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Thursday, 1 December 2022
Page: 2783


Senator RICE (Victoria) (19:16): I wish to speak against this amendment. The core of this debate that we are having is about restoring territory rights so the territories' can make decisions for themselves. This amendment by Senator Nampijinpa Price would interfere with that. It would mean that a lot of those rights actually wouldn't be restored. Fundamentally, our debate needs to be about the rights of the territories to decide for themselves.

I'm a Victorian and I now live in a state where we have voluntary assisted dying. I haven't spoken in this debate before, and I will put on the record that I am a supporter of voluntary assisted dying. I think the way that it has been managed in Victoria has been exemplary.

But in one way we're talking about voluntary assisted dying, and that's not what we should be talking about here. We should be talking about the rights of the territories to be making decisions for themselves. The fact that the territories have different rights to the states is an anachronism. It's a random facet of our colonial past such that, as a Victorian, I have the opportunity to be part of that decision-making process to elect my members of parliament who made that decision, but people who live in the territories don't. And it's just not appropriate.

This bill that we are debating tonight is going to go some way to restoring that, to say that on this very sensitive issue—on the issue as to whether people have the right to choose to end their lives in a way that they desire, that is peaceful, and how they want to end their lives. They should have the right to do that in the ACT and the Northern Territory just as I now do have as a Victorian.

I don't want to speak for much longer—I do want to get home tonight—but I really felt that it was worthwhile just putting that on the record. I also want to acknowledge the people who are in the gallery: the Chief Minister of the ACT Andrew Barr, Marshall Perron, Andrew Denton and the people that have been following this debate for a long time. The fact that we've got such a full gallery shows what a significant issue this is and shows that we need to be respecting the rights of territorians to be making these decisions for themselves.