Conscience votes in the federal Parliament
Posted 9/11/2010 by Deirdre McKeown
On 29 September 2010 the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Bob Brown, introduced the Restoring Territory Rights (Voluntary Euthanasia Legislation) Bill 2010 into the Senate. All political parties have granted their senators and members a conscience vote on this legislation. This is the first conscience vote in the federal parliament since the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Bill was debated in 2006.
A Parliamentary Library Research Paper
has more details on conscience votes during the Howard Government and a list of conscience votes in the federal parliament from 1950.
In his second reading speech
Senator Brown outlined the objectives of his current bill:
The first is to recognise the rights of the legislative assemblies of the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island to make laws for the peace, order and good government of their territories, including the right to legislate for voluntary euthanasia. Secondly, and more directly, the bill repeals the Euthanasia Laws Act 1997, the Andrews act, which removed the right of the territories to legislate on voluntary euthanasia.
The Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996 was debated in the House of Representatives in 1996 and the Senate in 1997. It passed both Houses. The party and gender voting patterns on this bill are as follows:
Click on the table to enlarge. The table can also be found on page 21 in the Research Paper.
Of the senators and members in Parliament when the Euthanasia Laws Bill 1996 was debated, 35 members and 22 senators remain in the Parliament today. Of these, 26 members voted for the Bill or indicated support for it, eight voted against it and one member did not speak or vote on the Bill. In the Senate 15 senators voted for the Bill, while seven voted against.
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