The heart-wrenching words that brought MPs on both sides of politics to tears.

Nine years ago, Victoria’s agriculture minister Jaala Pulford voted against a euthanasia bill.

This time, it’s different.

Between then and now, Pulford has lived every mother’s worst nightmare. She has “learnt more about death and dying” than she ever cared to. And, in an emotional speech delivered to the upper house on Thursday, she recounted the final weeks of her 13-year-old daughter Sinead’s life, explaining why she’s voting in favour of the government’s assisted dying bill.

“Sinead’s death was a good death, for the horror that it was,” Pulford said, fighting back tears.

“And when Sinead died, she was holding my hand, I was able to tell her how brave she had been, how loved she was and how it was okay for her to go now.”

When Sinead was diagnosed in 2014, the family was told she had perhaps nine months to live, The Age reports. Within 12 weeks, she was gone.

“When my beautiful, brilliant, vivacious, unicycle-mad Sinead was diagnosed with cancer we were told they had never seen anything like this before,” Ms Pulford told her colleagues. “It’s not a kid’s cancer,’ they said.”

Her 12-minute speech to parliament was enough to bring politicians on both sides to tears, The Age reports.

Listen: Mia Freedman, Jessie Stephens and Holly Wainwright tackle the euthanasia debate. Post continues after audio. 

It comes after the major parties allowed a conscience vote on the controversial bill, which would legalise assisted dying in Victoria.

Twenty-one votes are needed to pass the bill through the 40-member upper house and ongoing debate is expected to continue in the Legislative Council on Friday.

“Ultimately this is a bill that requires 21 votes and we’re going to continue to have discussions with people in order to try and see if we can get to that magic number,” Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy told a press conference, AAP reports.


Liberal MP Bernie Finn opposes the bill. He too delivered an impassioned argument, saying providing people with a means to suicide will encourage them to take it even if better care might be on offer in different parts of the country.

“If suicide is all we offer people, that’s all they will take,” Finn told the upper house. “And in most parts of country Victoria, that’s all we’ll be offering and that’s all they will take.”

He went onto say the bill does not stop coercion of the elderly and disabled, and does not account for doctor error. He also said it would encourage euthanasia advocates like Philip Nitschke to set up a “one stop death shop”.

Pulford disagrees, saying her daughter’s death has taught her more about dying, AAP reports. She told the senate “rejecting this bill will not save a single life” because it is only for the terminally ill.

“The idea of a good death or a bad death is something I’d like to explore,” she said. “I’m perplexed by the argument that this bill represents a choice between voluntary assisted dying and palliative care. To me they are complementary, they can and should co-exist.”