LNP Women has put forward a resolution to the Queensland LNP Convention this week that, if passed, would have all party MPs vote ‘no’ in the conscience vote to pass Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) legislation in Queensland.
Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Assistant State Secretary and Labor for Dignity Co-Conveyor Stuart Traill says this will result in MPs voting against the wishes of their electorate, as there is significant community support for VAD.
“80% of Queenslanders support passing VAD legislation,” says Mr Traill. “To have your party vote one way not only defeats the purpose of the conscience vote, it also means MPs will be voting against the interest of their constituents.
“This issue is not one for political games. It’s a deeply personal issue for everyone who has ever had experience with unbearable suffering and traumatic and drawn out deaths. The vote is about choice. Everyone deserves a choice at the end of their life. The legislation has many safeguards that will ensure it’s safe,” says Mr Traill.
The resolution put forward by LNP Women, suggests that MPs instead push for increased funding for palliative care. Palliative Care Australia has admitted that for 4% of patients, palliative care cannot adequately relieve their suffering. Additionally, a study cited by Go Gentle Australia found that 70% of doctors agree that palliative care cannot adequately relieve all patients’ suffering.
“It’s not a battle between VAD and palliative care,” says Mr Traill. “Some people will choose to use palliative care services, but we should all have the choice to access VAD if we are suffering unbearably at the end of life. Both options should be available to people who are at the end of their lives.”
“There’s a reason why parliament has opted for a conscience vote for this issue,” says Mr Traill. “One party enforcing a decision on all of their MPs isn’t right. It’s not right by the process, and it’s not right by the community. All Queensland MPs need to be courageous and vote for what their constituents want.”
Supporters of VAD are not limited to one side politics, with former LNP Premier Campbell Newman an advocate of the cause. Mr Newman has spoken publicly on multiple occasions about legislating VAD, as has current Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk.
“It’s not an issue to be split down party lines,” says Mr Traill. “That’s why it will be decided upon with a conscience vote. MPs need to listen to their constituents and remember that supporting VAD legislation is supporting giving people the choice at the end of their life. No more people will die, but fewer will suffer.”
The ETU’s late State Secretary, Peter “Simmo” Simpson was a staunch advocate of VAD before he passed away in September of 2020. Mr Simpson battled melanoma for multiple years, and spoke about legislating VAD and his wish for a choice throughout being sick. In a video created by the ETU, he was quoted saying “I’ve lived my life with dignity – why the hell do I want to go out any other way?”