Most people back VAD Bill: Punch

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
Bunbury MLA Don Punch.
Camera IconBunbury MLA Don Punch. Credit: Supplied

Bunbury MLA Don Punch says members of the Upper House need to remember 80 per cent of the State supports voluntary assisted dying, when they debate the Bill in October.

The historic Bill, which Mr Punch said was the “most important Bill” ever debated in Parliament, passed in the Lower House last week.

Since the Bill was introduced to the Lower House in August, 70 hours and 50 minutes of debate took place, and 184 clauses were considered to reach the final vote of 45 for and 11 against.

Mr Punch supported the Bill from its inception and said he believed people needed to have a choice in how they ended their lives.

“From coroners reports we know that one in 10 suicides are people who have terminal illness and don’t want palliative care options,” Mr Punch said.

“They are doing it in often traumatic circumstances … many people have said they want to put their affairs in order and die with dignity.”

Mr Punch said the debate was a respectful but personal one for every member involved.

“I don’t think there is a single member that hasn’t been touched by these issues in some shape or form,” he said.

“My first wife passed away and I’m not sure that under this Bill she would be eligible, but I saw her suffer well beyond what might have been bearable for her and I was quite young and it left a lasting impression.”

Members of the Legislative Assembly debated through late nights and early hours into the morning. The legislation goes to the Upper House in mid-October.

“People are saying the numbers are tight in the Upper House and there are strongly held views on both sides of the debate,” Mr Punch said.

“I hope that it is reviewed properly and effectively so it can move through the Upper House and reach a decision because that’s what the community wants.

“I hope members respect the view of around 80 per cent in support for the Bill Statewide.”

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