Queensland government postpones euthanasia legislation

The Queensland State Government has postponed the introduction of controversial voluntary euthanasia legislation as it prepares for an election later this year. 

Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk announced on Thursday that the introduction of euthanasia laws would be delayed until at least March next year, with the government requesting that the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) draft a bill for the government’s consideration. 

“There are [a] number of operational issues to work through before we can implement any kind of voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland at this time”, the Premier said in a statement.  “For these reasons, I believe law reform in this area requires further careful consideration”, she said.  

In March, a parliamentary health committee handed down a report into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care, recommending that the government legalise assisted dying. 

Yet the Premier said that the “competing interests and views of Queenslanders and experts have to be carefully balanced and the lives of our elderly and most vulnerable people protected”. “high quality and accessible palliative care for persons at their end of life is a fundamental right for the Queensland community”, the Premier said. “It is critical that we get this right”.

Voluntary assisted dying advocates were critical of the government’s decision. Clem Jones Trust chair David Muir said he was "disappointed and somewhat saddened" by the move. “This law will be deferred — set back at least nine months, probably longer,” Mr Muir said.

Sources close to the Queensland government say that the Premier is concerned about introducing controversial legislation that could alienate voters in key marginal seats. In entrusting the drafting of legislation to the QLRC, the government is attempting to distance itself from the euthansia issue until after the October ballot. 

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