Never one to shy from a challenge, one-time Scotts Head resident Shayne Higson is once again putting herself and her cause in the political spotlight.
The cause is one that is supported by 85 per cent of Australians, that of voluntary euthanasia, and the political arena is the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth.
“This will be the fourth time I’ve stood as a candidate for the Voluntary Euthanasia Party (VEP) and I am doing so because the issue needs to be kept on the political agenda,” Shayne said.
“Just recently we saw the Senate fail to pass a bill that would have given the Territories the right to legislate on voluntary assisted dying and in NSW last year another bill was lost by one vote.
“I am feeling more and more frustrated at how the religious conservatives in both State and Federal parliament are derailing the progress of this issue, which so many people support.”
She said she was seizing the opportunity of this high profile by-election to let voters know the VEP was still here and working to make sure all Australians had access to legal euthanasia.
“The eyes of the nation are watching this by-election and I want people to see we are there fighting to give everyone the same choice that will be available to Victorians from June 2019.
“I see this as discrimination against our future selves – don’t we all want the right to die peacefully, without prolonged suffering?”
It is not right that the Liberal conservatives are setting a moral agenda that may not align with many AustraliansVoluntary Euthanasia Party candidate, Shayne Higson
She said she had also been disgusted by recent revelations that women in the Liberal Party had been bullied and intimidated.
“I am aware of similar stories of female Liberal members being harassed when they raised the issue of euthanasia during pre-selections in Victoria and South Australia.
“It makes me angry because I believe more women in politics will improve the quality of both our democracy and our parliament.”
Her links to the Mid North Coast aside, Shayne was born, raised and educated in Wentworth and continues to live between there and Scotts Head.
“Right now I am here full-time. It is difficult to get our message out because the mainstream media is most interested in the three high profile candidates.
“That is frustrating because how can voters fully exercise their democratic right when they are unable to get all the information.”
Hear Shayne discussing the reasons for her candidacy:
She hopes the public support of both television personality Andrew Denton and surgeon Charlie Teo will help boost awareness.
Asked if VEP would be suggesting preferences, Shayne said that while her how-to-vote cards would ask people to put her at number one, no further suggestions would be made “because our issue has support across the political spectrum.”
The flip-side of the card will however display a scorecard of where the other candidates sit on the issue.
“The ALP candidate, Tim Murray, supports it, Kerryn Phelps tried to fence sit but finally said she does not … we have not yet received Liberal candidate David Sharma’s response. We have given candidates until October 1 – it is no longer acceptable for people to avoid saying where they stand.”
The Wentworth by-election will be held on Saturday, October 20. There are 14 candidates.