Campaigners want urgent reform on Queensland’s euthanasia laws. Picture: supplied
Campaigners want urgent reform on Queensland’s euthanasia laws. Picture: supplied

Push to change euthanasia laws

THE State Government will come under renewed pressure to change euthanasia laws as assisted dying campaigners converge on Parliament House demanding urgent legislative reform.

Every sitting Queensland MP has received an invitation to attend the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Life Choices Forum where Queenslanders will talk of their personal experiences with dying loves ones.

Liz Whitton, whose husband Glen died in 2010 after a long battle with melanoma which cost him the removal of both eyes before the cancer moved to his liver, said Queensland had to take a step forward.

Ms Whitton said it was heartbreaking to watch her husband forced to endure a lengthy period of pain before he died, and she believed Glen's suffering was ultimately meaningless.

"When we know that death is near, when we know it is merely a matter of days or perhaps weeks before the end, we should be able to help our loved ones and ourselves die with dignity, surrounded by those who love them," she said.

End of life reform has special significance in Queensland because of backing from legendary Brisbane mayor Clem Jones.

The former mayor left a multi-million dollar estate but specifically requested a large portion be earmarked to support euthanasia, with the bequest still funding groups such as Dying with Dignity, which push for law reform.

Clem Jones Trust chairman David Muir said the Queensland Parliament, unlike other jurisdictions, had not debated this critical issue and now was the time to respond to public concerns.

"This is not a party-political issue, it is not a Government-versus-Opposition issue - it's a matter of widespread community concern requiring the deepest consideration,'' Mr Muir said.

"The starting point must be a public inquiry by Parliament to canvas all views and expert evidence.

"We've seen recent law reforms in Victoria and an inquiry is underway through the WA Parliament - why not Queensland?''

The ruling Queensland Labor Government backed a motion supporting the introduction of euthanasia reform laws in its Townsville conference last year.

But it has given no indication it will move to mirror Victorian laws passed in late 2017, which will allow over 18s suffering from incurable illness to request euthanasia.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has indicated a willingness to consider a parliamentary inquiry into the matter to assess Queenslanders' views on the issue.