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Victoria Will Legalise Voluntary Assisted Dying After A Marathon Debate In Parliament

The Victorian lower house quickly agreed to amendments after days of debates.

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Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Victoria will become the first Australian state to legalise euthanasia after its parliament passed legislation in support of voluntary assisted dying on Wednesday.

The law will allow people who are over 18, sound of mind and with a terminal illness, to request lethal medication if they are suffering intolerably and have no more than six months to live, or 12 months in the case of motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. MPs were granted a conscience vote.

The law will come into effect in 2019 after it receives royal assent.

The debate in the Victorian upper house commenced on Tuesday afternoon last week and didn't stop until late on the afternoon of the following day, with a total of 28 hours of debate. The debate went two hours longer than in the lower house, where the legislation passed 47-37 last month.

At times MPs became frustrated due to the long sitting hours.

.@ingapeulichmp points out that she hasn't slept during 27hr #VAD debate, unlike other MPs and mover of current ame…

But when the final vote was held, there were tears of joy from some legislators.

MP Colleen Hartland, left, is congratulated as the bill passes the Victorian parliament.
Scott Barbour / Getty Images

MP Colleen Hartland, left, is congratulated as the bill passes the Victorian parliament.

The legislation returned to the lower house to vote on amendments passed by the upper house, and passed on Wednesday. The amendments included halving the time people had left to live before they could access assisted dying from 12 months to six months for most eligible patients, except those with motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

Due to the conscience vote, debate on the legislation resulted in some government MPs taking opposing stances on the debate, including Andrews, who was in favour of the legislation, and deputy premier James Merlino, who was opposed.

"Only when you've experienced something like that, only when you've seen someone you love succumb to, feebly and painfully, to what some people might even describe as a good death, you start to think, 'What on Earth must qualify as a bad death?'," Andrews said when the legislation was debated last month.

The legislation was also criticised by unlikely bedfellows in former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott and former Labor prime minister Paul Keating.

Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Josh Taylor at

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