Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has slammed Victoria’s legalisation of voluntary assisted dying, calling it a ‘dreadful moral watershed’.
Mr Abbott made the remarks as his 93-year-old father Richard lays in hospital following a stroke on Monday.
His family has been at his father’s bedside at Sydney Adventist Hospital.
‘This is the vigil that families from time to time have to keep over a loved one – it’s the respect of the living over the dying,’ he told 2GB on Wednesday.
‘People who are gravely ill should have their pain relieved, not their lives ended.
‘This is a dreadful moral watershed in our country’s life.’
He said the debate surrounding same-sex marriage had distracted from the push to legalise assisted dying.
Mr Abbott was hopeful the Victorian parliament would reverse the decision in the future.
Through teary and tired eyes politicians in Victoria’s upper house voted 22-18 in favour of legalising voluntary assisted dying.
After months of heated debate the controversial legislation cleared what most consider the final hurdle on Wednesday, with Victoria now poised to become the first Australian state to legalise such a scheme.
The final tick is due next week with the lower house expected to approve amendments before an 18-month turnaround, meaning the scheme can be operational by 2019.
‘This is a momentous day in the parliament of Victoria,’ Labor MP Gavin Jennings told the legislative council after the narrow vote.
The chamber started sitting at midday on Tuesday and took only a short break for lunch on Wednesday during the marathon.
‘I haven’t had a wink of sleep,’ the Liberal’s Inga Peulich told the legislative council after 27 hours of back-and-forth, as the government-proposed bill neared a vote.
‘And that is why I’ve been critical of the process. These issues are far too important to do on a run and a hop.’
Emotions were raw when the vote was finalised.
‘You’ve made a terrible mistake,’ anti-voluntary assisted dying campaigner Frances Beaumont yelled at MPs.
Euthanasia advocate and media identity Andrew Denton left parliament after the vote without comment, saying he would leave the commentary to the politicians.