Wagga supporters and opponents of euthanasia will be watching NSW Parliament closely as a voluntary assisted dying bill is due to be introduced in the next few days.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich has said 28 other MPs from the Labor, Liberal and National parties will co-sponsor his bill to allow people with terminal illnesses to seek medical assistance to end their lives.
Wagga has seen campaigns on both sides of the issue as the Dying with Dignity group joined with residents who lost loved ones to prolonged terminal disease and the Catholic Church urging MPs not to support legalisation.
Catholic Diocese of Wagga Bishop Mark Edwards said improvements in palliative care meant that NSW should not allow euthanasia.
"What I think is at stake is how we end up treating our older people. We have already seen through the royal commission how elderly people can be abandoned and maltreated," he said.
"The fear is that going down this road is that it will lead to much fewer good outcomes for older people and for ourselves when we get old.
"We don't want anyone to die in pain, I don't want to die in pain and I don't want my loved ones to die in pain but the way that palliative care is done at the moment that very few people die in pain ... my hope is that the bill will be defeated."
Bishop Edwards said it was important to the Catholic Church that, if the bill was passed, it would contain conscientious objection clauses to allow doctors and healthcare providers not to participate in euthanasia.
Wagga historian Geoff Burch, who lost his wife Sue to cancer in May, said he was "very pleased to see [the bill] finally being introduced into the Parliament".
"I'm not overly confident but I'm certainly hoping NSW will follow the rest of Australia and adopt voluntary assisted dying laws," he said.
Mr Burch said it was "just terrible" that the NSW Coroner had recorded 101 deaths of persons aged over 40 from intentional self harm in 2019 that were linked to having a terminal illness.
Independent Wagga MP Joe McGirr has previously said he opposed euthanasia but has committed to hearing from his constituents before he makes a decision.
Dr McGirr declined to comment on Mr Greenwich's plan to introduce the bill to Parliament this week.
Mr Burch said he had not spoken with Dr McGirr about the issue recently.
"I don't know if he has changed his mind, my personal feeling is that he won't but I don't know that. We'll have to see where he goes," Mr Burch said.
Wagga-based Nationals MLC Wes Fang, who has previously expressed support for voluntary assisted dying, said the issue would not have been his priority for the first week of Parliament after an extended COVID-19 shutdown.
"It's something that is not the highest priority for the state right now, however, I understand being the last jurisdiction, effectively, which hasn't enacted legislation of this type, that there is a will within the community and with advocates to see it progressed," he said.
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