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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1243

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (16:55): I rise to speak in support of the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015. Dying is a very painful grieving process for families, for loved ones and for friends. I believe that people have the right to choose how they die. A lot of us do not have that choice—we may die in a road accident or through illness. But I have spoken to people who say that if they are ever in that situation they want the choice to say, 'My time has come. I do not have quality of life anymore,' so they want to leave this world.

I had that experience personally with my father, when he was in hospital. Dad was quite ill—he had Parkinson's—and as he deteriorated he went through a very hard time. They thought of looking after him with palliative care. But I thought, 'No.' As happens on many occasions they give them morphine to ease the pain, but it did not in my father's case. It actually aggravated my father more. So he was in pain—more so—from the morphine he was given. This went on for a couple of weeks, so his passing was actually a blessing.

I have heard of other people in these circumstances. I believe that everyone has the right to a choice. I know there are people out there who believe it is so wrong for you to have a right to say when your time is up. They are not tolerant of those who feel differently about it. I have spoken openly about this to my children and said that if I were ever to be in a situation where I became brain dead, or did not have quality of life, or were on machines, or were in a situation in a nursing home or a hospital or whatever, and I did not want to be here any longer, please make the choice to end my life. This is not only for myself but also for my children. My family and my loved ones should not have to go through turning up at my bedside every day, watching me go through that suffering, because it is more painful to them.

We have more compassion for animals than we do for people. If an animal is in pain or is suffering, we have it put down. That is compassion, yet we do not have that same compassion when it comes to people. I ask those people who oppose what I am saying today, have you ever watched the cachectic wasting of a dying loved one? Have you ever watched the downhill spiral of someone who is bedridden, wasting away, unable to toilet themselves, wash themselves, feed themselves or speak for themselves?

One in two men and one in three women will get cancer by 85. Just last year an estimated 46,880 people died of cancer—26,566 men and 20,314 women. Were they given the opportunity? I do not think so.

There is also another case that we have here. It is known that doctors and nurses will give morphine to ease the pain. That is palliative care, but it is illegal. They are not supposed to—not really and not to the point where they know it will eventually take a life. What we are doing is putting these nurses and these doctors at risk of facing a criminal offence. Why? My belief is that when you are of sound mind you draw up a will of your possessions, where you wish them to go and what is to happen with them. What more valuable possession do you have than your own body and your own destiny? So why not, when you are of sound mind, make up a will and give the right to someone that you trust to carry out your wishes—a loved one, a friend, a family member—to make that final decision were it to ever get to that point. And then, in conjunction with two doctors, they decide, in a compassionate way, it is time be put to sleep or death—whatever you want to call it. So why are people out there opposing my rights? That is why I think that it is the right of the territories and the people there to decide their rights. I believe it should be on the national agenda as well. Everyone should have the right.

We have other countries and states around the world where it is legal: The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Columbia, California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana. We need to look at this on compassionate grounds and give people their right. At this stage, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted.