Attendance at the aged care, end of life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying hearing held in Bundaberg in July last year. More chairs needed to be brought into the conference room as attendance was higher than expected. Picture: Mike Knott.
Attendance at the aged care, end of life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying hearing held in Bundaberg in July last year. More chairs needed to be brought into the conference room as attendance was higher than expected. Picture: Mike Knott.

Dying for answers: residents react to VAD delay

SOME Bundaberg residents have expressed frustration over a delay with legislating voluntary assisted dying.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced in parliament this week the Queensland Law Reform Commission would prepare draft legislation, and deliver it to the attorney-general by March next year.

Assisted dying groups such as Dying With Dignity are upset with further delays, and are prepared to turn it into an election issue.

Moore Park Beach resident Alan Corbett said he was disappointed with the Premier's decision, believed the delay was politically strategic, and was considering recontesting as an independent Bundaberg MP to campaign for voluntary assisted dying.

He received almost 2.5 per cent of the vote when he ran against Bundaberg MP David Batt three years ago.

"My wife passed away in 2017. I'm sure she would have wanted the option of a peaceful death but she didn't take that road, she couldn't take that road," Mr Corbett said.

Mr Corbett had given evidence to the voluntary assisted dying parliamentary committee, which visited Bundaberg last July, with an emphasis that proposed legislation to allow voluntary assisted dying had to be accessible for people in regional areas with limited accessibility to health.

His wife had a neurological condition and was unable to travel, and did not have access to a specialist.

"She asked me to ensure other people could do something about it, to let other people know this was an issue," Mr Corbett said.

"What I'm probably doing in that respect is fulfilling a promise I made to her."

Mr Batt said voluntary assisted dying was a "highly emotive" subject, and that legislation needed community consultation and detailed research.

There was not yet a guarantee a bill would be brought to the parliament, he said.

"There is no way I can pre-empt what a future bill might contain, but I can assure Bundaberg residents that their views will form the basis of my vote, as it did for the Termination of Pregnancy Bill in October, 2018," Mr Batt said.

"It is my role to represent the views of our community in Queensland Parliament, which is why I always have and always will encourage the people of Bundaberg to share their views with me, regardless of what state government matter it relates to."

Dying with Dignity state secretary and Bundaberg resident Phyllis Wagner said she was "quite upset" with the Premier's announcement.

"Why do we have to have all these people suffer to this date in March? Why can't we get it moving now? Do you realise how many people are going to be suffering because we now have to wait until March? We've already waited."

Ms Palaszczuk said the proposed legislation was similar to the Victorian and Western Australian legislation, which were the only other states to legislate voluntary assisted dying.

"Competing interests and views of Queenslanders and experts have to be carefully balanced, and the lives of our elderly and most vulnerable people protected," she said.

"There are also a number of operational issues to work through before we can implement any kind of voluntary assisted dying scheme in Queensland at this time."