Riverina political heads have encouraged terminally ill residents not to lose hope after a “disappointing” setback in the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying.
After a debate that ran all of Thursday and ended just shy of midnight, the bill failed to pass the New South Wales' Upper House by a single vote.
MPs were given a conscience vote on the legislation which would allow terminally ill patients over the age of 25 to end their own lives with the help of doctors.
Labor’s Tim Kurylowicz told The Daily Advertiser it was disappointing that parliament was “lagging behind” and hadn’t caught up with public opinion, with 19 voting in support and 20 against.
“It is good to see parliamentarians voting to their consciousness but I do think it’s inevitable that as a society we allow people to have control of when their life ends,” he said.
“Giving people the power over their own destiny is really important.”
Mr Kurylowicz said voluntary assisted dying was successfully practiced in several countries.
“It’s safe and it’s not being abused – it is possible for us to get this right,” he said.
“It’s important for people to stick to the facts in terms of the political debate.
“People should be passionate, concerned and thoughtful but don’t be afraid.”
Nationals NSW MP Wes Fang said he was furious that members of the labor members had been “held ransom” by the conservative elements of their party.
“They didn’t vote with their conscious and allowed minority self interest groups to hijack the debate,” he said.
“It is disappointing because it didn’t affect them, it only affects the terminally ill who are seeking a means of relieving pain and suffering.
“They should have the right to die with dignity.”
Mr Fang said despite the disappointing result he was proud to have represented the people, with five out of six Nationals members voting in support.
“With 80 to 85 per cent of the population in polling shown to support the policy, that is consistent with how we chose to vote.
“I am sorry, we tried our best but it will come back.”
Mr Fang said the bill was significantly more restrictive than the proposed Victorian bill, with safeguards to protect the vulnerable and the elderly.
“It wasn’t a slap dash bill, it was very appropriate which is why it’s so disappointing,” he said.
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