Politicians from both sides of politics have criticized Northern Territory Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price for voting against a bill which would allow the NT government to make laws on euthanasia.
Senator Price has cited yet-to-be-drafted amendments and distrust of the NT Government as her reasons for voting against the bill
Her CLP predecessor, Dr. Sam McMahon, described the move as an “outrageous act of betrayal”
The bill looks set to pass next week without Senator Price’s support
The Country Liberal Party (CLP) senator has turned against his own party’s long-standing policy platform to cast a provisional vote against the Territory Rights Bill in the Federal Parliament.
The bill, which looks set to pass after a final vote next week, would overturn a quarter-century-old veto barring the NT and ACT governments from voting on whether to allow voluntary assisted dying in their jurisdictions.
Territory Rights bill does not legalize voluntary assisted dying in NT.
Senator Price said she wanted to see coalition amendments yet to be drawn up before the final vote, which she said were needed to protect children and young people.
“There are just a few provisions that I think need to be considered,” Senator Price told ABC Radio Darwin on Friday morning.
“For example, protecting children under 18 in terms of euthanasia – that’s what the amendment will be designed around.”
She also cited her distrust of the current NT government as a reason to vote against the bill, pointing to Labor’s handling of the abrupt end to remote alcohol prohibition, which has responded to a rise in alcohol-related violence and injuries.
Senator Price said her position on the bill may have been different if the CLP were in power in the NT.
“Absolutely, I would trust them more to do the right thing to consult the communities,” she said.
Current and former politicians lash out with delays
Current and former NT politicians have criticized the senator’s move, claiming she has gone against the wishes of the majority of territories and her own party.
Sam McMahon, who sat in the Senate in the last term of parliament for the CLP and then as an independent, branded his successor’s decision “an outrageous act of betrayal”.
“This is nothing short of an act of outright betrayal by a self-centered individual who does not and will never have the interests of the Territorians at heart,” said Dr. McMahon in a statement.
“Her stance is at odds with the CLP’s policy stance and clearly shows that they treat Territories with absolute contempt.”
NT Police Minister Kate Worden described the choice to vote against the bill as “disgusting”.
“Absolutely shame on Jacinta Price,” Ms Worden said.
“She is a voice for the Northern Territory, she should stand up for our rights to make our own decisions.
“I am completely appalled that she has no capacity to think beyond herself and her self-interest and the Eastern Seaboard.”
Regardless of Senator Price’s vote, the territorial rights bill looks set to pass next week, with the result of the preliminary vote on Thursday showing 41 in favor and 25 against.
Price clarifies the reasons in a later statement
In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Senator Price said she continued to support “the rights of Territorians, all Territorians”.
She said it was her “duty as a senator to ensure that this bill will protect the human rights of children in accordance with the UN Convention on the Human Rights of the Child, along with vulnerable territories with a disability or mental impairment”.
“My decision to vote against the second reading of the bill in its current form was to allow for changes to be made to the bill that will maintain these rights and improve the bill in its current form,” she said.
She did not specify whether she would vote for the bill if such changes were made, but suggested she did not think it went far enough.
“I note that there is nothing in this bill which advances my long-term goal of de facto equivalent rights to statehood and full autonomy for the territory from the Commonwealth,” she said.
Senator Price’s mother, Bess Price, was Minister of State in the previous NT government.