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Restoring Territory Rights (Dying with Dignity) Bill 2016

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2013-2014-2015-2016

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

SENATE

 

 

RESTORING TERRITORY RIGHTS (DYING WITH DIGNITY)

BILL 2016

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senators Di Natale and Gallagher)

 

 

 



 

RESTORING TERRITORY RIGHTS (DYING WITH DIGNITY) BILL 2016

 

OUTLINE

 

The purpose of this Bill is to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 which amended the Acts regarding self-government in the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island. The Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 prevented the Legislative Assemblies in those territories from making laws providing for voluntary euthanasia in their respective jurisdictions. It thereby recognises the rights of citizens of these territories and their elected representatives to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of their territories.



The passage of the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 had the effect of overturning the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT). This Bill does not restore that Act, but restores the rights of the respective Legislative Assemblies to make laws regarding voluntary euthanasia should they chose to do so.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES



Clause 1: Short title

 

1.         This clause provides for the Act, when enacted, to be cited as the Restoring Territory Rights (Dying with Dignity) Act 2016 .

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

2.         This clause provides for sections 1 to 4, and anything in the Bill not elsewhere covered by the commencement table, to commence on the day the Bill receives the Royal Assent, and for the commencement of Schedule 1 to the Bill 28 days after it receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Objects

 

3.         This clause states that the objects of this Bill are:

 

                     (a)  to recognise the right of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory to legislate for voluntary euthanasia within their jurisdictions; and

                     (b)  to repeal the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 .

 

 

Clause 4 - Schedules

 

4.         Each Act specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule. Any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

 



 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

 

Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988

 

Item 1 - Subsections 23(1A) and (1B)

 

5.         This item repeals subsections 23(1A) and (1B), as inserted by the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 , which prevented the Australian Capital Territory from enacting laws with respect to voluntary euthanasia.

 

Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978

 

Item 2 - Section 50A

 

6.         This item repeals section 50A, as inserted by the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, which prevented the Northern Territory from enacting laws with respect to voluntary euthanasia and rendered the Rights of the Terminally Act 1995 (NT) inoperative.

 

Schedule 2 - Repeal of the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997

 

Item 3 - Euthanasia Laws Act 1997

 

7.         This item repeals the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997

 

Item 4 - Application

 

8.         This item ensures that the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995 (NT) remains in effect in relation to any act or thing done while it was in force before the enactment of the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 . It does not have effect in relation to any act or thing after it was rendered inoperative.

 



 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Restoring Territory Rights (Dying with Dignity) Bill 2016

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

This Bill repeals the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 and restores the rights of the Legislative Assemblies in the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island to make laws regarding voluntary euthanasia. This Bill neither creates nor limits any rights regarding end-of-life decisions.

 

Human rights implications

This Bill does not negatively impact on any human rights, as its only function is to lift a restriction on the powers of the Legislative Assemblies of the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island to make laws regarding voluntary euthanasia.

 

As the Bill does not change domestic law regarding the rights of the terminally ill nor does it make any provisions for voluntary euthanasia or assisted suicide, it does not engage any of the relevant conventions that enumerate rights regarding an individual’s ability to make decisions regarding their own time and manner of death.

 

By reducing restrictions on the assemblies of the territories to make laws governing their own affairs, the Bill enhances the democratic rights of citizens of these territories. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights contains several articles regarding the rights of any people to self-determination which may be engaged by this Bill, including Article 1 which states:

All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

 

Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights contains the same language regarding self-determination.

 

Conclusion

The Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not infringe or limit existing rights, but will enhance the rights of Territorians to make laws regarding their own affairs according to democratic processes.

 

Senator Di Natale and Gallagher