division has
been publishing annual data on the Oregon Death with Dignity Act since 1997.
The Oregon Health Authority is required by the act to develop and maintain a reporting
system for monitoring and collecting information on participation in the DWD
act. The authority uses a system involving physician and pharmacist compliance
reports, death certificate reviews and follow-up questionnaires from physicians
to review compliance with the act. An annual data summary is publicly available
through the Oregon Health Authority's public health division.
The Netherlands euthanasia act came
into effect in 2002. Under the act, the Netherlands euthanasia commission has
published annual reports of deaths that have occurred since 2003. The
Netherlands government has also established regional euthanasia review
committees. The committees' annual report shows figures relating to
assisted dying notifications received in the year in question and outlines how
the committees review the actions of physicians who have notified them of cases
of assisted dying. The annual report is publicly available.
Voluntary assisted dying legislation
will come into effect in Victoria on 19 June this year. Victoria has
established the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board to ensure the safe
operation of VAD in that state. The board's powers include monitoring
matters related to VAD, reviewing any function or power under the act,
collecting data and reporting to Parliament on the operation of the act,
recommending any improvements, promoting compliance with the act and promoting
continuous improvement in quality and safety. The board has the power to refer
matters to the appropriate agencies such as the Australian Health Practitioner
Regulation Agency, the police and the coroner.