I'm sure South Australian MP, The Hon Bob Such, would agree that he's no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but upon the defeat of his latest euthanasia bill on the 14th of June, he boldly proclaimed that he would 're-jig' the proposal and try again.
If Such follows through on his promise, and if Steph Key MP also introduces another bill as she has also said, that would make a total of seven euthanasia bills introduced into the SA parliament since the last election in March 2010. (Is there a problem here with the word 'No'?)
Such's assertion that he would 're-jig' his bill rings hollow. When he introduced this latest attempt on the 1st of March this year, he went to great lengths to explain how this was a new-and-improved version, incorporating suggestions from a few other MPs.
It's really hard to take this all seriously: on the one hand you have an MP making 'improvements' so as to garner more possible votes while at the same time, the same MP admitting in his second reading closing speech that, "I have been criticised by some people in the voluntary euthanasia movement because my bill is so restrictive and tight...". It seems that Such can't win. Tighten the bill up so that fewer people 'qualify' (so as to get more votes) and upset your supporter base! (For a commentary on so-called 'safeguards' CLICK HERE)
It is also worth exploring what actually took place in the House of Assembly when Such brought his bill to a second reading vote. Bear in mind that, since the 1st of March 2012 when the bill was first introduced, there had been no debate whatsoever until the 14th of June when, by standing in the chamber to speak, Such closed the debate.
So, no speeches for and none against. It's hardly likely that there were no MPs wanted to address the bill, so what happened?
In South Australia any MP requesting and given leave to introduce a bill can have said bill immediately listed on the Notice Paper. In respect to the bill in question, it was listed on the notice paper at five or six from memory - certainly high enough that, if earlier items were discharged or adjourned, that some attention to this bill might have been given; that is to say some MPs may have made speeches. However, given the fact that no contributions had been made to that time, there would have been no thought, given the normal processes, of the closure of debate and subsequent vote.
The 'normal processes' also usually include the teller of the bill (Such in this case) giving notice to the government and opposition whips that he or she intends to draw the debate to a close. My sources tell me that few MPs were aware of Such's intentions. Moreover, two senior MPs who were known not to support the bill were not in the house at this time - a fact that may have been known to Such.
By any rendering, regardless of whether this situation was deliberately contrived or not, closing debate without giving MPs the opportunity to speak is not playing fair, in my opinion. Perhaps that is why those who voted No included one or two MPs who, by our information, might have been disposed to vote Yes in other circumstances. Perhaps a number of MPs still had fresh in their memories the debacle that occurred last year in the same chamber over Steph Key's bill (CLICK HERE for that story)
In any case, the result was that the bill was negatived by a vote of 22 to 20. Had all members recorded a vote, the result would likely have been 24 to 21. Close, Mr. Such - but no cigar!