NSW assisted dying laws could draw Canberrans across the border

NSW Nationals MP Trevor Khan supports assisted dying laws. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
NSW Nationals MP Trevor Khan supports assisted dying laws. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

The man behind the latest push for assisted dying laws in NSW says Canberrans could move across to the border to end their lives if new laws pass the state's Parliament.

Nationals MP Trevor Khan and a group of cross-party group of MPs released draft legislation to allow people over 25 and expected to die within 12 months access to medically assisted euthanasia on Tuesday.

The NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has been drafted through the co-operation of Coalition, Labor, Greens and independent MPs, but would only allow people "ordinarily resident" in NSW to take part.

Under its provisions, an individual would be required to be experiencing severe pain or physical incapacity and have been assessed by their primary doctor, a specialist and a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Patients would self-administer a lethal substance to end their lives, possibly assisted by a medical practitioner or other nominated person.

The draft legislation requires a cooling-off period of 48 hours apply, starting once a formal request for assistance certificate had been completed. It would also enable a close relative of a dying person to apply to the Supreme Court for a judicial review.

Mr Khan said individuals would be required to show proof of residence, but it was a smaller challenge than some faced by people seeking to end their lives.

"The concept of residency is not an unknown concept at law," he said. It requires a person to live in a particular location, and that's a matter of proof as opposed to technical legal concept.

"The same sort of cross-border issues might apply with NSW and Queensland, or indeed Victoria.

"People who are in the end stages of their lives, and that's what we're talking about, are driven by desperation currently to do a whole variety of things of far greater magnitude than moving address."

Mr Khan said the group - which includes Liberal MP Lee Evans, Labor's Lynda Voltz, Green Mehreen Faruqi and independent MP Alex Greenwich - wanted to take "tribal politics" out of end of life debates.

The bill is expected to be introduced into NSW Parliament in August.

Federal Parliament's 1997 Euthanasia Laws Act removed the rights of territory parliaments to debate or pass laws relating to euthanasia.

Known as the Andrews Bill, it was introduced after the Northern Territory legalised euthanasia in 1995 and allowed terminally ill patients to die with medical assistance. The private members' bill, a flashpoint and milestone in Australian politics, is named for conservative backbencher Kevin Andrews.

ACT senator Katy Gallagher has called the bill a "legislative sledgehammer".

A Greens petition calling for the overturn of the Andrews Bill gained support from more than 1000 people in 2016, with Minister Shane Rattenbury joining with the federal Greens in calling for new national laws.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr last year called for end of life powers to be restored to the ACT and Northern Territory parliaments, arguing the rights of ACT residents should not be compromised by the ideals of federal politicians, "who don't represent the territory."

Victoria and Tasmania are among states currently considering euthanasia laws.