A vote on voluntary assisted dying in NSW Parliament will be delayed until next year after a bill on the matter was referred to an upper house committee.
The highly-anticipated bill, introduced by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, would provide terminally ill people the freedom to chose to end their own life.
The proposed bill has been debated in the public arena for months, with community representatives, politicians, faith leaders and those with a lived-experience around the matter sharing whether they are for or against the controversial matter.
The bill will still be debated in the lower house, however it is expected the upper house won't be able to consider it until February.
Premier Dominic Perrottet and opposition leader Chris Minns have both suggested they will vote against the legislation.
Both leaders, however, have promised a conscience vote on the matter.
Mr Greenwich had hopes the reform would be finalised before the end of the year. However, the bill will now be the subject of an upper house inquiry chaired by Wagga MLC Wes Fang.
Mr Fang said the inquiry will likely hold three separate hearing dates in December, but this needs to be confirmed.
The law and justice committee will then report back to parliament before the first sitting day in 2022.
Mr Fang said the inquiry will be "an objective analysis of the bill and issues that it raises".
"[It] will provide a chance to dive into the legislation and hear from advocates and those opposed," he added.
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Mr Fang has voiced support for voluntary assisted dying in the past, but made it clear that any personal opinions will be set aside whilst chairing the inquiry.
"I've made a commitment to all sides of this [that] it will be an impartial, respectful and timely report," he said.
The Wagga MLC also said the inquiry itself was not entirely unexpected, given that other states have conducted inquiry's around this matter before passing legislation.
New South Wales is currently the only state in Australia yet to legalise voluntary assisted dying.
Mr Fang is confident the inquiry will allow the committee to report back without delaying the passage of the bill through parliament.
"We've had a look at the workload and legislative agenda of government and we don't see that we are going to be in a position to be able to bring the bill forward for debate before the start of next year," he said.
"Given that we have been COVID-affected for the last four months and not able to sit, we have a backlog of legislation and government agenda that needs to be addressed."
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