The item below comes from the ABC's PM programme and relates to South Australian parliamentarians from 4 sides of politics preparing to introduce a euthanasia bill into their upper and lower houses of parliament.
Here is the interview and the ABC's web site for this PM broadcast:
PM with Mark Colvin
SA: MPs launch new push for voluntary euthanasia
Paula Kruger reported this story on Wednesday, September 15, 2010
MARK COLVIN: Political forces that usually compete have united in South Australia's parliament to try to legalise voluntary euthanasia.
Four MP's including a Labor member, a Green, a Liberal and an independent are publicly supporting the new push which would see two identical bills introduced in both houses of Parliament.
The MP's say there is broad public support for responsible voluntary euthanasia laws, but it is still a very sensitive issue.
The latest attempt to change the law comes just days after a television advertisement supporting voluntary euthanasia was banned on the grounds that it promoted suicide.
Paula Kruger reports.
PAULA KRUGER: Despite many attempts to legalise it in different jurisdictions around Australia, euthanasia is still unlawful.
For those who oppose it, it comes down to the basic principle of no one has the right to take the life of another.
But it appears many Australians are comfortable with balancing the right to die with the right to life, with polls showing that more than 80 per cent support voluntary euthanasia.
And that is a figure that brought four South Australian MP's together to give a collective push to the state's effort to legalise euthanasia.
Greens Leader Mark Parnell.
MARK PARNELL: We have always known that voluntary euthanasia has overwhelming support in the community but it hasn't had overwhelming support in the Parliament. What we're doing now is we are introducing on a cross-party if you like, or even a multi-party basis, a new bill into both the Lower House and that will be introduced tomorrow, and in the Upper House, which will be introduced in a fortnight. Bills to provide for dying with dignity.
PAULA KRUGER: It's not the first time the Green's leader has tried to introduced voluntary euthanasia legislation in South Australia.
Last year his bill was narrowly defeated in the Upper House. The new legislation is similar but with added safeguards.
Labor MP Steph Key will introduce one of the bills in the Upper House tomorrow.
STEPH KEY: When you have a public opinion and also a need for this as an option, I think we're all dedicated to keep campaigning.
PAULA KRUGER: Reflecting the unusual unity that comes with a conscience vote was Liberal MP Duncan McFetridge.
DUNCAN McFETRIDGE: I just hope that my colleagues who have concerns about this go back to their constituencies and ask them; what do they want them to do? Because as a representative of my electorate in Morphett, I know that over 80 per cent of my electors are behind me in supporting this motion.
PAULA KRUGER: Also standing up to support today's announcement was Geoff Brock, independent member for Frome.
GEOFF BROCK: I don't think people realise until they've been through it themselves with their own family, the trauma and the heartache and it's a very, very traumatic experience to see somebody who you know is going to die and they can't do anything about it.
PAULA KRUGER: But despite figures showing strong support for responsible voluntary euthanasia legislation, it is still proving to be a highly sensitive issue.
On Friday afternoon permission to air an ad supporting voluntary euthanasia was withdrawn after the regulatory body responsible for approving ads ruled it promoted suicide.
That has stirred a separate legal fight, this time involving Australia's freedom of speech laws.
Greg Barns is a barrister and Director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance and has also done pro-bono work for Exit International, the organisation that made and paid for the ad.
GREG BARNS: This advertisement was not about telling people how to suicide, as the commercial television stations would have us believe; it was an information ad, it was an advocacy ad and it was a political advocacy ad. And it's very important that as the High Court has said on a number of occasions, that political communication be free.
You'd certainly be able to challenge the decision if you had a charter. One of the problems in Australia is that there are no adequate protections for human rights and so people such as Exit International would be able to challenge this decision if there were a Human Rights Act or a Charter of Rights as exists in the UK or in Europe or in Canada.
PAULA KRUGER: Because Exit International can't legally challenge the ruling they may have to alter the ad if they want it to appear on Australian commercial television.
MARK COLVIN: Paula Kruger.