Senator Paterson speaks on the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill

Senator Paterson speaks on the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill

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I am happy to admit that I had to wrestle with this
issue, because for me, it is one of competing principles. But after reflection I have nevertheless come
to a firm conclusion. I will be voting no, and I want to briefly
outline why. I am sympathetic to the principles of federalism
that underline this bill. It would be nice to simply dismiss these considerations
on the technicality that the Northern Territory and the ACT are territories, not states and are therefore not entitled to so-called “states’rights”. But if we believe in federalism as a matter
of principle, as I do, it is not that easy. I don’t believe in a federal system of government
just because that is what we agreed at federation. I believe in federalism because I believe
in decentralisation. I believe in subsidiarity – local decisions
are best made by local people. Too much policy in this nation is dictated
in Canberra and imposed around the nation with variable results. And it’s not states that have rights, but
people. People should enjoy no fewer rights simply
because of where they live in Australia. Even though residents of the territories have not yet taken up the options available to them to become a state. But this isn’t only a bill about federalism. It is also a bill about euthanasia, and the
principle of the individual dignity of every human life. I can’t wipe my conscience clean of the
ultimate impact of the vote I will cast on this bill and on this principle. The actions we will all take on this bill will have consequences that we all must be prepared to accept. I do understand why many Australians want
to have the option of doctor assisted suicide at the end of their life. A painful death is a fear widely shared, and
not one I blame people for wanting to avoid if possible If there were some way of guaranteeing that
only those who really wanted and really needed that option were able to access it, perhaps I would
adopt a different view. Because we are all flawed human beings, I
recognise the profound limitations we have as legislators. Despite our best intentions, there are aspects
of human behaviour we can never perfectly regulate no matter how hard we try. The consequences of getting regulation wrong
in most areas of public life are irritation and inefficiency But when it comes to regulating life and death
they are as profound as they can be. I am yet to see a system for regulating euthanasia
anywhere in the world including in my home state of Victoria that gives me confidence that no person will ever be put to death wrongfully. For me, even one wrongful death is one too
many. In years to come I suspect Victorians will
regret the decision our parliament reached late last year I believe it is inevitable that there will be misdiagnoses, that some people will feel pressure – real or imagined and that if we start to normalise
state sanctioned taking of life that the criteria will inevitably
widen as it has overseas. I’m worried that the participation and tacit
endorsement of the state and the medical profession in this process will compromise both. Resolving contests of deeply held principles
are always the most difficult decisions to make Federalism and protecting the individual dignity
of human life are both dear to my heart. If forced to choose, I have to pick the most
fundamental. If, in the future, people are wrongfully killed under a euthanasia regime that is in effect permitted by our votes here today I doubt that the principles of federalism will provide much comfort for our consciences That’s why I will be voting no.

2 thoughts on “Senator Paterson speaks on the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill

  • Margarita Stein Post author

    thank you. this is just common sense.

  • Chris Griffiths Post author

    Senator Paterson, If you believe in Absolute Local Decisions then you Must Explain Regional Immigration, Regional Market Failure, Regional Services and Most Importantly for this Speech Regional Health Services. Who could forget Dolly the NT Teenager and How She Lost Her Way.

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