By Maise Cunningham
Vocal euthanasia supporter Philip Nitschke has criticised Australia for being slow in introducing end-of-life laws in line with other countries, despite Victoria’s current push for change.
“While there has been this block for the last 20 years in Australia, Australia [is] now really lagging the changes we’re seeing in many other parts of the world,” Mr Nitschke said.
Late next week, Victoria may become the first state in Australia to pass laws that allow people with advanced and incurable medical conditions the right to physician-assisted suicide.
Mr Nitschke said if Victoria legalised euthanasia, it may set a precedent for the rest of the country to follow suit.
“I think what [the law] will do is… make it easier for other state parliaments to pass similar legislation,” Mr Nitschke said.
“If Victoria is first then it will make it a lot easier for other governments who have become a bit timid to take the step.”
Senior Aged Carer Trinity Stanton said the move would be important for elderly Australians and their families.
“From experience, a lot of the elderly are in pain or uncomfortable and simply don’t want to go on any longer, they no longer have anything to live for,” she said.
“Many have voiced wanting to go in peace.
“I think it’s a personal choice, within reason… [so] I think Australia should allow euthanasia.”
Mr Nitschke agreed, but labelled the proposed scheme “restrictive”.
“It’s a long way from what I would like to see, it’s – as they proudly say – the world’s most conservative law,” he said.
“It’s difficult for people to access, you’re going to have to be extremely sick – just about dead – to access it [and] it’s going to be cruel having people who are so sick having to go through the rather exhaustive process of having their accreditation established.”
Despite his reservations, Mr Nitschke said the Bill was an “evolutionary” step towards a more “humane” euthanasia law.
“Nevertheless, it seems to me that it’s an important, necessary step so that we can start then, I think, looking at ways to try and make it a little more humane,” he said.