The South Australian State Election was held on Saturday the 15th of March. No clear winner emerged on the night and, five days later, neither the Liberal Party nor Labor have been able to secure a majority of seats in the 47 Member House of Assembly. (Labor has 23 seats and the Liberals 22 - both need 24 to form government)
Both party leaders have been actively courting the support of the state's two independent MPs, Port Pirie's Geoff Brock and the perennial mover of euthanasia legislation, Member for Fisher, The Hon Bob Such MP.
An article in today's edition of The Australian (behind paywall) newspaper has attempted to stir into the mix of these negotiations the issue of euthanasia. To be quite honest, the article is a thinly veiled beat up and appears to have been written at the behest of Exit International's Phillip Nitschke. It is very short on detail.
It says that Nitschke tried to phone Such:
Philip Nitschke, who runs a euthanasia clinic in suburban Adelaide, said Dr Such’s position had created a great opportunity for legislative change in South Australia.
Dr Nitschke, who is also running for the Senate in Western Australia, called Dr Such yesterday to discuss pushing the issue in his negotiations with both Liberal and Labor.
“It puts us in a very important position and I’m pleased Dr Such will be able to exercise significant influence,” he said.
“We’ll ask him to put the voluntary euthanasia position to both sides of government.”
Whilst the above suggests that Nitschke and Such had the above conversation, the very next sentence admits that Such has not returned either Nitschke's or The Australian's phone calls. So, we really don't know if Such is making a pitch with euthanasia or not. All we know is that Nitschke thinks he should. Mind shattering!
As mentioned, Such has form. As The Australian pointed out, he has personally introduced at least nine euthanasia bills in recent years. But whether or not he would horse trade support for either the Liberals or Labor on this issue and whether or not either party leader would entertain such a deal is mere speculation.
MPs have a conscience vote on contentious issues such as euthanasia. Neither party leader could offer to bind his party to support a bill. All that a leader could offer is to make time available for debate on any future bill. And it is quite possible that Such might consider this given the fact that his two bills in the last parliament were not debated in full. There are precedents for this and only time will tell whether the lure of government will see either party leader buckle under the pressure.
What we do know is that the SA Parliament appears less likely, on balance, to support euthanasia legislation given the changes that have occurred due to changes in MPs due to retirement or loss of their seats. But, of course, this factor alone is not likely to stop Such or the Greens Party in the upper house from trying.
What part of: "NO, this simply isn't safe" don't they understand?
Post script: Tasmanians went to the polls on the same day. The parties of pro-euthanasia leaders Lara Giddings and Nick McKim (Labor & Greens) were decimated, handing the election to anti-euthanasia Liberal Leader Will Hodgman and also returning a stronger majority of MPs opposing such legislation.