The execrable Jane Hume

By September 30, 2022Australian Politics, Society

All Australian states have passed voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legislation. Victoria’s and Western Australia’s VAD laws have commenced operation. VAD will commence in Tasmania on 23 October 2022, South Australia on 31 January 2023, Queensland on 1 January 2023, and New South Wales on 28 November 20231.

VAD is legal in Victoria under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic)1, and at the time of its introduction, all sorts of lies were put about by the Australian Christian Lobby in an effort to stop the legislation being passed2. Fortunately, these lies seemingly failed to impress all but the religious nutters in the Coalition.

In 1995, the Northern Territory (NT) introduced the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, but with the election of the federal Coalition government under John Howard in 1996, a ban was enacted to prevent the NT and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) legalising voluntary euthanasia. The ban (the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997; also known as the ‘Andrews bill’3) was introduced and championed by Liberal religious nutter Kevin Andrews, now fortunately no longer in parliament.

In March of 2021, the governments of the NT and ACT wrote to senior ministers of the then Coalition government under Scott Morrison requesting that the Andrews bill be repealed. That request was denied by then Attorney-General Michaelia Cash3.

With the change in federal government in May of 2022, things have changed for the better. In early August 2022, a conscience vote in the House of Representatives, on legislation to overturn the Andrews bill, passed convincingly with 99 for and 37 against. Several Coalition MPs, including Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton, deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley voted to overturn the Andrews bill. Those voting against doing so included former PM Morrison, Barnaby Joyce, Alan Tudge, as well as current Labor government Minister Tony Burke4.

There have been numerous attempts to overturn Andrews’ Euthanasia Laws Act 1997 but only one of these, the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015, which was put forward by Senator David Leyonhjelm ever got to a vote. It was defeated in a division on the second reading5. Senator Jane Hume voted against it, and spoke in the senate. She started off with a furphy, that the Leyonhjelm bill would not provide specific safeguards against people being “guilted into” ending their lives. I say this is a furphy because this bill’s aim was simply to repeal the Andrews’ bill. It would be up to the NT and the ACT to provide the safeguards in their legislation (as have been included in the states’ VAD legislation), which the Andrews’ bill banned. Another furphy from Hume was that the governments of the NT and ACT are unicameral (as is Queensland), and because they do not have a ‘house of review’, could not be trusted6. Hume also includes much of the same sorts of lies regarding VAD in other parts of the world6, as those put about by the ACL in their attempt to derail the legislation in Victoria2.

To cap it all off, Hume said that because the NT and ACT only have self-government by virtue of acts of the commonwealth parliament, they therefore do not have the same rights as the states. I would have thought that the clue was in the term ‘self-government’, that people in these jurisdictions would be allowed to make up their own mind whether they wanted access to VAD. As I say above, Hume voted to reject the Leyonhjelm bill7.

Recently Hume’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and despite being a devout Catholic, availed himself of the VAD legislation to end his life. In an emotional speech in parliament, Hume stated she had changed her views about VAD. In this speech, she stated: “We say in this place, when we make a decision, that we will walk a mile in another man’s shoes. … Well, I have certainly done that -having experienced it having lived it, having held the hand of a person that I deeply loved”8. Like most of what Hume utters, this too is nonsense. ‘Walking a mile in another’s shoes’ is about understanding what others, whom you have never met, are going through or are likely to go through, not understanding something only when it affects you personally. How many people in the territories had to suffer longer than they needed to, just because Jane Hume and her bogus arguments with her Coalition colleagues denied them access to VAD.

I understand the emotion at Hume’s loss of her father, as I lost mine almost 20 years ago and still miss him. I would love to be able to talk to him again. However, I cannot excuse someone like Hume, as they are quite happy to use people’s lives as political footballs, until it affects them personally. That is the antithesis of ‘walking a mile in another’s shoes’.



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