Parliamentary debate over Victoria’s historic assisted dying laws, which lasted more than 24 hours, has been suspended after a Labor MP had a medical emergency and was taken away in an ambulance.
The Upper House began debating the 141 clauses that make up the legislation at 9:30am on Thursday, and continued overnight and into this morning.
But it was suspended just before 10:30am after Daniel Mulino, who was not in the chamber at the time, became unwell.
He fell ill just moments after the Coalition’s David Davis unsuccessfully asked for the sitting to be reviewed.
Mr Davis had expressed concern for the welfare of MPs, who had been up all night.
Mr Mulino represents the Eastern Victoria Region, with his office based in Pakenham.
Fellow Labor MP Jaclyn Symes later told Parliament that Mr Mulino had reported that he was OK.
The debate was scheduled to resume today. Mr Mulino — who opposes the bill — was to be “paired” with an MP that supports the bill, who would abstain from voting.
However, after advice was sought from the clerks, the debate was postponed until next Tuesday.
It had reached clause nine of 141.
Earlier, when he was asked about the length of time MPs had been sitting, Premier Daniel Andrews said it was important to “get this done”.
It took 12 hours to make it past the bill’s first clause, which was held up by lengthy arguments about amendments and adjournments.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy criticised Opposition critics for holding up debate on the bill, that would give some terminally ill patients the right to seek a doctor-assisted death.
“At this rate, it will take 37 days for the rest of the clauses to be considered,” she said this morning.
“This has been a piece of reform that has been debated and considered for over two-and-a-half years.
“I think delay tactics and deferral tactics by those who oppose the reform will not be welcomed by the Victorian community.”
Factcheck tweet: Assisted dying laws have been debated in the NSW & Vic parls this week. Here’s Del Irani with the facts on the ‘slippery slope’
The legislation managed to pass the Lower House last month after a 26-hour debate, but required significant changes from the Andrews Government to have a chance of securing the 21 votes needed in the Upper House.
Victoria would become the first state in Australia to legalise assisted dying if the bill was passed.
Liberal MPs opposing the laws accused Labor of trying to gag the debate by trying to bring on a vote after the first clause was debated.
“This Government wants to shut it down in 12 hours, but is happy to take a life with the click of a finger,” Liberal Inga Peulich said.
But Ms Hennessy said the Opposition’s tactics were only harming those who would benefit from assisted dying.
“Ultimately, this is a reform about having a good life and having a good death, and the bitter irony of the Upper House delay tactics at the moment is people with a terminal illness can’t afford to waste a minute,” she said.
“So let the will of the Parliament prevail and, in my view, let the will of the Victorian community prevail.”
The key change the Government has made to win crucial votes is to shorten the eligibility timeframe.
Under the original bill, a person could become eligible if they were expected to die within 12 months, but that timeframe has been shortened to six months.
To qualify for assisted dying, a person would also need to be over the age of 18, of sound mind, have lived in Victoria for at least 12 months, and be suffering in a way that “cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable”.
In NSW, a similarly protracted debate ended with the defeat of that state’s proposed euthanasia legislation overnight.
The bill, which would have allowed terminally ill patients over the age of 25 to end their own lives with the help of doctors, failed to pass the Upper House by one vote.
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