Voluntary assisted dying is now legal in NSW after MPs vote in favour of euthanasia laws

NSW has officially become the last state in Australia to allow terminally ill people to choose when they die.

The state’s upper house passed a bill legalising voluntary assisted dying following a long debate on Thursday.

The legislation received 23 votes in favour and 15 against after members debated almost 100 late amendments through to midnight on Wednesday and again Thursday morning.

Both the Labor and Liberal parties allowed members to vote as they pleased on the bill, meaning opinions were not split down party lines.

The law brings NSW in line with all other states in legalising voluntary assisted dying for people in the final stages of a terminal illness and those who are experiencing suffering that cannot be alleviated by palliative care.

To be eligible, the person must be aged 18 years or older and be an Australian citizen.

They must be likely to die from a disease within six months, or a year in the case of a neurodegenerative disease or condition, which is causing suffering that cannot be relieved.

The person must be found to have capacity to make the decision for themselves and must be acting voluntarily without pressure.

It is also required that their eligibility must be assessed by two medical practitioners.

Shayne Higson from advocacy group Dying with Dignity told Sunrise she was “so grateful” terminally ill NSW residents would now have a say in when and how they die.

“They now have a choice, they can choose the time and place of their death, they die in peaceful surroundings, surrounded by their loved ones,” she said on Thursday.

The legislation is likely to be supported by the majority of the community, with a recent poll conducted by Go Gentle Australia indicating three quarters of NSW residents support dying people accessing all legal medical treatment options within their own home, including aged care facilities.

Independent MP for Sydney and architect of the legislation, Alex Greenwich, had been hopeful the bill would finally pass after years of campaigning.

“Today is a really important day in NSW,” he said on Wednesday.

“We hope that by the end of it people with cruel and advanced terminal illnesses will have the same end-of-life care offerings as people in every other state.”

The legislation will not come into effect for about 18 months.

Scott Morrison drew a line on Thursday, refusing to allow the ACT and Northern Territory the right to legalise voluntary assisted dying.

Labor has pledged to prioritise a parliamentary debate on the issue if it wins government after Saturday’s federal election.

“That’s not our policy,” the prime minister said in northern Tasmania on Thursday.

“There are differences between territories and states and that is under our constitution and we’re not proposing any changes.”

The former Howard coalition government overrode euthanasia laws passed by the NT Assembly 25 years ago.

Since then, all Australian states have now approved laws allowing voluntary assisted dying.