THE Tamworth and Northern Tablelands electorates overwhelmingly support laws that would legalise voluntary assisted dying in NSW, according to a series of community polls which wrap up this week.
As debate on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 continues in parliament, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson has revealed he will vote in support of the legislation to legalise euthanasia.
The final results of an electorate-wide consultation process are in, and out of 4954 responses across the Tamworth electorate, 78.4 per cent were in support of the bill.
In the Northern Tablelands, 77.8 per cent of residents are currently in favour out of 3552 individual responses, with community consultation set to wrap up today.
Mr Anderson said the issue is "deeply personal, and emotional" and there will be a significant number of amendments to the bill.
Personally, he would like to see changes to the legislation that strengthen checks and balances.
"For me, it is around strengthening that decision-making capacity regarding voluntary assisted dying and that the capacity is assessed through proper process from start all the way through," he said.
"It's imperative for me that that decision-making capacity is very strong and that there is no opportunity for elder abuse or for any opportunity where someone could be bullied or coerced for whatever reason."
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said while he has strong personal views on this issue, he will be speaking and voting on the bill in accordance with the wishes of his community.
"The key word in this bill for me is voluntary and I welcome debate on establishing a legislative framework which gives terminally ill people choice over end of life," he said.
Barwon MP Roy Butler has also revealed strong support for the bill from his electorate, with 80 per cent of people who responded during his community consultation supportive of the legislation.
However, he would like to see palliative care and voluntary assisted dying dealt with as two separate issues.
"We must never allow a lack of palliative care to be a factor in a person's decision to consider voluntary assisted dying," he said during a speech to NSW Parliament on Friday.
"A significant investment is required in palliative care, especially in regional and remote NSW, to allow people to have a choice."
But not all of the region's MPs are supportive of the bill.
Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell has told NSW Parliament he will not support the legislation.
Addressing parliament on Friday, Mr Layzell said he had discussed the issue at length with many members of the community and had come to the conclusion that he could not support it.
"I am not medically trained nor legally-minded so, as a simple man, I have boiled my decision down to three key principles: the concept of suffering, the concept of burden and my belief in the future of our society," Mr Layzell said.
"The question I have always asked, when we speak of suffering, is this: Is it about the patient, or is it about the people who have to watch?
"How much are we motivated by fear, and can this bill address the tragic feeling of loss experienced by those who have watched a loved one at the end of life?
"I came to this conclusion: No, I do not believe it can. Yet it is on this basis that many people have asked me to support this bill."
Mr Layzell said in his view, the arguments in favour of voluntary assisted dying had to be "counterbalanced with the burden we place on doctors who are charged with the administration of this final act".
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 aims to provide a legislative framework for the rights of terminally ill persons to request and receive assistance to end their lives voluntarily.
Under the bill, only adults diagnosed with a terminal illness that will cause death within six months, or 12 months for neurodegenerative conditions, and who are experiencing suffering as a result of the condition that cannot be tolerably relieved, will be able to access voluntary assisted dying.
The bill will likely go to a vote next Thursday, when attention will then turn to debating suggested amendments.
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