Death Bill pledge

Pal­lia­tive pack­age to help eu­thana­sia vote

Herald Sun - - NEWS - MATT JOHNSTON AND ALEX WHITE matthew.johnston@news.com.au

A NEW $62 mil­lion pal­lia­tive care pack­age has been pledged by the An­drews Gov­ern­ment in a des­per­ate bid to get its vol­un­tary eu­thana­sia bill through State Par­lia­ment.

Amend­ments to the bill, in­clud­ing a shorter time frame un­der which most ter­mi­nally ill Vic­to­ri­ans can ap­ply to die and a new res­i­dency re­quire­ment, will also be made in a bid to sat­isfy un­de­cided MPs.

A dra­matic week is ex­pected in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, with ex­tended sit­ting hours and a special Fri­day ses­sion of Par­lia­ment likely to get the draft laws to a vote.

The Her­ald Sun can re­veal a Na­tion­als MP who frac­tured her shoul­der in a car crash last week will be in the cham­ber to vote against the plan.

Melina Bath, who has been re­cov­er­ing in hos­pi­tal since last week, said: “I’m de­ter­mined to be in Par­lia­ment be­cause I feel so strongly about vot­ing against this Bill”.

“I am in a very un­com­fort­able state at the mo­ment but I’ve taken ad­vice from med­i­cal staff about how to man­age.”

Late yes­ter­day At­tor­neyGen­eral Martin Pakula said the gov­ern­ment’s 11th-hour changes to the bill would not af­fect the over­all struc­ture or “in­tegrity” of the gov­ern­ment’s scheme.

It would still al­low ter­mi­nally ill Vic­to­ri­ans of sound mind to ap­ply for lethal medi- cation if given ap­proval by two doc­tors.

But rather than have 12 months be­fore their ex­pected death to ap­ply for the scheme, most pa­tients would only have six months un­der the amend­ments.

Ex­emp­tions would be made for peo­ple with cer­tain dis­or­ders such as mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease and mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

Peo­ple would also have to prove they have been a Vic­to­rian res­i­dent for 12 months.

La­bor MP Jaala Pul­ford said the $62 mil­lion pack­age for end-of-life sup­port and pal­lia­tive care would be paid over five years, with most fo­cus on ser­vices for coun­try ar­eas.

Most of the money will go to­wards more spe­cial­ist doc­tors and nurses in the bush, as well as home-based pal­lia­tive care through hos­pi­tal and com­mu­nity sec­tor providers.

A $6.25 mil­lion 24-hour ex­pert pal­lia­tive care ad­vice line would also be cre­ated.

The late changes were slammed by Lib­eral MPs and eu­thana­sia op­po­nents Inga Peulich and David Davis.

The eu­thana­sia bill has up to 20 votes in sup­port, but 21 are needed.

Premier Daniel An­drews said the frame­work was “very safe and con­ser­va­tive”.

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