Retiree Frank Senica, 82, chats to Chair of the Health Committee and Member for Thuringowa, Aaron Harper MP at GECC following the Gladstone public hearing for the inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care, and voluntary assisted dying.
Retiree Frank Senica, 82, chats to Chair of the Health Committee and Member for Thuringowa, Aaron Harper MP at GECC following the Gladstone public hearing for the inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care, and voluntary assisted dying.

Gladstone speaks up on life-or-death topic

GLADSTONE had its chance on Wednesday to speak up on the ongoing inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying at a public hearing.

The three-hour session was headed by Labor MP for Thuringowa Aaron Harper chair of the six-person committee who have been conducting public hearings since late March.

He was joined by fellow committee members, Maiwar MP Michael Berkman (Greens) and Lytton MP Joan Pease (Labor).

The session, held at GECC, was the last regional public hearing before the committee produces a report on March 31.

About 50 attendees heard from guest speakers including representatives from Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, the Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN (Primary Health Networks), affected members of the community and pro-life advocates.

Mr Harper said the committee wanted to make sure all regional areas had the opportunity to have a say on the issues before the public hearing process wrapped up this week. He also revealed the reporting process would be split.

"We think VAD should have the light shone on it given it's historical," Mr Harper said.

"It should stand alone to demonstrate its importance. That's not for a moment taking away from aged care and palliative care, but they will be tabled (to parliament) separately.

"The report itself will cover all three but the idea is to table them separately."

Mr Harper, a former paramedic, said the majority of more than 5000 public submissions were in relation to voluntary assisted dying. He said the next step was collating information gathered during the inquiry.

"Over the next couple of months we'll formulate the reports, put them together and then make a decision on which one to table in which (parliamentary) sitting week," he said.

"Five thousand submissions makes for difficult reading and there's a significant weighting around the voluntary assisted dying issue as opposed to aged care and palliative care."

Mr Harper believed Queensland's inquiry was more thorough than Victoria, who in November 2017 became the first Australian state to pass legislation allowing assisted dying.

"This issue is above politics. This is about people at its very core," he said.

"I keep hearing from people at these hearings that they just want choice. People don't want to see other people suffer and we need to be mindful of that going forward. Choice and control is a theme I've picked up many times."