One final push is needed from the public to help get voluntary assisted dying (VAD) over the line in Queensland this year, says one of the state’s leading advocates.
Tanya Battel, the driving force behind the VALE – Voluntary Assisted Life Ending group, has told the Rationalist Society of Australia that Queenslanders need to make their voices heard louder than ever in support of the proposed reform
The Palaszczuk government has today introduced to parliament the bill to legalise VAD.
When the debate begins on the bill, Tanya plans to submit to parliament her change.org petition, which currently has more than 80,000 signatures calling for the government to legalise the end-of-life option.
But she says the petition will not be enough to help VAD become a reality in Queensland.
“The push has to come from the community, and the community needs to understand that, if you don’t push, it won’t happen,” said the mother of two, who has terminal metastatic cancer after a long battle with breast cancer.
“I think Queensland has dragged its heels so long that people are saying, ‘Oh, God, when?’ As it gets closer, I would love to see a rally – a peaceful rally and march in Brisbane.”
For advocates like Tanya (pictured with Andrew Denton), the process of getting a bill before parliament has been a frustrating one marked by multiple submissions, testimonies to public hearings, political stalling and delays.
Given the progress made elsewhere in Australia, she said the timing was now right for Queensland to follow suit.
“On the back of Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and, hopefully, South Australia, Queensland couldn’t possibly find an excuse to go, ‘Well, you can’t have it because of your postcode’,” she said.
“It’s about timing. My kids have said to me, ‘Our generation will look back and say, ‘What the hell were they thinking not having that.’ It’s time. And why should we die a different death because of a postcode?”
Tanya was among the campaigners who helped to put VAD on the radar at last year’s state election and expose the unwillingness of many candidates and incumbents to declare an in-principle position on the issue.
Many MPs, especially those in the Liberal-National Party, have been waiting to see the bill before outlining their position – a chance they will now have.
“With Labor politicians, the majority came out and indicated their position – not all of them, but the bulk. The LNP have maintained a blanket gag. So we have to try to get the message to those within the LNP to use their conscience and listen to their communities,” said Tanya.
Hear from Mike Gaffney MLC about his journey of seeing voluntary assisted dying legalised in Tasmania when he presents at the next RSA Webinar on Wednesday 26 May 2021. To attend, register here.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman