Poll shows majority in Victoria support voluntary euthanasia

Three out of four Victorians say people suffering from incurable illnesses should be able to access assistance to die if they want to, a poll suggests.

However, neither the government nor the opposition has plans to engage with the issue before this month's state election. Labor leader Daniel Andrews said he did not support voluntary euthanasia and Premier Denis Napthine declined to state his personal view.

Both said they had no plans to refer the matter to the Victorian Law Reform Commission to advise them on possible legal changes.

Dr Napthine said: "That's not a matter I have thought to address. I believe that any proposal to change euthanasia laws is an important moral and social issue that should be decided by a conscience vote in Parliament."

A Fairfax Ipsos poll of 1000 Victorians conducted last week found 76 per cent supported a change to laws that ban assisted suicide and euthanasia. It comes as Greens senator Richard Di Natale prepares a federal bill seeking to legalise voluntary euthanasia for people suffering "intolerably" from a terminal illness. The bill, which is being refined, would make it legal for doctors to help mentally competent adults with an incurable sickness to end their life.

Ten candidates in the Voluntary Euthanasia Party will run for upper house seats in five regions in the Victorian state election.

Lead candidate Penny McCasker said the party's sole goal was to have voluntary euthanasia referred to the Law Reform Commission so it could report back to state parliament on changes to the law.

The party says people experiencing unbearable suffering, a terminal illness or an incurable disease should be able to access medical assistance to die, with appropriate safeguards to protect vulnerable people, such as those who might be coerced into making a request to die.

Ms McCasker said even if there was a conscience vote on the Greens' federal bill next year, she doubted that some politicians would feel truly free to vote based on their conscience only.

From : The Age, 14/11/2014