Ripon Liberal MP Louise Staley crosses floor of parliament to debate legalising assisted dying in Victoria

Ripon MP Louise Staley, who voted with the government to keep a debate going on assisted dying. Picture: PETER PICKERING.
Ripon MP Louise Staley, who voted with the government to keep a debate going on assisted dying. Picture: PETER PICKERING.

Ripon Liberal MP Louise Staley has crossed the floor of parliament to help keep debate going on legalising assisted dying in Victoria.

Victorian lower house MPs sat late into the night on Wednesday considering legislation to allow people with a terminal illness to end their own lives.

Deputy Premier James Merlino attempted to amend the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill with conditions that would have indefinitely stalled its passage through parliament.

The amendment demanded that debate on the bill cease until several concerns about the risks of assisted dying were addressed, including “inequalities in access to best practice palliative care, particularly for lower income families and in rural and regional Victoria”.

Mr Merlino, a devout Catholic and member of the socially conservative ‘Shoppies union’ Labor faction, had previously said he would vote against assisted dying.

Just after 11:20pm on Wednesday, Ms Staley joined five other coalition MPs, two Greens and two independents to help the government block the amendment by 47 votes to 39.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy had allowed a conscience vote on the issue.

Deputy Premier James Merlino, a devout Catholic who opposes legalising assisted dying. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Deputy Premier James Merlino, a devout Catholic who opposes legalising assisted dying. Photo: Wayne Taylor

The amendment’s defeat was considered by political commentators to be a good sign for the assisted dying legislation making it to the upper house, as it was effectively a rehearsal for the final vote.

Ms Staley has previously said she would likely support assisted dying legislation if it had sufficient safeguards.

Lowan Nationals MP Emma Kealy voted for Mr Merlino’s amendment, sending a strong signal that she would likely vote against the legislation itself.

Polwath Liberal MP Richard Riordan voted for the amendment while South West Coast Liberal MP Roma Britnell voted with Ms Staley.

This story Ripon MP helps keep euthanasia bill in parliament first appeared on The Stawell Times-News.