Victorian euthanasia laws: Right-to-die vote to play critical role in next state election

by: Matt Johnston, State politics editor, Herald Sun

VOLUNTARY euthanasia is likely to play a critical role at the next state election, as opponents of the government’s proposed new laws prepare a co-ordinated campaign in Labor-held marginal seats. 

Anti-euthanasia groups will canvass voters in Frankston, Carrum, Mordialloc and Bentleigh, after conducting private polling they say shows the reforms could be a “vote loser” for the government.

A robocall will begin the campaign to sway voters and convince undecided MPs to reject the draft laws when they go before state parliament later in the year.

According to the pollsters, who told the Herald Sun they did not want to be named, the poll of 1029 people showed that though a majority favoured voluntary euthanasia, only 14 per cent of them said it would drive their vote.

But of the people who opposed voluntary euthanasia, 33 per cent said that the issue would drive their vote.

The pollsters say they found that support for the laws within the Indian and broader Asian community was at less than 20 per cent.

Premier Daniel Andrews has said his government would introduce laws that allow terminally ill people in pain to end their lives, should they get the approval of two doctors and meet safeguards.

The Premier and Health Minister Jill Hennessy have said that most Victorians favour legislative change to help people in pain, and it was time to act.

But director of the euthanasia prevention group Hope, Paul Russell, said there was “significant disquiet” about the law reforms.

“The research shows that once people gain an understanding of what this is all about, and get beyond the ­euphemisms used by the Andrews Government, support drops away significantly and concern escalates,” he said.

Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, said: “We reject in the strongest possible terms any assisted dying legislation legalising ­euthanasia.”

According to the polling results more broadly, Labor has its neck in front of the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis, 51 to 49 per cent.

But Mr Andrews is on the nose with voters, registering a net favourability rating of minus 19 per cent.

The government seats that are the targets of anti-­euthanasia groups are held by Labor by margins of between 0.48 per cent and 2.1 per cent.

The fate of those seats is likely to play a big role in deciding who wins next year’s state election.

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