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Transcript of doorstop with deputy opposition leader and shadow treasurer, Gareth Evans



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,,< 1 ,1 , Media Release Hon Gareth Evans QC MR Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP WITH DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER AND SHADOW TREASURER, GARETH EVANS TUESDAY 10 DECEMBER 1996, CANBERRA

JOURNALIST: Are you disappointed the Andrews Bill got through last night?

EVANS: Yes, I am, very much so. I think a lot of people were there with there sort of wet fingers in the air, trying to sense the community mood which I'm not sure they all personally shared. I think it's very disappointing that the [Northern Territory] Bill went down. It was about protecting an individual's right to die in dignity - the most

fundamental human right of all. I think the Northern Territory legislation had plenty of safeguards to ensure that the process would not be abused. It's happening anyway in the community; it's much better to recognise it, formalise it, legalise it.

JOURNALIST: What effect will this vote last night have on States rights?

EVANS: States rights is not really an issue, I think. It was an excuse for some people, but it wasn't going to the heart of the matter which was about the legitimate right of individuals to determine the way in which they die, in situations of acute personal distress.

JOURNALIST: So this doesn't set any sort of precedent?

EVANS: Not in the States rights sense, no, I don't think so.

JOURNALIST: Mr Andrews says that the overwhelming vote last night demonstrates overwhelming community opposition to euthanasia - would you say the MPs represented the views of the community yesterday?

EVANS: No, that's my point. All the available evidence from opinion polls suggest that the community is very supportive of voluntary euthanasia, and I think the MPs have simply got this one wrong. But that's something for Members of Parliament consciences.

JOURNALIST: Will you be lobbying your former colleagues in the Senate to reject the Bill?

EVANS: I'm not going to play an active role in it, but I certainly hope that a little bit of sanity will prevail. But in the Senate that's always a false basis for optimism.

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JOURNALIST: Mr Evans, are you concerned about foreign investors actually shying away from Australia as revealed in the latest poll?

EVANS: I am extremely concerned about the Far East Economic Review poll that's reported today, in which in most Asian countries there's a majority of business respondents to a survey saying that Australia is a less attractive place in which to invest as a result of the way in which the race debate has exploded. I believe it's not a matter of just blaming Pauline Hanson for that, although she has a responsibility. It's been a

failure of political leadership by the Prime Minister. This debate only really got started, if you cast your mind back, when the Prime Minister came out urging people really to let it all hang out, saying that free speech had been inhibited in the past. That let loose a genie from the bottle which has not yet been put back and it won't be put back, if it ever can be, until the Prime Minister takes a much stronger and more determined stand on this issue. The proof is there - has been for weeks now anecdotally, now it's there

statistically - that this has done Australia desperate damage around Australia. It's one of the unhappiest developments I can think of for a very long time.

JOURNALIST: And finally, any comments on the unemployed Bartels?

EVANS: No.

Ends

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