Voluntary Euthanasia Party

The Voluntary Euthanasia Party is a minor political party in Australia, founded in early 2013 by Corey McCann to advocate for legislative change to allow voluntary euthanasia in Australia. The party's inception was strongly supported by Dr Philip Nitschke, director of Exit International and Richard Mills, then President of Dying with Dignity NSW.

The VEP applied to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to be registered as a political party on 10 May 2013 and was registered on 1 June.[1]

History

The party was founded in 2013 to bring attention to the need for voluntary assisted dying law reform and to bring together advocates from the Dying with Dignity and Exit International movements. The immediate goal of the VEP was to make voluntary euthanasia a central issue at the September 2013 Federal election.

Executive committee

Professor Ranjan Ray, former President of the Western Australia Voluntary Euthanasia Society, was the first convenor of the Party, and was succeeded by Kerry Bromson in Octobet 2014. Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, was the Deputy Convenor until October 2016, followed by Kym Buckley (2016-2017), and Shayne Higson (2017-2019). The Party Secretaries have been Corey McCann (2013-2015), Sandi Steep (2015-2016), David Mahoney (2016–2017), Sue Inglis (2018), Julie Hanley (2018-2019). The Party Treasurers have been Jane Stabb (2013-2015), Justin Templer (2015-2016), Sandi Steep (2016-2019)

Definitions

There is no universally agreed definition of "voluntary euthanasia". Terms like dying with dignity, physician-assisted dying, physician-assisted suicide and voluntary assisted dying are also used. The VEP regards voluntary euthanasia as involving a request by a terminally or incurably ill person for medical assistance to end his or her life painlessly and peacefully. A doctor may administer the medication or prescribe medication that the patient self-administers.

Election campaigns

The VEP have participated in six Australian elections. They have not won any seats, though have increased their percentage of votes at each re-contested election.

Federal

The VEP nominated seven candidates at the 2013 Australian federal election: six candidates for the Senate (two each in New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory); and a candidate for the House of Representatives seat of Solomon in the Northern Territory.[2] Three of the candidates were terminally ill.[3] The VEP received 21,854 first preference votes in the Senate (0.16% of votes), while the sole House of Representatives candidate received 597 votes.[4][5]

The VEP nominated seven candidates at the 2016 Australian federal election: six candidates for the Senate (two each in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria); and a candidate for the House of Representatives seat of Menzies in Victoria.[6] The VEP received 23,252 first preference votes in the Senate (0.17% of votes), while the sole House of Representatives candidate received 973 votes.[7][8]

The VEP will not run any candidates in the 2019 Australian federal election, rather they will focus on canvasing the views of major candidates in key electorates.

Victorian state elections

The VEP fielded ten candidates in five Victorian Legislative Council regions at the 2014 Victorian state election on 29 November 2014. The lead candidate was Dr Fiona Stewart, public health sociologist and co-author of four books about end of life issues including The Peaceful Pill Handbook.[9][10] The VEP received 16,772 first preference votes (0.49% of votes).[11]

The VEP fielded sixteen candidates in eight Victorian Legislative Council regions at the 2018 Victorian state election on 24 November 2018. The VEP received 42,611 first preference votes (1.19% of votes).[12]

New South Wales state elections

The VEP stood sixteen candidates for the New South Wales Legislative Council in the 2015 New South Wales state election on 28 March 2015. The lead candidate was Shayne Higson. Higson began advocating for voluntary assisted dying legislation after her mother died from a brain tumour in 2012.[13] The VEP received 40,710 votes (0.94% of votes).[14]

The VEP stood sixteen candidates for the New South Wales Legislative Council in the 2019 New South Wales state election on 23 March 2019. Shayne Higson resumed her role as lead candidate.[15] The VEP received 46,971 votes (1.06% of votes).[16] Higson finished in 26th place out of 364 candidates; seats were awarded to those who finished in the top 21 places.

References

  1. ^ Application for registration approved – Voluntary Euthanasia Party, Australian Electoral Commission, 1 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Voluntary Euthanasia Party bids for Senate seats". SBS News. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  3. ^ Di Stefano, Mark (19 August 2013). "Voluntary Euthanasia Party is born". ABC News. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  4. ^ "First Preferences By Party". Australian Electoral Commission. 2013. Archived from the original on 23 February 2018.
  5. ^ "First Preferences By Group". Australian Electoral Commission. 2013. Archived from the original on 23 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Candidates for the 2016 federal election". Australian Electoral Commission. 12 June 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  7. ^ "First preferences by party". Australian Electoral Commission. 2016. Archived from the original on 29 December 2018.
  8. ^ "First preferences by Senate group". Australian Electoral Commission. 2016. Archived from the original on 13 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Voluntary Euthanasia Professional – Doctor Fiona Stewart". Peacefulpillhandbook.com. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  10. ^ Dovey, Ceridwen. "Philip Nitschke's wife, Fiona Stewart, on being the 'woman behind the man'". The Saturday Paper. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  11. ^ "State Election 2014 results". Victorian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014.
  12. ^ "State Election 2018 results". Victorian Electoral Commission. 2018. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019.
  13. ^ Caddy, Amelia. "Shayne helpless in the face of mother's suffering". The Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  14. ^ "First Preference Group Votes - Check Count Complete". New South Wales Electoral Commission. 2015. Archived from the original on 17 August 2018.
  15. ^ "New South Wales 2019 Election - Legislative Council – Ballot Paper" (PDF). NSW Electoral Commission. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Legislative Council Check Count Statewide Summary". New South Wales Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 25 April 2019.

External links