South Australian MPs were in Parliament at 4am this morning wrapping up a long debate about giving the state’s terminally ill residents the right to die.
A voluntary euthanasia bill had been vote to the committee stages in the Lower House but was knocked back early on Thursday morning when a tied 23-a-piece conscience vote was broken by Speaker Michal Atkinson who cast his vote against the bill, reports the ABC.
If passed, the Death with Dignity legislation would have allowed terminally ill adults to request voluntary euthanasia in certain circumstances.
Mr Atkinson blamed the bill’s failure to pass on SA Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall’s push to have the matter decided in the early hours of the morning.
He told 891 ABC Adelaide that the defeat was because the bill’s details were being considered by a "group of sleepless and irritable MPs for hours and hours until 4:00am".
He also said it would have likely passed if MP could have debated it over a few days.
On Wednesday the gallery was packed with both pro and anti- euthanasia campaigners who were there to witness Lower House MPs vote 27-19 to allow specific aspects of the legislation to be subject to debate.
Speaker Michael Atkinson called the move a “historic vote”.
But because the bill was defeated it will have to be revised before it can be proposed again in the Lower House.
This is the 15th attempt by state parliament to allow laws that would legalise euthanasia in South Australia.
Media identity Andrew Denton, who watched his own father die in agonising pain is a vocal campaigner for voluntary euthanasia, was also in parliament on Wednesday to witness the events.
“I think this is a bill that has had enormous consultation, MPs have had a good chance not just to look at it, but suggest amendments to address their concerns,” Denton told Nine News Adelaide, hours before MPs rejected the proposed legislation.
“This is a bill really aimed at the sensible centre of South Australian politics, which really reflects the will of the electorate.”