Passage of Territory Rights Bill Welcome

Australia Institute

The Australia Institute today welcomes the passage of the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022, which will restore to the Territories the right to legislate for voluntary assisted dying laws.

“The restoration of Territory Rights is a testament to the strength of representative democracy. The Australian Parliament should be commended for recognising that the citizens of the ACT and NT deserve the same democratic rights afforded to Australians living in the six states,” said Bill Browne, Democracy & Accountability Program Director at the Australia Institute.

“Congratulations to Canberra MP Alicia Payne and Solomon MP Luke Gosling, who join a short but important list of MPs whose private members’ bills have become law.

“Credit also goes to ACT Senators Katy Gallagher and David Pocock, who have championed this reform and helped shepherd the passage of this legislation through the Senate, and the Labor Government for ensuring debate was prioritised, and Senators from all sides of politics for voting with their conscience to ensure this bill passed.

“The passage of this legislation highlights the importance of strong community news. The Canberra Times campaign over the last two years put this legislation on the election agenda, and Territory Rights became a key election promise for the ACT.

“All MPs and Senators who voted in favour of Territory Rights can rest assured that the nation is on their side. Australia Institute research has consistently shown that Australians support both voluntary assisted dying and the territories’ right to debate and legislate on the issue.

“The lifting of restrictions on what the territories can legislate reinforces that the ACT and NT are well-established self-governing democracies.

“The Australian Parliament’s attention could now turn to other unfair restrictions, such as the limited number of territory senators, and the ability of the National Capital Authority to override the ACT Government,” Mr Browne said.

Background

  • Australia Institute polling in 2021 and 2022 consistently found most Australians agreed with voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in principle and supported territory governments being able to legislate VAD within their jurisdictions.
  • The Australia Institute has been pursuing this issue for many years, with national VAD polling in 2010 and 2012, and opinion pieces from deputy director Ebony Bennett, executive director Richard Denniss and former executive director Ben Oquist.

Australia Institute polling on territory rights in 2021 also found:

  • One in two (49%) Australians agree that the National Capital Authority (NCA) should be abolished, compared to 13% who disagree.
  • Six in ten (62%) Australians agree that the ACT Government, not the NCA, should decide whether pill testing can occur in the ACT.
  • One in two (51%) Australians support increasing the number of senators elected by each territory from 2 to 4, with one in five (21%) opposed.
  • 45% of Australians support the ACT having the right to allow 16- and 17-year- olds to enrol to vote on a voluntary basis, with 31% opposed.

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