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Monday, 9 September 2019
Page: 2177


Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (16:36): Last month Kerry Robertson became the first Victorian to use the state's Voluntary Assisted Dying Act. After nine years of cancer slowly spreading through her body, she died peacefully, surrounded by a family who described her death as empowered, dignified, perfect. It was the death that Kerry chose, something she had the right to do under Victorian law.

The same cannot be said here in the ACT. In Western Australia politicians this month held the longest sitting in more than 20 years, over the issue of voluntary assisted dying. In the ACT we don't have that opportunity. Our friends at the ACT Legislative Assembly have their hands tied by an outdated federal law that restricts the rights of all territorians. The so-called Andrews bill came into place in 1997, when the ACT Legislative Assembly was just in short pants. It's now 30, and the ACT Legislative Assembly is the intellectual equal of any other parliament around Australia. It should have the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying.

Earlier this year I moved a private member's bill with my colleague Luke Gosling from the Northern Territory. Luke doesn't support voluntary assisted dying. I do. But we both believe passionately in territory rights, and we are following in the footsteps of people from both sides of the parliament. It's just a shame that Senator Seselja doesn't see things the same way and stands against giving his own constituents a real voice. It's time for territorians to get proper democracy.