I rise to make a contribution to the debate on this important discussion today. I was not going to speak on this matter because when I first looked at the motion I saw it more as dealing with the mechanics of the situation and not necessarily the substance of the matter contained within. I do, however, accept that there are some people in the chamber and in our community who see even the mechanical motion that is before us today as a point of principle that goes to the heart of the issue that we are dealing with. I certainly do not want to prosecute an argument this afternoon that is either for or against the matter at hand. As I said, I do not necessarily want to speak about the substance of the issue.
My message to the house today is that I believe this issue needs to be more fully discussed. I do not believe it will go away. Given the ageing of our community, I imagine this will continue to be an issue of real substance for all parliaments around the world. However, this is not just an issue for parliaments around the world; it is also an issue for our communities and for individuals. It asks us to have a very serious dialogue with ourselves regarding how we feel about the way we are going to depart this life. If we really want to think about it, it also informs us about how we judge and relate to other people who are particularly important in our lives, whether it be family members or friends. There is also the issue of trust that we place in the medical profession.
I believe there must be another mechanism through which we can have a full and wideranging discussion within our community. When I think of how communities are judged, it is often about how community members engage with each other. For example, the Betrayal of Trust report was a real test not only in terms of us making a judgement about ourselves and the outcome of that inquiry but also in terms of how we engaged with each other, came up with recommendations and put them into practice. I want to make sure we take a similar inclusive approach to this issue.
The other thing that shone through the process of the inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations was that there was a real affirmation of our humanity to each other. If we can go through a process similar to that and come through it with that same sense of humanity, then I think regardless of what position we might take with respect to dying with dignity, we will benefit in the long term.
I believe there is enough research on this issue and that there has been significant progress made in terms of the arguments that have been promulgated on it. I accept and acknowledge that this is a potentially polarising issue, but I believe we need to face it head-on and work our way through what is a difficult situation for a whole range of people. It will be particularly difficult for those people who are advocating for a way people can leave this life with dignity as opposed to those who hold the absolute sanctity of life at the core of their essence.
There are a number of emotional value issues that everyone should have the opportunity to discuss. The motion before us today seeks to refer this issue to the Victorian Law Reform Commission. This is a little too narrow from my perspective. My preference would be for a whole range of people to have the opportunity to come and put their views forward and document their experiences in this arena. I think it is important that we hear from those who are close to this issue, whether it is someone who has held the hand of a loved one as they have left this earth or someone who has seen a person very close to them in chronic pain every day and night of their life, with no amount of medication able to soothe them. The impact this has not only on the person in chronic pain but also on the loved ones around them also needs to be taken into account.
I admit I came in here this afternoon aiming to be altruistic on this issue. However, I think we should have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are up to having a debate and to respectfully engage with each other both here and in the community so that we can bring something back which has been tested and which has significant support. That way ultimately we will be able to progress this issue and not have to deal with it again for some time. That is the end of my contribution today. I hope we can work our way through this.