Nitschke addresses Qld euthanasia probe

Supporters and opponents of voluntary assisted dying have made their cases to a committee.
Supporters and opponents of voluntary assisted dying have made their cases to a committee.

If voluntary euthanasia is adopted in Queensland it should be seen as a right, rather than a privilege of the sick, says a leading campaigner.

Exit International euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke on Friday addressed a parliamentary committee into aged care, palliative care and voluntary assisted dying in Brisbane.

He said any introduced laws should make voluntary euthanasia more of a right, rather than what he described as "medicalised laws" which make assisted death a "privilege of the very sick".

Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, who has expressed his deep regret about not acting to legalise voluntary euthanasia, also appeared at the committee in support of assisted dying.

It comes after Victoria's terminally ill are now legally able to ask their doctor for lethal drugs since Australia's only euthanasia laws came into effect in June.

Supporters and opponents of voluntary assisted dying are making their cases to a parliamentary committee.

Opponents included some of the state's top religious leaders including Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who called for better palliative care.

Archbishop Coleridge said he there was concern about the ethical principles that would inform the committee's moral judgments about assisted dying.

He also referred to comments by writer Blanche d'Alpuget about the intimacy of caring for someone in a debilitated state after the recent death of her husband, former prime minister Bob Hawke.

"Hers is one of many stories of the intimacy and meaning that can be born of suffering," Archbishop Coleridge said.

The committee has also heard palliative care outside of large Queensland cities was virtually non-existent.

Australian Associated Press