Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 30 November 2017
Page: 9407


Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (17:56): Thank you to Senator McAllister for ceding some time to me in the limited period before 6 pm. I want to indicate briefly that I will not support this motion. I do not support it principally because I believe, fundamentally, that every human life is special and should be protected. In my view no-one, including any individual, should have the right to destroy life. I say that with respect to those who have put arguments opposite to mine.

I wonder, if we have future opportunities to debate this issue in this chamber, whether there can be a serious engagement or a serious response to the natural ethical viewpoints that are often put forward in defence or in opposition to euthanasia, because, frankly, comparing the ending of a life to getting a tattoo or a haircut or some other act is, in my view, a little immature. It does not seriously take into account the distinction that surely must come when we're talking about matters of human life. Likewise, these are issues Senator Hinch dismissed. He was dismissive of the views of the Australian Medical Association and dismissive of views of medical doctors who have to deal with matters of life and death on a daily basis.

I fear that we are not getting to the root of what is behind arguments in support of euthanasia. Behind those arguments, fundamentally, is a different ethical system to what many of our laws in Western society are based on. It is an ethical system based on unrestricted and rampant utilitarianism which elevates the perceived desires or happiness of an individual above all other considerations. I think it is worthy of a serious debate about whether that ethical system produces better societal results than others, including those of a natural law ethical system, which is the ethical system my particular faith—the Catholic faith—is based on. But it's not only a Catholic ethical system, or religious ethical system; it's a legitimate secular ethical approach to important and weighty questions. I don't know what the Catholic Church thinks about getting tattoos, but certainly the natural law has something to say about how special and unique life is.

I think we easily forget that—it was some time ago, but well within the memory of human civilisation—there was a common practice of infanticide, of putting young children who were not seen to be worthy members of the community to death. That's not something we'd accept today, but the ethical system that is being put forward here in arguments for euthanasia does open the door and does remove such limits from such conduct. I gravely fear what that would mean for our society which fundamentally still does, I believe, protect and cherish every human life regardless of disability or conception.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator O'Sullivan ): It now being 6 pm, the debate is interrupted.