Independent Senator for the ACT, Senator David Pocock, has welcomed the passing of the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022 and has thanked the ACT and Northern Territory communities for their tenacious advocacy in driving this forward over 25 years.
The bill passed “on the voices” in the Senate Chamber at 7.48 pm.
“This has been a hard journey for so many in our community, who have been working for a quarter of a century to overturn the Andrews Bill,” said Senator Pocock.
“Tonight, this 47th parliament finally got the job done and now a quarter-century long injustice has been righted for the people of the ACT and NT.
“This is an historic moment, and is owed to thousands of people in our communities who have refused to let this fall off the national agenda.
“Issues of conscience so often bring out the best in our Parliament and our community. This has been no exception. I would like to thank my territory colleagues, including Senator Katy Gallagher, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Andrew Leigh MP, Alicia Payne MP, David Smith MP, Marion Scrymgour MP and Luke Gosling MP. Finally, our constituents have the same rights as those living just outside our borders.
“I thank the former NT Chief Minister Marshall Perron, who oversaw the development of the NT Rights of Terminally Ill Act, and has been a tireless campaigner for voluntary assisted dying ever since.
“I also want to thank the staff at the Canberra Times, who have never let this issue slip from the attention of decision-makers in Parliament.
“I thank the Greens, who have been driving this in Parliament for two decades. Thank you for your continued advocacy for those of us living in territories.
“I want to thank the many people in our community who have individually, persistently and passionately kept this conversation going.
“In particular, I want to thank Sam Whitsed and Kate Fisher, two people who have courageously and generously stood up to call for change.
“Dignity, freedom and choice shouldn’t end at the borders we draw on a map. We are all Australians and we all deserve the same democratic rights.
“I’m glad we got it right in the Senate tonight during what was a very respectful debate and an emotional result.
“Our community in the ACT can now start having the conversation on whether a voluntary assisted dying scheme is right for us. I look forward to the ACT Legislative Assembly leading that discussion, drawing on diverse voices and asking the right questions on whether it is appropriate for our community and what safeguards should be considered.”