The Archdiocese of Brisbane has cautiously welcomed an announcement by the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszsczuk, delaying a decision on VAD legislation in this term of Parliament.
Instead of a debate and vote on the legislation being held prior to the October 2020 election the proposed draft will now be referred to the Law Reform Commission to report back to the Attorney General by March 1, 2021.
Archbishop Coleridge said the Premier’s decision was wise, although not unexpected, especially in light of the statewide efforts to save lives throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was always a dark irony that you would even contemplate legislating VAD when the COVID-19 crisis is casting the shadow of death across the planet – particularly to the most vulnerable,” he said.
“Thankfully the Premier has put a temporary halt to legislation.
“The Parliamentary Health committee’s report tabled in late March also found that the provision of palliative care to Queenslanders was severely lacking. This is where the focus should now be. The State needs to consider health reform to address a health issue before it considers law reform to address a health issue.
“If the MPs considered the Health Committee report more deeply they would understand the types of care which can be offered by our medical system, already doing such a great job in this pandemic.
“A ‘care first’ approach is always going to be the better response to the statewide lack of access to palliative care revealed by the Parliamentary Health Committee Final Report, tabled back in March.
“With the advancements in health over the last 20 years there is a strong likelihood that a properly funded holistic Palliative Care system would soon make calls for VAD legislation redundant,” he said.
The Archdiocese will continue to keep a close eye on events for the remainder of this term and into the next parliament, as proponents of euthanasia and assisted suicide will ensure it remains a contested issue both before and well beyond the State election.