Star speaks out on right-to-die
A REVERED actor whose on-screen character is forced to consider end of life options has addressed the right-to-die debate, as a survey shows Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of legalising voluntary euthanasia.
While MPs are focused on the contentious issue in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania, away from politics the matter has been highlighted by critically-acclaimed new show The End.
Roy Billing, 74, became intimate with the subject matter for his role in the Foxtel comedy-drama as Gold Coast widower Art Weinberg.
Drawing a parallel between character and his own feelings, Billing said: "He's living on his own since his wife died and he knows and he's getting dementia and he's seen other people who have had it and he doesn't want to go down that path. I would feel the same.
"I can't imagine, you know, going through horrible, terrible, terrible pain and knowing that I had to endure it and I wasn't going to live."
Billing acknowledged it is a sensitive topic, with "a lot of people who have objections - and that's fair enough" that could be best addressed by a public vote as in New Zealand, where he is currently filming.
Noting the importance of public opinion, Billing said findings from a new survey were understandable. Of almost 1200 people polled by personal finance app Humaniti, 70 per cent said they would want the option of euthanasia if diagnosed with an incurable illness, with 12 per cent saying no and 18 per cent undecided.
Seventy-five per cent said they believed intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering was ethical - and 82 per cent said the law should allow doctors to help incurably ill people die if that was the patients' wish.
Almost 10 per cent said euthanasia was unethical and 15 per cent were undecided.
Queensland is set to table voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legislation this autumn; it is a contentious policy proposal in New South Wales and it is expected to become law in Tasmania in March.
A Victorian law to allow VAD under limited circumstances came into force in 2019, and Western Australian law will come into effect in March after a bill was passed last year. Voluntary euthanasia is not legal in South Australia, Northern Territory and the ACT.
Despite the political differences, the Humaniti survey found most Australians' feelings broadly in line across all states.
Seventy-two per cent said they would support a terminally ill loved one who wished to end their life. Asked if they would be prepared to personally help end that loved one's life, more than 36 per cent said they would, 23 per cent said they would not and 41 per cent could not decide.
And 65 per cent were opposed to the prosecution of those who do help terminally ill family members die.
Originally published as Star speaks out on right-to-die