ACT Labor calls for the removal of ‘unfair’ subsections

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the continued operation of the subsections is increasingly absurd. Photo: Holly Treadaway

AN ACT government motion, passed in the ACT Legislative Assembly today (November 27), is calling on the Federal Parliament to remove the subsections from the ACT’s Self-Government Act, the same subsections, which exclude the ACT from making laws around voluntary assisted dying. 

The motion calls on the Federal Parliament to resolve that no Australian citizen should be disadvantaged with respect to their democratic rights on the basis of where they live; and remove subsections 23(1A) and (1B) from the “Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (Cwlth)”.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the continued operation of the subsections is increasingly absurd, given states like Victoria have legislated for voluntary assisted dying, and Western Australia was in the process of doing so.

“When the Federal Parliament inserted those subsections into our Self-Government Act, it was because they did not want us to be among the first jurisdictions to legislate for voluntary assisted dying,” he says.

“Now, it’s increasingly likely we might be among the last – if the Federal Parliament ever restores our rights.”

ACT Labor and ACT Greens agreed to write to their federal party leaders before the end of 2019 requesting their commitment to removing these subsections in the 2020 parliamentary year, and the Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said he was open to writing a letter.

ACT Labor MLA Tara Cheyne says simply by living in a territory, Canberra residents have fewer rights than those who live in states.

“No Australian citizen should be disadvantaged with respect to their democratic rights on the basis of where they live,” Ms Cheyne says.

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