Lara Giddings

The new Premier of the Australian state
of Tasmania has promised to back a voluntary euthanasia bill. Lara Giddings, a
38-year-old career Labor politician, has stepped into the leadership after
David Bartlett resigned to spend more time with his young family.

Ms Giddings has a difficult task ahead
of her as the leader of a minority Labor government in partnership with the
Greens. She can only stay in office by courting them, but she also needs to
ensure that her coalition partners do not continue to steal the votes of social
progressives who have voted for Labor in the past. 

On
her first day in office, Ms Giddings appealed to the Greens by confirming that
she would support voluntary euthanasia. A private bill which proposed by one of
the two Green members of her cabinet, Nick McKim, is currently before the state
parliament.

Veteran
Tasmanian gay rights campaigner Rodney Croome welcomed the new Premier. He
said: “As Attorney-General, Lara Giddings showed her commitment to equality for
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by championing the legal
recognition of same-sex parents, state civil union ceremonies and overseas
same-sex marriages. Her commitment to human rights is also demonstrated by her
strong support for a state Charter of Rights, surrogacy law reform, the
decriminalisation of prostitution and voluntary euthanasia.”

Because
Tasmania is the smallest of Australia’s states, with a population of about
500,000, it has less intellectual diversity and much less public debate. With
the support of the new Premier, there is a good chance that the euthanasia bill
will pass. If that happens, other states could follow suit.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.