The Australian Senate Thursday passed the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022, giving the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Northern Territory (NT) the option to make their own legislation on voluntary assisted dying (VAD). The bill marks the end of a 25-year campaign to restore these territory rights.The ability to make laws on VAD was prevented in these territories by restrictions legislated through the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 and the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978. Removing the restrictions does not make VAD legal in these territories but gives the respective Legislative Assemblies the power to pass laws permitting VAD. ACT and NT may join the six Australian states that already have legislation on VAD.The ACT attempted to legalise VAD in 1993 through a bill that was never passed, and in 1995 the NT passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act, the first bill in the world to allow VAD. However, the legislation was overturned in 1997 when the Commonwealth parliament introduced the Euthanasia Laws Act, preventing the NT to legislate in this area. The Bill passed Thursday is the tenth attempt at regaining these right, as nine prospective bills have failed previously.The ACT is set to debate VAD law in 2023 or 2024, taking at least a year to pass any legislation. The NT has not yet stated any plans for future legislation.
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