MEDIA – Transcript – Mix 104.9 – Federal Government must give the Territories the same rights to decide on euthanasia legislation
CANBERRA – 25 May, 2021
KATIE WOOLF, HOST: The Federal Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling, has made an impassioned plea in parliament for the Australian Government to repeal a bill that prevents the Northern Territory and the ACT from legalising euthanasia. And the Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling, joins me on the line right now. Good morning Luke. Where are we at with this? Because it seems as though it’s something that sort of comes up every few months. But we never quite get to the point where we’re making our own decision on this.
LUKE GOSLING, MEMBER FOR SOLOMON: Yeah, because the Federal Government and Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister, refused to basically come to a vote to change the bill. Your listeners would remember that back in 1997 we legislated for assisted dying in the Northern Territory. But that was overturned. Kevin Andrews, famously put up the bill – or infamously put up the bill – to take away our rights and ever since we haven’t had the full rights of people in the states. I mean, overturning the Andrews bill doesn’t mean that the NT or the ACT will be forced into legislating on euthanasia or voluntary assisted dying. Our point is that we should have the same rights as people in the states to make laws on these issues, or any issue.
WOOLF: And so, Luke, you obviously delivered a speech in Parliament about this, was it last night?
GOSLING: It was yesterday. I did five speeches yesterday, Katie, but this one was with Andrew Leigh, who’s an MP down here in the ACT. And you might remember the last time we met in a previous Parliament, we put a bill to the Parliament, which wasn’t allowed to go to a vote by the Morrison Government. But we again this time put it in the form of a Private Member’s Business [motion]. So, it gave an opportunity for MPs to speak about why Territorians should have the same rights as everyone else when it comes to making their own legislation. And we actually had one of the Government members speak in favour of the Territories, that was Tim Wilson, an MP from Victoria. So, I think, hopefully in the Government’s caucus room, there’s more voices taken. We have a situation where we’ve got legislation passing in Tasmania, Victoria and WA, and rejected by New South Wales and South Australia, ie, euthanasia legislation has been rejected by some of the states. So, we’re in a situation where the states are deciding one way or the other. But the Territory is not even allowed to have a vote.
WOOLF: So, Luke, where are we going to go with this? I mean, are we just going to be in a situation again, where we’re pushing this agenda along, or we’re certainly trying to, but it goes nowhere?
GOSLING: Well, it depends on what happens in the next federal election or whether the Prime Minister has a change of heart between now and the federal election. But you know, from our point of view, and I’m pretty confident no matter what people’s personal thoughts are on the issue of euthanasia, the majority of Territorians believe that we should have the same rights to legislate for these things. So I’ve just been calling on the Government to commit to overturning the Andrews bill, make us have the same rights as everyone else. And that’ll be a clear message to Territorians, you know, that the Federal Government hears our concerns and values us equally as they do all other Australians. It’s a shame that the Prime Minister didn’t have something to say about it when he visited Darwin recently. But I think that’s essentially the argument we’ve got to continue to make. And obviously, I hope there’s a change in the Federal Government in the next federal election, so that the Andrews bill can be repealed, but that’s up to the people of Australia.
WOOLF: And look, speaking of the next federal election, I know that former Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon is agitating again. He’s also threatened to quit parliament if Anthony Albanese’s agenda doesn’t go further in backing blue collar workers opening up a split within opposition ranks following on from that defeat at the weekend, in that by-election in the seat of the Upper Hunter. Luke, does Joel Fitzgibbon need to put up or shut up?
GOSLING: Whether Joel has made a decision to finish in politics or not, Katie, he certainly has been around for more than 20 years. He suffered a big swing against him in the last federal election which has made him look at his political mortality, I think. But the problem with us continually talking about ourselves, of course, is that we’re not talking about the fact that the Federal Government has totally failed on a vaccine roll-out and totally failed when it comes to quarantine. And I think most of the Federal members down here are totally aware of the challenges that we have in electorates that really depend on fossil fuel coal jobs, as it happens to be in the Hunter Valley. And we want to support workers 100 per cent. There are a small amount of people that don’t think gas has got any role. But that’s a small amount.
WOOLF: Do you think that Labor is doing enough to back blue-collar workers?
GOSLING: Oh, absolutely. If you have a look at what we’ve released ahead of the next federal election, there is so much in there for apprentices in particular, but also in supportive industries, both old industries and new industries in terms of infrastructure, to make sure that there are jobs here for our kids in the future. We happen to think that renewables are going to be a bigger part of the energy mix. So we’re going to focus on that. But it doesn’t mean that we’re leaving people behind in electorates where traditionally, there has been a really high dependence on these types of jobs. And if Joel doesn’t run again, someone from Labor will run in that electorate and they will represent the people working in those industries there and make sure that they’ve got good, safe, secure jobs. That’s what we’re all on about.