Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
16 Aug 2018
The push to give Australia’s territories – the ACT and the Northern Territory – the power to legalise euthanasia failed in the Senate last night by the slimmest of majorities, 36-34 votes.
The proposed law had been put to the Senate by NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm, a Liberal Democrat.
However, on Wednesday night, the Bill was denied a second reading, effectively defeating its progress through Australia’s federal parliament.
Parliamentary supporters and opponents always knew the vote was going to be close, although supporters had believed they were on-track to score a narrow win.
Although the populations of Australia’s territories are relatively small compared to its states, opponents feared passage of the Bill through the Parliament would act as a powerful aid to euthanasia’s legalisation throughout the rest of the country, especially following Victoria’s legalisation of the practice in October last year.
Soon after the vote, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP expressed his gratitude for the victory.
“Thanks be to God; the Senate has just voted 36-34 against a bill that would have paved the way for euthanasia and assisted suicide in the territories.
“That the vote was so close shows the importance of each and every voice in building a civilisation of life, love and true dignity for the dying, and the need for us to continue to pray for our political leaders.”
The Archbishop also couldn’t help but remark on the coinciding of the vote with the Solemnity of the Assumption.
“Today’s Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady today affirms our great hope; that there is more ahead of us than mental decline and physical decay.
There is a firm promise of salvation for all flesh that yearns for redemption. I know that Our Lady, assumed body and soul into heaven, was praying for this result”,” he said.
“May she continue to intercede for us.”
Over the last couple of weeks, Archbishop Fisher had urged people of faith to sign a petition run by anti-euthanasia lobby group HOPE, and to utilise their tools to write to Senators.
While the vote appeared to be likely to favour euthanasia’s supporters in the Senate, a small number of key votes changed in the final days leading up to the debate.
Senator Peter Georgiou, a One Nation senator from Western Australia, was one of two senators who changed their position in the final hours before the vote.
He told media that since meeting a group of doctors strongly opposed to euthanasia earlier in the week he had been forced to consider the problem of safeguards to prevent the practice spreading from not only the terminally ill but widening to others such as the depressed.
He suggested the Victorian legislation passed last October did not have adequate safeguards in place to prevent its effective abuse.
Meanwhile, he said, palliative care appeared to have effectively fallen off the radar.