Independent Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has backed calls by NSW Government Members for a ‘free vote’ on Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation that will be introduced by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich in the October sitting of Parliament.
“This issue is clearly a matter of conscience. The last time this matter was debated, MPs were permitted a conscience vote,” Mr Ward said.
“The Premier has committed to no ‘new’ conscience votes. This is not a new issue and should be debated freely by Members.
“Next month, I will be releasing an electorate-wide survey on this issue to hear the views and feedback from my local community.
“Since becoming an MP, I have constantly surveyed my community on important issues. Community consultation should never start and stop with Election Day and I will never presume to know what our community thinks on every issue.
“You have one mouth and two ears and they should be used in that same ratio.
“I appreciate there are deeply held views on each side of this debate. Unlike some MPs that have previously abstained on this issue, I will listen to my community and then reflect these views on the flood of the Parliament. I wasn’t elected to Parliament to ‘abstain’.
“Many will have mixed emotions about this debate, but it is important that Members of Parliament make clear their ultimate position in the interests of transparency and accountability.
“This week, I signed a letter with other Independent colleagues calling for additional time on the floor of the House to debate this issue. I believe numerous Members of Parliament will want to speak to this Bill and the Parliament should be afforded the opportunity to discuss this issue with care and sensitivity.
“I call on all Members of Parliament to have this debate in a respectful, dignified and intelligent way. Our community deserves nothing less,” Mr Ward concluded.