I've been preoccupied with the Pope's UK trip of late, but meanwhile back in Australia, the Greens are flexing their muscles, promising to bring in a private member's bill to overturn bans on euthanasia in the Territories.
There is a terrible irony in the idea that the first thing a supposedly 'Green' Party wants to do is legislate for death.
But of course it proves the point made by Cardinal Pell in the election campaign about the fundamentally anti-Christian nature of the Green Death Party.
Territories vs States
States in our system can legislate on subjects like euthanasia and abortion without the Federal Government being able to interfere. Indeed, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, all have euthanasia bills before their parliaments at the moment.
Territory legislation however can be overruled by the Federal Parliament, and this proposed legislation would allow the ACT and NT to pass their own legislation to permit euthanasia.
The first conscience vote of the new Parliament?
Back when the subject last came up, in 1997, bans passed narrowly on a conscience vote. And it looks like being a conscience vote for both major parties again based on their leaders' respective comments so far.
Cleverly chosen issue too, since some parliamentarians (such as Senator Humphries of the ACT) who might otherwise oppose a bill on such a subject have, in the past voted for morally represensible legislation on the grounds of "Territory rights" and the free operation of democracy.
So start lobbying Senator Humphries and any others who might take this view now: if you have a power, and Federal parliament does, then one has a duty to exercize it for the common good. If you believe that Territory laws should not be able to overruled by the Federal Parliament, support a referendum to change the Constitution; until then, don't waste the vote we have given you or some of us who might have reluctantly voted for you will be very upset indeed...
The substantive arguments
But the substantive arguments also need to be put out there. And this is a case where the likely actual outcomes of such legislation (viz involuntary euthanasia at the whim of doctors or others), backed up by studies of real experience in the UK and elsewhere, may be more compelling to the public mind than the straight defence of life ones.
On the plus side...
The positive I can see in this is the prospect that the Green's skewed priorities will turn off those voters who voted Green this time around in order to punish Labor (since it is clearly Labor voters who defected to the Greens). If you thought you were voting for the Greens to send a message about the need for some action on climate change for example, and instead get a party pursuing an entirely different agenda....Well, one can hope things change at the next election I suppose.
We live in sad times. Blessed John Henry Newman pray for us!