Hobart, Tasmania, Oct. 17 2013 ( – The Tasmanian euthanasia and assisted suicide bill was narrowly defeated this evening in Tasmania by a margin of 13:11 votes in a parliamentary marathon that came right down to the wire. The bill was co-sponsored by Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim.

Paul Russell, Director of HOPE Australia said he was more relieved than joyful.  “The tension in the chamber was palpable over both evenings that the bill was debated.  Counting down the numbers, it did not become obvious to anyone which way the vote would go until about the second to last speech.”

“Both sides inescapably find these debates draining and, as was evidenced tonight, both sides are passionate about their position,” he said.


The “no” position was strengthened at the eleventh hour yesterday by an eleven-page letter from the Tasmanian Law Society criticising 19 aspects of the bill.  The law society does not take a moral or ethical position – only a legal position.  But in their judgement the bill was unworkable.  

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Two other notable interventions referred to numerously in speeches were the letter from Lives Worth Living – a disability group opposed to euthanasia – and the submission from the Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia group. 

“It is really important that MPs not only here from constituents – which they did in good number – but also from interest groups with the expertise to clarify areas of concern,” said Russell. 

“We are told that the volumes of mail hitting MPs desks on this issue were running 80:20 in our favour. This runs contrary to the supposed 80% support in the community according to opinion polls and tells us, clearly, that support for euthanasia is, at best, soft.  Contrast that with the strong support in the contact with MPs over this debate and we get the true picture of the level of concern.” 

“We congratulate everyone who worked on the campaign against this bill over these last few years.  It was an exceptional exercise in co-operation and support from across the Tasmanian community and beyond.”