Last year, the Queensland Parliament voted to authorise its Health Committee to hold public hearings throughout Queensland to assess public attitudes to Voluntary Assisted Dying and Palliative Care. They did an extraordinary job of holding hearings far and wide across the State and encouraging all opinions to be expressed.
I spoke at one of the hearings and it was evident that there was huge support for Queenslanders to have the right to choose to end their lives peacefully and in comfort when faced with an incurable illness. It was also clear that people felt that palliative care services were not adequate and were not an alternate to Voluntary Assisted Dying as many people will choose both. People who attended other hearings gained the same impression as I did.
At the same time as the public hearings were being held, The Clem Jones Foundation conducted a professional survey of community attitudes on the matter and found that at least three out of every four Queenslanders believed that they should have the right to elect to end their lives via Voluntary Assisted Dying.
So, we now await the report of the Health Committee which is due to present it to Parliament no later than 31 March this year. I have no inside information on the matter but my gut feeling is that the Committee will recommend that Legislation to legalise Voluntary Assisted Dying be placed before the Parliament for a conscience vote as soon as possible.
The key issue is whether or not the Premier will decide to hold the vote before or after the election which is due in October, 2020. If she delays the vote it will become a huge election issue with every candidate being forced to state their position on it.
In my role as Campaign Leader of Dying With Dignity Queensland, I am pushing hard for an immediate vote and I have no doubt that it will passed by the Parliament.
To press the case for a vote before the election, Dying With Dignity is holding a Rally on THURSDAY, 19 MARCH AT 1.00PM AT SPEAKERS CORNER, which is in George Street just over the road from Parliament. We have a police permit and have invited every member of Parliament to attend. Some have already accepted our invitation.
This event is not a protest gathering and will neither march nor block the traffic nor abuse MP's. We are simply asking the Parliament to vote urgently to authorise Voluntary Assisted Dying in Queensland for those who so choose, similarly to the right that Victorians and Western Australians now have.
I am one of the speakers and my task is to state why, as a Church Elder, I am publicly supporting Voluntary Assisted Dying when the Churches of Queensland have joined together to make a submission to the Inquiry opposing it.
The key factor is that they believe that God decides who lives or dies. I have never ever believed that. God gives you and me the spiritual power to handle whatever life and death throw up at us. With death being an inevitable and unavoidable part of life, why let many people suffer agony to get there.
I will be a definite candidate for Voluntary Assisted Dying if ever I face a terminal illness and I have advised my family in writing that this is my wish.
Indeed, if I become geriatric and am to be committed to a nursing home I will find a way to end my life. I have had a wonderful life and I am not going to end it as a vegetable. And I am not going to waste money on pointlessly and selfishly staying alive when I want my grandkids to have as much of my estate as possible.
Churches, by opposing Voluntary Assisted Dying, are actually encouraging suicide and this is utterly irresponsible. There is clear and irrefutable evidence that people crash their cars in single car accidents because they want out and the laws of the land are denying them the basic democratic right to determine how they will live and die.
So, please come along to Speakers Corner on Thursday, 19 March at 1.00pm and help to convince Parliament that VAD legislation must pass the Parliament before the Election.
There are many Twitter and Facebook friends whom I have not ever met so I hope you will come along and say hello. And if you have any doubts about either the morals or ethics or legality of VAD, lets have a respectful chat about it.
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