Western Australia is one step closer to legalising euthanasia, after Mandurah MP David Templeman said a plan to establish a parliamentary inquiry into end-of-life legislation would be debated in August.
Mr Templeman, who is also the government minister responsible for which laws are debated, said the move could mean euthanasia legislation may be introduced as early as next year.
A motion to establish an inquiry into “end-of-life choices” was put on the notice paper in June by Morley MP Amber-Jade Sanderson.
It called for a committee to examine “the need for laws in Western Australia to allow citizens to make informed decisions regarding their own end-of-life choices”.
Mr Templeman said the committee, which would be made up of eight parliamentarians, would deliver its report by June 30, 2018, allowing any recommended end-of-life legislation to be debated by the year’s end.
An inquiry would allow the public to make submissions and Mr Templeman said he hoped it would also run public hearings.
“From my personal point of view, this debate is well overdue and it is important that parliament considers it through a select committee because that process will allow the public to actually have input,” he said.
“Consistently, polls and surveys have shown that over 80 per cent of West Australians believe there needs to be laws in place that address end-of-life choice, or euthanasia.”
Mr Templeman said he anticipated the public debate about euthanasia would involve strongly held views, but called on both sides to be respectful.
“The discussion has to be done in a respectful and dignified way, but it is time for this issue to be debated and I’m very keen to see the select committee get up,” he said.
“I’m very keen, from a personal perspective and as member for Mandurah, to hear people’s views when that select committee is established and to hear what people think.”
In March, Health Minister Roger Cook signalled his support for legalising euthanasia, while Greens MP Robin Chapple said he would work with Labor’s Alannah MacTiernan to introduce legislation.
Mr Templeman said his personal view was supportive of dignity in dying legislation, but he was cautious about how a law would be implemented.
“I suppose where I have caution is in what exactly that legislation looks like and the strict terms of when you actually arrive at assisted dying,” he said.
“That’s why I’m really interested in this debate taking place, because I want to hear points of view.
“Obviously, I’ve been supportive of a form of euthanasia legislation for some time and welcome my constituency telling me what they think.”
The last time WA parliament debated euthanasia legislation was in 2010 when a bill was defeated 24 votes to 11 in the upper house before it could be considered by the lower house.
The move to bring on the issue in WA comes as the Victorian parliament prepares to consider legislation after conducting its own inquiry into euthanasia.
The Victorian model was developed by a panel of experts and would mean a request to die could only come from a patient of sound mind and could only be approved by a panel of doctors.
New offences would be created to prevent abuse.
The Victorian legislation has the support of the Victorian government, but it is understood any Western Australia legislation would be introduced as a private member’s bill.
Premier Mark McGowan recently said he supported euthanasia but would prefer for MPs to exercise a conscience vote on the issue rather than toe a party line.