X-Message-Number: 6394
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 08:01:49 -0700
From: David Brandt-Erichsen <>
Subject: New threat to Australia law

>From The Age, Melbourne, July 27


The Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, yesterday strongly opposed the Northern
Territory euthanasia legislation, and left the way open for Federal
Parliament to block the plan. Federal Cabinet will meet next week to discuss
the possibility of Canberra overriding the legislation that would allow
euthanasia to be practised in the territory from 1 July. Mr Howard is
believed to have ruled out direct intervention by the Federal Government,
but indicated yesterday that he would permit a conscience vote among
coalition MPs if one of them proposed a private member's bill to overturn
the NT plan. Several coalition MPs opposed to the NT legislation have vowed
to introduce private member's bills in the House of Representatives seeking
to override it if a legal challenge fails. Opponents say potential for
Canberra to veto the legislation is contained in section 122 of the
Constitution, which allows the Federal Government to make laws for the
territories. Mr Howard, while ruling out direct legislative action by the
Federal Government, said it would move for the High Court to take over a
challenge to the NT laws. The challenge is now taking place in the NT
Supreme Court. He told a joint party room meeting of coalition MPs he was
"personally strongly opposed" to the NT plan and he expected the High Court
to decide finally on the legality of the world-first legislation. The
Northern Territory's Chief Minister, Mr Shane Stone, reacted angrily to
yesterday's developments, and said that any attempt to override a territory
law would be resisted. He said he had "deep concerns about the integrity" of
the territory legal system if the issues were removed to the High Court. Mr
Stone is also an opponent of euthanasia, but said he would abide by the will
of the Parliament when it passed the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in May
last year.

 <David Brandt-Erichsen>

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