National

Assisted dying debate in WA upper house

By AAP Newswire

The voluntary assisted dying bill will be debated in Western Australia's upper house, after cruising through the lower house, and at least one Liberal MP has revealed he will back Labor's legislation.

Last month, the bill passed in the Legislative Assembly, 46 in favour and 11 against, after more than 70 hours of debate that included an all-night sitting.

Attempts to amend the bill to include additional safeguards were voted down, but some of those issues are likely to be revisited in the upper house when the debate begins on Tuesday.

The Legislative Council has always been expected to be harder to convince but the state government recently committed more money to palliative care services, which may appease some MPs.

First-term Liberal MP Tjorn Sibma told AAP he would support the bill, despite many of his party colleagues opposing it.

Of the 11 who voted against it in the lower house, eight were Liberals including opposition leader Liza Harvey, two were from Labor and one was a Nationals member.

Among the undecided in the upper house is Pauline Hanson's One Nation MP Colin Tinknell, who told AAP he had some non-negotiable amendments to make the laws safer, otherwise he would vote against the bill.

They include even more funding for palliative care, and ensuring doctors cannot bring up voluntary assisted dying with their patients.

He also wants the two required medical assessments to include a specialist, rather than having the possibility of two general practitioners.

Leader of the government in the Legislative Council Sue Ellery has flagged possibly sitting on Fridays to get the bill passed by the end of the year.

"Everything is on the table in terms of how we generate extra hours to make sure that everybody has enough time to scrutinise the bill," she told reporters.

"We can't rule out sitting late nights if some people hold up consideration of the bill beyond the additional hours that we start to add as soon as we can."

Premier Mark McGowan said he hoped the legislation passes in its current form.

Under the proposed laws, which includes 102 safeguards, terminally ill adults living in WA who are in pain and likely have less than six months to live - or one year if they have a neurodegenerative condition - could take a drug to end their lives or ask a doctor to do it.

Victoria is currently the only state where voluntary assisted dying is legal.