Two MPs have broken down in tears during an emotional debate about controversial new laws in NSW.
A landmark bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying in NSW has the numbers to pass the parliament’s lower house – but supporters fear opposing MPs will “ambush” them and derail the process.
On Thursday, the third day of debate, the “yes” side counted 50 votes to the opposing side’s 27.
It was another day of deeply personal speeches, from a Liberal MP whose voice quivered with emotion while she reflected on her father’s last days, to a Labor MP who urged “Baby Boomers” to get with the times and behind the bill.
The broad support means backers have comfortably cleared the 47-vote threshold to send the bill to the upper house.
A lower house vote could be held as soon as 5pm.
Assuming the supporters prevail, MPs will immediately proceed to discussing amendments to the bill.
That’s the point at which supporters fear an ambush awaits, according to lobby group Dying with Dignity.
“When the opponents see they don’t have the numbers, instead of accepting that they start throwing in hundreds of amendments with the sole purpose of either delaying the bill or making it much more difficult to access,” the group’s Shayne Higson said.
Liberal MP Kevin Connolly has so far submitted the most amendments.
But the Riverstone MP, who will vote no, said his 59 amendments were not designed to stall the bill, but rather to improve it.
“The amendments I’m moving are designed to improve and strengthen the safeguards to minimise the risks that I see for vulnerable people,” he told NCA NewsWire.
Mr Connolly also said he didn’t mind if the process took a long time.
“When you get a bill this complicated … it naturally takes some time to work through. That’s not unusual, and it’s not unhealthy – in fact, it’s a good thing,” he said.
One of the MPs who spoke on Thursday was Liberal MP Leslie Williams, who became emotional when she spoke about her father’s death.
“Yes, I miss my dad and it still hurts but I am so very, very thankful that I didn’t see him suffer,” the Port Macquarie MP said.
“I didn’t see him in the hospital during those last few days of his life. And I am so thankful that I only have treasured memories that I can hold close and never let go – beautiful memories not damaged by suffering or by torment.”
Another Liberal, Terrigal MP Adam Crouch, cried as he spoke about personal losses he suffered.
Labor MP Ron Hoenig began his speech by declaring himself a rebellious Baby Boomer who grew up fighting for just causes.
“When they had short back and sides, we had hair down to our shoulders and long sideburns – we were the generation of protests,” he said.
“The Baby Boomer generation has taken a lot of people along a pretty long journey and voluntary assisted dying is the next step along that journey.”
It’s expected the amendment process will continue until 10pm and resume again on Friday morning.
Friday is the state parliament’s final sitting day of the year.
If passed, the high-profile Bill, introduced by independent MP Alex Greenwich, would make NSW the final Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
MPs from both Labor and the government have been permitted to vote as they please.