Parties unite to call for territory rights

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The ACT Legislative Assembly. Photo: Senthan Thani

THE Canberra Liberals, ACT Labor and ACT Greens have united to call on the federal government to introduce territory rights to the ACT.

Behind the united front is a common desire to debate and legislate on the issue of voluntary assisted dying.

Taken to the ACT Legislative Assembly today (March 31), Human Rights Minister Tara Cheyne, Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury and Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee, all sponsored the motion calling on the introduction of territory rights.

The unanimously-passed motion draws attention to the inequity between the states and territories, highlighting that by mid-2021, all Australian states will have either passed legislation relating to voluntary assisted dying or have a Bill before their parliament.

Following the passing of the motion, Minister Rattenbury said Canberrans must be able to govern for Canberra and the Commonwealth is doing a disservice to democracy by continuing to silence debate in the ACT.

Ms Lee said she had raised the matter with her Liberal colleague, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, during their last meeting, and will continue to raise it with him, saying the assembly is democratically elected by the people of Canberra and should have the right to legislate on this matter on behalf of Canberrans.

“We are members of the community that we serve; and we are in this chamber because we were elected by thousands of Canberrans to be their voice in their parliament; our parliament,” she said.

Ms Lee did admit that the issue of voluntary assisted dying is not an easy one but said the Canberra Liberals acknowledge and respect the very diverse views on voluntary assisted dying in the ACT community.

“I have made it very clear from the outset, as was made clear in the last term, that should this chamber be given the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying, it will be a matter for a conscience vote for the Canberra Liberals,” she said.

The motion invites all interested Members of the Legislative Assembly to sign a letter to all members and Senators of Federal Parliament by the end of the sitting week.

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