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Speech: Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill – Third Reading Speech

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (23:27): I will make a brief third reading contribution because I want to put on the record that I thank all those members of the community who wrote to me and the other members of this chamber. Many of those pieces of correspondence were quite personal and deeply traumatic, and I appreciate their sharing their stories with me as an elected member. Indeed, they are very reflective of what we know now from the Australia Institute poll, that some four in five South Australians do believe we need voluntary assisted dying laws. For the Greens, 97 per cent of our membership believes that we need voluntary assisted dying laws. But it is significantly high for all members of all political parties.

This is simply the right thing to do for the wellbeing of our society, to ease the burden on those who are suffering, as well as their friends and family, their loved ones. No matter how caring or supportive palliative care staff are, there is only so much they can do to ease the suffering, and the toll that it takes on them as workers must be quite significant.

This bill is and always has been about the overall quality of life and enhancing that for these people, who are deserving of choice in the most difficult times and of that choice of how to end their time—a choice of autonomy, dignity and control, of not being forced to suffer an agonising death, of not being forced to spread the suffering to their loved ones, who are often needlessly traumatised, and that bereavement comes with its own particular pain and suffering that we can help them avert.

As an elected member of parliament, I am very proud tonight to see that we are probably going to pass this bill. I urge the other place to afford this piece of legislation, which is overwhelmingly supported by the public, the unfettered debating time that it needs to be done properly in the other place. We have seen time and time again bills prorogued, bills not getting to a final vote or bills rushed and then voted on in the very early hours of the morning, with people regretting that they were put under undue stress and time constraints and that perhaps their votes may have been different.

I believe people should be given the voice and control over their own deaths in their own way and I believe this bill is deserving of time in the other place that is reflective of the importance of this issue.

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