Australian territories now free to legalise euthanasia

25-year ban on medically assisted death laws removed from ACT and The Northern Territory.

Australian territories now free to legalise euthanasia
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The Northern Territory and ACT are free to legalise euthanasia after the federal parliament lifted a ban that prevented them from doing so.

The Senate voted last week to reverse a 25-year-old ban that stopped the territories from enacting assisted dying laws.

The ban was put in place in 1997 after the NT had established the world’s first legal euthanasia program two years earlier.

Progressive politicians have been trying to reverse the ban ever since.

Last week’s successful vote was the fourth attempt to do so in the past 15 years.

The Senate’s public gallery broke into applause on Thursday as politicians agreed to lift the ban, without a formal count of votes for and against being required.

The decision followed hours of debate, with most senators and, earlier, many MPs, having their say on what the main parties allowed to be a conscience vote.

A majority of Coalition and Labor politicians had backed a ban on the territories deciding their own euthanasia laws, but those objections had waned as state governments legalised euthanasia.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said his government hoped to table draft laws for euthanasia next year.

NT chief minister, Natasha Fyles, indicated she would not prepare euthanasia legislation during this parliamentary term.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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