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Gaffney responds to VAD review

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Mersey Independent MLC Mike Gaffney has welcomed a University of Tasmania review of his voluntary assisted dying legislation, which is due to be debated in the House of Assembly next week.

The expert panel, summoned by Premier Gutwein late last year, has found the laws have among the "most rigorous" safeguards in the world.

"The Tasmanian VAD Bill has numerous provisions to protect individuals and to ensure that access is limited to people who are medically eligible and are acting voluntarily and free from coercion," the four-person panel wrote.

It did however make 5 suggested amendments:

- Replace the fifth and final eligibility assessment with a consent check

- Clarify what was expected of facilities like religious aged care homes that did not want to participate in allowing access to VAD

- Provide legislative protections against professional discrimination for health practitioners

- Allow health practitioners to choose whether they were listed on a register

- Make it obligatory for health practitioners who do not want to provide VAD to refer patients to someone who will

"The advice raises more questions than answers, and many people will be surprised to find how a bill so problematic was ever described as safe and strong," conservative senior minister Michael Ferguson said on Monday evening, just hours after his leader, who's in favour of the reforms, put out a press release welcoming the findings.

"Those of us who have been constantly warning that the bill has been rushed and poorly drafted feel satisfied that the advice from Health, Justice and Police departments has been done and publicly released. This advice confirms our responsible position, along with the AMA, that laws to permit Physician Assisted Suicide must be approached with huge caution," Mr Ferguson went on. 

But speaking on Tasmania Talks on Tuesday, Mr Gaffney disagreed.

"I respect his views, I just don't agree with them.The basis of our parliament is if there's an issue you have to work on that issue to amend the bill to make certain that it satisfies what the community wants. And I'm sure Mr Ferguson would agree that nearly 85% of our community is in favour of voluntary assisted dying. And I hope he takes that into consideration when he votes next week." 

Liberal members in the Lower House will be allowed a conscience vote. 

Department heads have estimated the euthanasia scheme would cost about $2.4 million per year to administer. 

"I'm assuming that's on board with what's happening in WA and Victoria. Obviously that side of the assessment is outside of my purview because that would be a government task how they implement and manage the bill once it gets through. All I can say is that's reasonable and I have no issue with the expense because from my point of view, this bill is all about the person and making sure they don't suffer," Mr Gaffney said.