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Terminally ill celebrate the right to die

23 Nov 2017 • The Australian, Australia (General News) by Samantha Hutchinson Terminally ill patients in Victoria will have access to the country's first voluntary euthanasia scheme in more than 20 years, after an assisted dying bill passed the state's upper house following a marathon sitting of parliament. Legislative Council MPs voted to make Victoria the first state in the nation to allow terminally ill people to legally end their own lives, passing the Labor government's bill by 22 votes to 18 after an emotionally charged debate. Premier Daniel Andrews praised MPs for giving terminally ill Victorians the power to "write their own final chapter". "Today's all about emotion, and it's all about compassion," Mr Andrews said. "It's about providing for those who have for too long been denied a compassionate end, and the control, the power, over the last phase of their journey." Amendments to the bill will have to be approved in the lower house when it sits next week, but this is expected to be largely a formality. The laws make Victoria the first state in the country to legalise voluntary-assisted dying and the only jurisdiction in the country to have enacted the landmark reform since the federal government repealed the Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 1997. During the time it was in operation, four people ended their lives under its provisions. Cancer sufferer Kass Hall and Nia Sims, who has a lifethreatening auto-immune condition, said the outcome was a win for terminally ill patients who now felt they had a degree of control Continued on Page 4 MORE REPORTS P4 HOW WILL IT WORK? ? Patients must make three, clear euthanasia requests ? They will be assessed by two experienced doctors, including at least one specialist ? Those approved will be granted permits for lethal medications, which must be self-administered ? The process to apply and receive medication will take 10 days ? Unused lethal medication must be returned within 15 days of death ? The Department of Health and Human Services will approve applications ? Death certificates will record 'voluntary assisted dying' ? The coroner must be notified of assisted dying deaths Source: Victorian government Terminally ill celebrate the right to die Continued from Page 1 over their lives. "I'm thrilled," Ms Hall said. "And it's not so much for myself, but for others who will now have the right to decide their own future and to exercise their own personal autonomy. For a lot of people, knowing that it's there is enough." Ms Hall, 39, has been battling cancer since being diagnosed with pediatric gastrointestinal stromal tumour at the age of 12 and fears the illness will one day end her life. "It's on the table and whether or not it becomes a reality, who knows, but at least its an option," she said. Ms Sims said the bill brought her an enormous amount of comfort. "The reality is that with my disease, I could experience either gut or lung failure, which means starving or suffocating. But now I have peace of mind knowing that I have control," she said. The Victorian scheme, which its architects say is the most conservative in the world, will come into action in June 2019, after an 18-month implementation period. It will allow terminally ill patients of sound mind with a life expectancy of six months or fewer to end their lives. There will be special exceptions for sufferers of motor-neurone disease and other neuro-degenerative illnesses with a 12-month life expectancy to access the scheme. In most cases, patients will be given the lethal drug by a doctor and will take it themselves. In some case, where a patient is unable to take the drug themselves, a doctor may be permitted to administer it. Former prime minister Tony Abbott condemned the passage of the bill and called for its repeal. "People's lives have to be respected and this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong," Mr Abbott said. "I hope that a future Victorian parliament might reverse this." Mr Abbott spoke to 2GB radio host Ben Fordham from the bedside of his father Richard, who had a stroke on Monday. "People who are gravely ill should have their pain relieved, not their lives ended," he said. "Doctors should be healers; they should never be required to be killers." The bill passed with the support of 11 government MPs, in addition to four Liberals, five Greens, Reason Party leader Fiona Patten and Vote 1 Local Jobs leader James Purcell. Emotional scenes played out in the chamber after Legislative Council president Bruce Atkinson announced the final outcome. Teary government MPs, including Cesar Melhem, Jaclyn Symes and Jaala Pulford - who earlier in the debate had shared the heartbreaking story of her 12-year-old daughter Sinead's battle with cancer embraced one another in front of a packed public gallery. Caption Text: STUART McEVOY Cancer sufferer Kass Hall in Melbourne yesterday and, below, Nia Sims. 'For a lot of people, knowing that it's there is enough,' Ms Hall says of euthanasia Clockwise from main: Nia Sims, 43, is terminally ill with scleroderma; upper house MPs celebrate as the bill passes through the Victorian parliament; and Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Premier Daniel Andrews after the vote PHOTOS: STUART McEVOY, GETTY IMAGES, AAP Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Terminally ill celebrate the right to die

23 Nov 2017 • The Australian, Australia (General News) by Samantha Hutchinson Terminally ill patients in Victoria will have access to the country's first voluntary euthanasia scheme in more than 20 years, after an assisted dying bill passed the state's upper house following a marathon sitting of parliament. Legislative Council MPs voted to make Victoria the first state in the nation to allow terminally ill people to legally end their own lives, passing the Labor government's bill by 22 votes to 18 after an emotionally charged debate. Premier Daniel Andrews praised MPs for giving terminally ill Victorians the power to "write their own final chapter". "Today's all about emotion, and it's all about compassion," Mr Andrews said. "It's about providing for those who have for too long been denied a compassionate end, and the control, the power, over the last phase of their journey." Amendments to the bill will have to be approved in the lower house when it sits next week, but this is expected to be largely a formality. The laws make Victoria the first state in the country to legalise voluntary-assisted dying and the only jurisdiction in the country to have enacted the landmark reform since the federal government repealed the Northern Territory's Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 1997. During the time it was in operation, four people ended their lives under its provisions. Cancer sufferer Kass Hall and Nia Sims, who has a lifethreatening auto-immune condition, said the outcome was a win for terminally ill patients who now felt they had a degree of control Continued on Page 4 MORE REPORTS P4 HOW WILL IT WORK? ? Patients must make three, clear euthanasia requests ? They will be assessed by two experienced doctors, including at least one specialist ? Those approved will be granted permits for lethal medications, which must be self-administered ? The process to apply and receive medication will take 10 days ? Unused lethal medication must be returned within 15 days of death ? The Department of Health and Human Services will approve applications ? Death certificates will record 'voluntary assisted dying' ? The coroner must be notified of assisted dying deaths Source: Victorian government Terminally ill celebrate the right to die Continued from Page 1 over their lives. "I'm thrilled," Ms Hall said. "And it's not so much for myself, but for others who will now have the right to decide their own future and to exercise their own personal autonomy. For a lot of people, knowing that it's there is enough." Ms Hall, 39, has been battling cancer since being diagnosed with pediatric gastrointestinal stromal tumour at the age of 12 and fears the illness will one day end her life. "It's on the table and whether or not it becomes a reality, who knows, but at least its an option," she said. Ms Sims said the bill brought her an enormous amount of comfort. "The reality is that with my disease, I could experience either gut or lung failure, which means starving or suffocating. But now I have peace of mind knowing that I have control," she said. The Victorian scheme, which its architects say is the most conservative in the world, will come into action in June 2019, after an 18-month implementation period. It will allow terminally ill patients of sound mind with a life expectancy of six months or fewer to end their lives. There will be special exceptions for sufferers of motor-neurone disease and other neuro-degenerative illnesses with a 12-month life expectancy to access the scheme. In most cases, patients will be given the lethal drug by a doctor and will take it themselves. In some case, where a patient is unable to take the drug themselves, a doctor may be permitted to administer it. Former prime minister Tony Abbott condemned the passage of the bill and called for its repeal. "People's lives have to be respected and this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong," Mr Abbott said. "I hope that a future Victorian parliament might reverse this." Mr Abbott spoke to 2GB radio host Ben Fordham from the bedside of his father Richard, who had a stroke on Monday. "People who are gravely ill should have their pain relieved, not their lives ended," he said. "Doctors should be healers; they should never be required to be killers." The bill passed with the support of 11 government MPs, in addition to four Liberals, five Greens, Reason Party leader Fiona Patten and Vote 1 Local Jobs leader James Purcell. Emotional scenes played out in the chamber after Legislative Council president Bruce Atkinson announced the final outcome. Teary government MPs, including Cesar Melhem, Jaclyn Symes and Jaala Pulford - who earlier in the debate had shared the heartbreaking story of her 12-year-old daughter Sinead's battle with cancer embraced one another in front of a packed public gallery. Caption Text: STUART McEVOY Cancer sufferer Kass Hall in Melbourne yesterday and, below, Nia Sims. 'For a lot of people, knowing that it's there is enough,' Ms Hall says of euthanasia Clockwise from main: Nia Sims, 43, is terminally ill with scleroderma; upper house MPs celebrate as the bill passes through the Victorian parliament; and Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Premier Daniel Andrews after the vote PHOTOS: STUART McEVOY, GETTY IMAGES, AAP Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Tears of joy over death bill

23 Nov 2017 • Border Mail, Albury-Wodonga (General News) by Anthony Bunn THE legalisation of euthanasia in Victoria shows the state's MPs have caught up with the public, a Labor MP for the North East believes. Jaclyn Symes was speaking after sitting through a 28-hour session in the Upper House which ended with a 22-18 conscience vote for voluntary assisted dying. "I think we've caught up," she said. "I think 80 per cent of the public are supportive of a form of voluntary assisted dying for those that are terminally ill and close to death. "We had a 22-18 result today and a stronger vote in the Assembly and I think this bill getting up reflects community sentiment." The bill will now return to the Lower House next week for final ratification with euthanasia to be legal in Victoria from mid-2019. From midday Tuesday, when debate began, Ms Symes as a whip had been in the chamber offering advice on proposed amendments to MPs supporting euthanasia. "I've missed no more than five minutes over the past 28 hours," she said. "Today was pretty emotional at the end, we got it together for the vote, but as soon as we realised it had passed it hit home. "I can't stop crying. "I think there are a lot of people that feel the same way...but more importantly those that have got an illness that's got them in decline they can take comfort that this law will exist." Member for Benambra Bill Tilley, who voted against the bill in the Legislative Assembly, was disappointed by yesterday's vote. "On an ethical and a moral position I don't support it and continue not to support it, but I can empathise with those that do," he said. "I'm of the view that there's no reason why anyone should be dying painfully. "I have been given assurances by medical authorities and experts that there's no need for a person to be dying painfully with the drugs we've got, so I don't accept that part of the argument." Mr Tilley said he also continued to have concerns about the "type of poison" that would be offered to euthanasia candidates. More coverage: P9 Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Tears of joy over death bill

23 Nov 2017 • Border Mail, Albury-Wodonga (General News) by Anthony Bunn THE legalisation of euthanasia in Victoria shows the state's MPs have caught up with the public, a Labor MP for the North East believes. Jaclyn Symes was speaking after sitting through a 28-hour session in the Upper House which ended with a 22-18 conscience vote for voluntary assisted dying. "I think we've caught up," she said. "I think 80 per cent of the public are supportive of a form of voluntary assisted dying for those that are terminally ill and close to death. "We had a 22-18 result today and a stronger vote in the Assembly and I think this bill getting up reflects community sentiment." The bill will now return to the Lower House next week for final ratification with euthanasia to be legal in Victoria from mid-2019. From midday Tuesday, when debate began, Ms Symes as a whip had been in the chamber offering advice on proposed amendments to MPs supporting euthanasia. "I've missed no more than five minutes over the past 28 hours," she said. "Today was pretty emotional at the end, we got it together for the vote, but as soon as we realised it had passed it hit home. "I can't stop crying. "I think there are a lot of people that feel the same way...but more importantly those that have got an illness that's got them in decline they can take comfort that this law will exist." Member for Benambra Bill Tilley, who voted against the bill in the Legislative Assembly, was disappointed by yesterday's vote. "On an ethical and a moral position I don't support it and continue not to support it, but I can empathise with those that do," he said. "I'm of the view that there's no reason why anyone should be dying painfully. "I have been given assurances by medical authorities and experts that there's no need for a person to be dying painfully with the drugs we've got, so I don't accept that part of the argument." Mr Tilley said he also continued to have concerns about the "type of poison" that would be offered to euthanasia candidates. More coverage: P9 Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Energy supply fears

22 Nov 2017 • Benalla Ensign, Benalla VIC (General News) by Fraser Walker-Pearce Benalla business Mirfak Pty Ltd faced paying a 100 per cent increased electricity bill, which a local MP says is a direct result of the state government's failure to secure baseload power supplies. And it could be worse, as Benalla businesses and households could face power blackouts during the summer because of a predicted shortfall in energy. State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said Mirfak's situation was one of many in the region, and has happened because the government failed to realise the gravity of the situation, and the amount of people it would affect. The warning comes after it was found diesel generators were being installed across Victoria because of the predicted shortfall. Ms Ryan said Victoria lost 22 per cent of its energy supplies as a result of the closure of Hazelwood in March. "Before Hazelwood closed, Victoria's Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio told Parliament that power prices would increase by no more than four per cent and there would be no shortfall in energy supplies," Ms Ryan said. "Local businesses have reported massive bill increases since Hazelwood closed and we now face the crazy situation where Victoria is installing diesel generators to get us through summer because we don't have enough baseload energy." Mirfak owner Mark Murphy said if he had not been switched on, he would have had to pay double for the same amount of power. "Our contract expired in August this year and we're going to have to pay 100 per cent more," Mr Murphy said. "We signed a new contract with an 11 per cent increase for peak power, however, off-peak charges have still increased by 55 per cent." Mr Murphy said increasing electricity prices would stifle business growth with most small businesses unable to recoup costs or pass them on. Ms Ryan said not only were diesel generators a worse outcome for the environment, but they also required "half a million litres of diesel each day" to operate. Fruits N Fare owners Rick and Di Aumann have installed solar panels to help combat the increase in energy costs and shop around every six months just to get a better deal. "My biggest fear is who is going to cover any losses in the event of a blackout?" Mrs Aumann said. "Aside from what we would lose from having to close during the blackout, we would lose thousands in lost produce." A response was received from Jaclyn Symes after deadline for this article, and will be published on the Ensign's website. Caption Text: Crisis looms: State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan and Mirfak Pty Ltd owner Mark Murphy discuss rising energy prices and what can be done to combat them. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Energy supply fears

22 Nov 2017 • Benalla Ensign, Benalla VIC (General News) by Fraser Walker-Pearce Benalla business Mirfak Pty Ltd faced paying a 100 per cent increased electricity bill, which a local MP says is a direct result of the state government's failure to secure baseload power supplies. And it could be worse, as Benalla businesses and households could face power blackouts during the summer because of a predicted shortfall in energy. State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said Mirfak's situation was one of many in the region, and has happened because the government failed to realise the gravity of the situation, and the amount of people it would affect. The warning comes after it was found diesel generators were being installed across Victoria because of the predicted shortfall. Ms Ryan said Victoria lost 22 per cent of its energy supplies as a result of the closure of Hazelwood in March. "Before Hazelwood closed, Victoria's Energy Minister Lily D'Ambrosio told Parliament that power prices would increase by no more than four per cent and there would be no shortfall in energy supplies," Ms Ryan said. "Local businesses have reported massive bill increases since Hazelwood closed and we now face the crazy situation where Victoria is installing diesel generators to get us through summer because we don't have enough baseload energy." Mirfak owner Mark Murphy said if he had not been switched on, he would have had to pay double for the same amount of power. "Our contract expired in August this year and we're going to have to pay 100 per cent more," Mr Murphy said. "We signed a new contract with an 11 per cent increase for peak power, however, off-peak charges have still increased by 55 per cent." Mr Murphy said increasing electricity prices would stifle business growth with most small businesses unable to recoup costs or pass them on. Ms Ryan said not only were diesel generators a worse outcome for the environment, but they also required "half a million litres of diesel each day" to operate. Fruits N Fare owners Rick and Di Aumann have installed solar panels to help combat the increase in energy costs and shop around every six months just to get a better deal. "My biggest fear is who is going to cover any losses in the event of a blackout?" Mrs Aumann said. "Aside from what we would lose from having to close during the blackout, we would lose thousands in lost produce." A response was received from Jaclyn Symes after deadline for this article, and will be published on the Ensign's website. Caption Text: Crisis looms: State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan and Mirfak Pty Ltd owner Mark Murphy discuss rising energy prices and what can be done to combat them. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Upper house MPs continue to debate the assisted dying bill

22 Nov 2017 • Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Samantha Dick THE debate on voluntary euthanasia continued in the upper house at the Victorian Parliament last night, with opponents pushing for amendments to the landmark legislation. Wangaratta lower house MP Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley) said he expected the debate to move slowly in the upper house given that MPs in the lower house spent 26 hours debating the legislation last month. "It will be interesting to see what amendments get made," he said. "Apparently one change ruled that a terminally ill person needed to be diagnosed with six months to live - not 12 - in order to access voluntary euthanasia." It is understood that 12 months will apply to those with a motor neurone disease. Mr McCurdy said he maintained his concerns about the prospect of family members being allowed to administer the lethal drug to a terminally ill person. "I still believe the drug should be administered by a medical practitioner," he told the Wangaratta Chronicle yesterday. "If a family member administers it, that person could have second thoughts about what they did and experience mental health issues as a result. "Even if it's in the wishes of the terminally ill person, I'm still concerned about the ramifications of that scenario... but obviously I need to wait and see what the amendments are." Mr McCurdy also said he still feared that a terminally ill person could be vulnerable to coercion. "If you've got a terminal illness, you're probably not in the best position to make those decisions," he said. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) has maintained her support of the Bill, and is among the 40 upper house members currently debating the amendments, which if passed, will need to go back to the lower house. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

Upper house MPs continue to debate the assisted dying bill

22 Nov 2017 • Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC (General News) by Samantha Dick THE debate on voluntary euthanasia continued in the upper house at the Victorian Parliament last night, with opponents pushing for amendments to the landmark legislation. Wangaratta lower house MP Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley) said he expected the debate to move slowly in the upper house given that MPs in the lower house spent 26 hours debating the legislation last month. "It will be interesting to see what amendments get made," he said. "Apparently one change ruled that a terminally ill person needed to be diagnosed with six months to live - not 12 - in order to access voluntary euthanasia." It is understood that 12 months will apply to those with a motor neurone disease. Mr McCurdy said he maintained his concerns about the prospect of family members being allowed to administer the lethal drug to a terminally ill person. "I still believe the drug should be administered by a medical practitioner," he told the Wangaratta Chronicle yesterday. "If a family member administers it, that person could have second thoughts about what they did and experience mental health issues as a result. "Even if it's in the wishes of the terminally ill person, I'm still concerned about the ramifications of that scenario... but obviously I need to wait and see what the amendments are." Mr McCurdy also said he still feared that a terminally ill person could be vulnerable to coercion. "If you've got a terminal illness, you're probably not in the best position to make those decisions," he said. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) has maintained her support of the Bill, and is among the 40 upper house members currently debating the amendments, which if passed, will need to go back to the lower house. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.

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