I welcome the Premier’s decision to provide Liberal members of Parliament with a conscience vote on the issue of Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation.
I too wish to thank the Premier for providing all Members of Parliament with both the University of Tasmania (UTAS) Independent Review Report into Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation along with advice from Government Agencies on the implementation of the Bill, should it pass the House of Assembly.
There is no denying this matter is complex and the advice provided by Government Agencies’ only raises additional concerns for me, not least of which impact on our criminal law.
Although I make these remarks as the Liberal Member for Clark, I am well traversed with the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) and other Tasmanian legislation.
The Agencies’ advice raises a fundamental legal flaw regarding telehealth with the Bill conflicting with the Commonwealth law, specifically sections 174.29A and 194.29B of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) which prohibit using a carriage service to access, transmit, make available, publish or otherwise distribute material that directly or indirectly counsels or incites committing or attempting to commit suicide.
It is considered that section 137 and 138 of the Bill will not correct this risk and is insurmountable.
Some other initial legal concerns I have are around the application and legal and operational difficulties of the Judicial Review Act 2000 (Tas), the Coroners Act 1995 (Tas), protection from liability and inconsistencies regarding the nature of the seriousness of offences. In addition, there are numerous interpretation issues identified by Agencies.
I will continue to consider the Agencies’ advice as well as the UTAS report over coming days but the 139 risks raised by the Agencies alone are enough to cause great concern, especially given the limited time available before this Bill is before the House of Assembly next week.
Elise Archer, Liberal Member for Clark