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A law has been passed to allow the ACT and NT to make voluntary assisted dying laws

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The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will be allowed to pass their own laws on voluntary assisted dying after a change to Federal law passed both houses.

The territories have previously been prevented from doing this.

Background

State governments are already responsible for their own voluntary assisted dying laws. Every state has legalised voluntary assisted dying, with NSW the last state to do so in May this year.

Territories, on the other hand, have their rights to self-govern given to them by the Federal Parliament. In 1997, the Federal Parliament passed a law specifically revoking territories’ power to make voluntary assisted dying laws. This came after the Northern Territory had already legalised it.

The bill

Labor and the Coalition allowed their MPs and Senators a ‘conscience vote’ – meaning they could make up their minds individually rather than deciding on a position as a party.

The bill passed after several hours of debate last night.

The change does not automatically legalise voluntary assisted dying in the territories – territories would need to pass their own laws to do that.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said yesterday the ACT planned to legalise voluntary assisted dying next year. The NT Government intends to rework its existing legislation.

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