NSW voters ready for right to die laws to change: poll
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under increasing pressure to follow other states in introducing voluntary assisted dying laws with a new poll showing more than 70 per cent of NSW voters supported such a move.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich is working with Coalition, Opposition and crossbench MPs on introducing a bill next year that would legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill.
The bill will be modelled on WA legislation but also be informed by the findings of the Queensland Law Reform Commission, which is working on a legal framework ahead of the introduction of the State's own assisted dying laws. Other states to have legalised assisted dying include Victoria,
The Berejiklian government has to date indicated it would decide on whether the NSW cabinet would decide if it supported the bill, or would allow coalition MPs a conscience vote once it sees the draft legislation.
To gauge public support in NSW, a poll of 1038 people was undertaken by the Australia Institute, asking if they about their position on whether voluntary assisted dying should be available to people with terminal illnesses who are experiencing "unrelieveable suffering" and who ask to die.
The poll found 72 per cent of residents believed voluntary assisted dying should be legal with slightly more males in favour - 75 per cent - than females - 70 per cent.
Older voters were more likely to support the legalisation than younger respondents, with 76 per cent of those aged 65 years or over being in favour compared with 69 per cent of residents aged 18 to 34 years.
Across party lines, more Coalition voters than Labor believed the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying should occur with 74 per cent compared with 71 per cent, with the Greens at 77 per cent being the most supportive.
Mr Greenwich, who was the architect of a historic bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW, said the WA legislation allowed people in the last six months of a terminal illness whose pain was unlikely to be able to be relieved to die with dignity.
He said the objective was to give people some control.
"People support this reform because they think it's compassionate," Mr Greenwich said.
"My bill will be modelled on the WA bill, but will be informed by the law reform process under way in Queensland."
Mr Greenwich said he expected the legislation to take six months to draft. It will be the third attempt for assisted dying bill laws to be adopted in NSW in recent years, with Nationals MP Trevor Khan, whose terminally ill father asked to die, introducing a bill into parliament in 2017. The bill, worked on for two years, never progressed beyond the Upper House.
It followed a failed attempt by Greens MP Cate Faerhmann in 2013.
The Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist said while it was not an easy subject for the community, the poll showed most NSW voters believed there was a place for voluntary assisted dying.
"New South Wales voters want the right to die with dignity," he said.
Originally published as NSW voters ready for right to die laws to change: poll