“It’s disappointing that the Disability Rights Commissioner has continued to politicise her role and is promoting misleading information prior to the End of Life Choice referendum,” says ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden.
“This morning, Paula Tesoriero appeared on Breakfast in her role as Disability Rights Commissioner to voice personal opposition to the End of Life Choice Act and misrepresented the clear safeguards within the legislation.
“While laying out her concern that there is no 'bright line' test between disability and terminal illness, Ms Tesoriero failed to acknowledge the sections of the legislation that protect people with disabilities who want no part in assisted dying, and safeguards against coercion.
“Section 5(1)(d) of the End of Life Choice Act states the person must be 'in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability.' This means that a person cannot access assisted dying because of their particular level of capability or disability, which is different for each person, but that they must be in an advanced stage of a process of declining or significantly getting worse.
“The legislation clearly states that a person is not eligible for assisted dying just because they have a disability of any kind (5(2)(b)), they must also have a terminal illness likely to end the person’s life within 6 months (5(1)(c)).
“This legislation is clearly for people suffering greatly at the end of life, not those with disabilities.
“Discussing coercion, Ms Tesoriero cited a Canadian case of a patient’s concern that their doctors raised assisted dying as an option for their care, while failing to mention that raising assisted dying as a treatment option is perfectly within Canadian law but wouldn’t be here. The Canadian law is safe but the End of Life Choice Act is even stricter and explicitly forbids a doctor or nurse from raising assisted dying as a treatment option (Section 10).
“This legislation went through the most rigorous process in parliamentary history. It is robust and safe.
“The Disability Rights Commissioner has a duty to remain impartial and uphold the level of integrity and conduct we expect from all other state servants who fall under the State Service Commissioner’s mandate, especially so during the election period.”