Assisted Dying Bill added to Members’ ballot

David Seymour has added his Assisted Dying Bill to the Members’ lottery. It will only go to Parliament if it gets drawn. There are usually three Bills drawn from 60-70 every month or few.

A poll run for this shows 66% somewhat or strongly support euthanasia and 20% somewhat or strongly oppose.

This is a difficult issue to deal with. Political parties and MPs have tried to avoid issues like this. Labour’s Maryanne Street had a similar Members’ Bill in the pool last term but Andrew Little chose to avoid it when he became leader so it wasn’t taken up this term. That’s why Seymour stepped in.

Today’s announcement:

Seymour lodges assisted dying Bill

David Seymour, MP for Epsom, has lodged a Bill on assisted dying in Parliament’s Members’ ballot today.

“The End of Life Choice Bill is a response to the anguish faced by a small but significant minority of people with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives,” said Mr Seymour.

“The motivation for this Bill is compassion. It allows people who so choose and are eligible under this Bill to end their life in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.

“The Bill carefully defines those eligible for assisted dying. It details a comprehensive set of provisions to ensure this is a free choice made without coercion, and outlines a stringent series of steps to ensure the person is mentally capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying.

“It is evident from polls that a substantial majority of the public want Parliamentarians to consider assisted dying legislation.

“In fact, an independent poll of 2,800 people which I have commissioned on this issue shows 66% of the public favour allowing assisted dying – 38% strongly in favour – and 20% oppose. Support is remarkably steady across age groups, rural and urban areas, and genders.

“This should give a clear message to Parliamentarians that the public wants this issue addressed. If this Bill is drawn, I hope MPs will support it through its First Reading, so the many complex issues can be considered through the select committee process.”

David Seymour has also launched a website which will act as an information source and campaign hub: End of Life Choice

The Bill can be viewed here.

ACT have prepared well for this, including having a larger than normal poll done on it.

Some people believe that the law should be changed to allow doctors to assist in ending the life of a person with an incurable illness, if the patient requests it. What is your view on whether voluntary euthanasia should be legal
– strongly oppose, somewhat oppose, somewhat favour, strongly favour?

  • Strongly oppose 13%
  • Somewhat oppose 7%
  • Neutral 11%
  • Somewhat support 28%
  • Strongly support 38%
  • Unsure 2%
  • Refuse 3%


Conducted 14 to 30 June and 7 September to 6 October 2015

A question was asked in our regular weekly poll of at least 333 adult New Zealanders.

There were 2,800 responses. This gives a 1.9% maximum margin of error at the 95% confidence level.

All the polling data from Curia can be read here.

The Nation – David Seymour interview

ACT MP David Seymour was interviewed on The Nation yesterday.

While he has more freedom and time to rebuikld ACT at the moment as Under-Secretary he said it would be difficult to turn down a Ministry if offered one by John Key.

Edited interview:

What does David Seymour see as National’s weakness?

ACT’s David Seymour says his party can push National to drop company taxes, build more infrastructure and reform RMA.

Full interview:  ACT Party leader David Seymour


David Seymour, you know, you’re here as a wild card, but it has been a hell of a year for you, I will admit that. But let’s face it — ACT’s been a cop case; Epsom’s been a joke. How did you fix it all up?

Well, look, let’s just say we started with a defensive five metre scrum, and now we’re probably up to having a 22 drop out. We’ve got a lot of work to do from where we’ve come from, but I just try to show up every day and show that I can actually be a useful politician that represents voters’ views, and hopefully over the next couple of years, that will actually grow ACT’s support while I’m a good MP in Epsom and they will re-elect me too.

Now, rather populous views, really, because the Red Peak, pubs opening for the footy, these aren’t core ACT policies. I mean, it’s populist headline hunting, isn’t it? It’s getting yourself on the news.

Well, that’s what your channel chooses to cover. However, the most important thing in my daily work is actually Partnership Schools Kura Hourua. We’re going to open more of those. I visit those schools, and I see them innovating and actually allowing kids to feel good about themselves to get skills, qualifications, jobs, careers and so-on. That’s the most important thing. And we’re achieving more of Roger Douglas’ original ACT vision with Partnership Schools than ACT ever achieved, and I’m very proud of that.

Sure, and so will Sir Roger. Now, here is a hypothetical scenario for you about these pubs. Someone wants the pubs to sell them extra booze. There’s some big problem, something bad happens — will you take responsibility for that?

No, I won’t, because your question assumes that the state is responsible for everybody, and that if somebody does something stupid, it’s because the government didn’t make a rule to stop them. My view is that New Zealanders are free and responsible people on the whole, and we shouldn’t constantly be punished for the misdemeanours of the minority. Having said that, I hope that it’s going to be a joyous festival and that New Zealanders will show that the nanny staters and the naysayers were wrong. We can enjoy ourselves responsibly. I saw the Edinburgh pub just up the road opening earlier. It’s been fantastic.

Sure. You’re Under Secretary now. Do you want to be a minister this term? Because John Key’s kind of offered that. Would you take that up? Do you want to be a minister this term?

In a sense, it’s something, if you get offered, you can’t really refuse.

You can.

But I— Well, I’m not sure what the convention is. I enjoy being an under-secretary, because it allows me to get my hands on the tools of Partnership Schools and regular—

So if he offers you being a minister, you won’t refuse it?

It’d be difficult to refuse it. I understand that’s the convention.

All right. Now, where in your mind — and coming back to that drop-goal, that 22 metre drop-goal you’re talking about — where is National weak? Where can ACT take votes off National?

You saw Steven Joyce this morning ducking and diving around the economic figures, and I think that this Government actually needs to be more robust on the economy. I think that it can help National. So why can’t we drop company taxes when we have the highest taxes and capital in the OECD almost? Where has RMA reform gone? It’s missing in action. What about infrastructure, particularly around the top half of the North Island? What about indexing tax rates to inflation for families who are paying more and more every year as they stealthily creep into higher tax brackets? But also for younger generations. John Key said he’s not going to move on Super. Well, I’m sorry, but for our generation, you’re looking at five workers per retiree now; two workers per retiree by the time current university students retire.

You think there’s a genuine weakness around superannuation?

I believe that for our generation, there certainly is.

Question for David Seymour and ACT

ACT MP David Seymour has successfully negotiated a few policy compromises, like the World Cup bar opening, and:

Successful talks bring fairer PPL to pre-term babies

Successful talks between ACT Leader David Seymour and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse have yielded extended paid parental leave for parents of pre-term babies.

In another initiative Seymour is trying to get John Key to replace one of the final four flags with Red Peak. From ACT’s latest Free Press:

The Red Peak Flag
Even people who really want a flag change are underwhelmed by the final four choices.  The Red Peak Flag, however, has generated more positive enthusiasm over one weekend than the whole flag change process to date. The Flag Referendums Act says the people can only vote on four flag designs. But there’s nothing to stop John Key and the Cabinet from making Red Peak one of the four. They needn’t change the law.  Section 13 of the Flag Referendums Act says they could do it any time before September 21 with the stroke of a pen. Free Press suggests that putting Red Flag into the mix at the expense of one of the two nearly identical fern-and-Southern Cross designs might mean we get a bit more value out of the referendum’s $26 million cost.

A question for Seymour and ACT – which of the two “nearly identical fern-and-Southern Cross designs” does he suggest should be replaced with the Red Peak flag?

The two designs he refers to were by far the most popular of the long list forty (UMR poll). He wants to remove one of those and replace it with one of the least popular of the forty.

Adding Red Peak to the four because some people on Twitter and Facebook and Seymour would be questionable enough, there are thirty five other designs that get ignored if that is done. That’s hardly a sound democratic process.

But having one MP decide to pull one of the most popular designs so it can be replaced with one of thirty five others woukld be worse.

Giving him the benefit of doubt I just don’t think Seymour has thought this through very well.

Bottom of which cycle?

The ACT Party has called on Landcorp to sell down farm land.

Greens come good with Seymour

After refusing en masse yesterday to agree to David Seymour’s World Cup bar opening bill the Greens have turned things around today and have reached an agreement to allow the re-introduced Bill to progress. Kevin Hague and James Shaw were prominent in changing the Green position.

It doesn’t matter what the initial Green plan was. It could have been to stand firm, or it could have been to hold out for compromises. My impression it was more of the former.

But whether to plan or a pragmatic change of position after listening to the outcry the important thing is that the Greens have successfully negotiated a way for for Seymour’s bill.

Good on them for that.

How the journey starts is not as important as managing to arrive at the same destination.

This is an example of effective politics – involving the most right party with the most left party, but no partisanship in sight today.

It could be a bit of a win within Greens for Hague and Shaw.

And it is a big win for ACT’s David Seymour.

Opening bars for early morning rugby

David Seymour has had an impressive first year in Parliament. He possibly had the biggest challenge of any MP – he had to repair resurrect ACT in Epsom and learn how to be an electorate MP, he had to rebuild the ACT Parliamentary office and learn how to be a Parliamentary MP, he had to set up a working relationship with the Government he is supporting, etc etc.

On top of this he has shown more initiative than most MPs. He has promoted a variety of policies, including picking up responsibility for promoting euthanasia debate because Labour decided they had other priorities and dropped it.

Seymour’s latest effort was this week, to get a bill into Parliament to allow bars to open before dawn when World Cup Rugby games were to be televised.

He got some support prior to the House sitting.

PM says he sees merit in Seymour’s bill, if anyone objects in parliament today the Government could consider taking the bill on.
Labour’s Andrew Little says he is supportive of Seymour’s bar proposal. Caucus to discuss but booze regulation is conscience issue
Little says Parly shouldn’t spend a protracted amount of time on it.

But the Bill could be blocked if any MP objected. Not one MP but the whole Green Party caucus objected (despite Little’s point that it would be a conscience vote which means each individual should decided).

There was a myriad of reassons given.

Greens oppose carte blanche exemption to licensing laws – bars who want to sell alcohol during RWC games can apply for a special licence

The Greens advanced various reasons for opposing. A bad bill (K Hague); other stuff more impt (J. Shaw); harm to kids (Metiria)

also existing laws ok (Hague, Shaw) and ACT is just trying to get attention (Shaw).

They also put out a media release:

Green Party opposes David Seymour’s cheap publicity stunt

The Green Party will today be opposing David Seymour’s Bill which will see bars open for longer during the Rugby World Cup.

“David Seymour is hijacking Parliament’s time today for a cheap gimmick,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.

“This is his ham-fisted attempt to be a ‘man of the people’ but it actually has the potential to cause some real harm to communities up and down the country.

“Under David Seymour’s Bill, boozed-up people will be spilling out of bars just as parents are dropping their children at school or are on their way to kids’ weekend rugby and netball games.

“We already have regulations in place for bars to apply for special licences for occasions such as this, and many bars have already decided to do this specifically for this year’s Rugby World Cup.

“If bar owners want to screen the rugby outside of their licence hours, then they can apply the normal way through their local council for a special licence.

“This is purely a publicity stunt by David Seymour – nothing more, nothing less.

“If the Government really thinks its own liquor licence law is wrong and decides to introduce a Bill to Parliament to amend it, then we will give due consideration to it,” said Mr Hague.

Looks like Greens own publicity stunt in response. It will probably please the Green base but from the reaction on Twitter not many others were impressed. Unimpressed was more prevalent.

So the Bill will go nowhere unless the Government pick it up and present it.

If that happens John Key will impress a lot of centre New Zealand, and Seymour will get more credit.

Little will probably say something like “it isn’t a Labour priority” and vote for it anyway.

A few people will be able to go to the pub at 5 am to watch some rugby.

And ACT will continue to rebuild.

ACT: Labour or PPTA “wholly owned subsidiary”

In their latest Free Press newsletter the ACT Party refers to links between the Labour Party and the Post Primary Teachers’ Association:

Not Labour
Labour have asked more parliamentary questions about Partnership Schools than any other education topic this year.  Despite the fact that Partnership Schools are getting exceptional results for disadvantaged children.  Savage and Fraser were giants who built Labour to give the disadvantaged a fair go.

Today’s Labour are more interested in their PPTA supporters.

Wholly Owned Subsidiary
Last Wednesday Labour’s education spokesperson asked a question on Partnership Schools.  After the primary question, which is published before question time, questioners try to surprise the Minister with supplementary questions.

Labour’s whole line of questioning was revealed in a PPTA press release that came out minutes after he asked his questions.

Here’s the questions in Parliament, Labour’s Education spokesperson to Minister of Education Hekia Parata:

9. Partnership Schools—Contract Funding

[Sitting date: 01 July 2015. Volume:706;Page:15. Text is subject to correction.]

9. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education : Does she stand by her statement “I am satisfied that all the contract funding to partnership schools will be spent on meeting the contracted outcome for each school, which is to deliver educational achievement”?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Yes, I do stand by my full statement, which I gave in this House in February last year: “I am satisfied that all the contract funding to partnership schools will be spent on meeting the contracted outcome for each school, which is to deliver educational achievement. In exchange … partnership schools get greater flexibility to raise student achievement, are subject to a higher degree of scrutiny … and have greater accountabilities than schools in the mainstream system.”

Chris Hipkins : How can she claim that the funds being given to partnership schools are being used for education, when He Puna Marama Trust received $3.9 million in Government funding to the end of last year, yet its audited accounts show it spent only $1.4 million on education, leaving $2.5 million unaccounted for?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I think that the member is quoting selectively from the accounts. The first distinction to make is that He Puna Marama Trust is a trust that is the sponsor of Te Rerenga Parāoa Whangariki Te Rerenga Parāoa, and that is only one of the entities that it is responsible for. It also is responsible for 5 to 6 early childhood centres. It also runs an academy, and it is responsible for delivering outcomes, and I am happy to read to the member the 100 percent of National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 1 achievement that that school delivered. I will need to find the specific—something like 93 percent for National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2, which is what it is contracted to deliver. [Interruption] To educational achievement—at nearly 100 percent on all three.

Chris Hipkins : Does she think it is a good use of taxpayers’ money to provide He Puna Marama Trust with a grant of $1.8 million to set up a school, given it leased a premises that the accounts show is costing it only $68,000 a year?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I am very happy to answer that question, because the member has failed to grasp, for some considerable amount of time, that partnership schools are set up on a different funding basis. It is cashed up, based on the inputs—[Interruption] Good, are we all following along here? Yes. So it is based on the inputs that we fund—schools—and is benchmarked against decile 3. But I can see that the Opposition actually does not want the intrusion of facts on its shouting. That is what happens with partnership schools. We take the formula provided for mainstream schools. We benchmark against decile 3. We cash it up. We provide it with a contract. That contract is specific and public, and then we report the outcomes, and perhaps the Opposition would like to shout with glee for the number of kids who have gotten great educational qualifications that otherwise they might not have gotten.

Chris Hipkins : If the partnership schools are indeed “cashed up”, as the Minister explains, where has the extra $2.5 million that He Puna Marama Trust was given to run a partnership school gone?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : A number of the partnership schools have been leasing properties while they prepare to build. That is the case in the particular school whose accounts the member is selectively quoting.

Chris Hipkins : How is it fair that charter schools are being allowed to make multimillion-dollar surpluses, or have multimillion-dollar amounts unaccounted for, while just down the road students and teachers are having to put up with classrooms that are increasingly covered in black mould, and other schools throughout New Zealand where parents are being asked to subsidise their kids’ education that the law says is supposed to be free?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : It is quite inaccurate for the member to suggest that there are funds that are unaccounted for. They are accounted for, but the member just does not like the way they are using their funds. They have a long-term contract. They have cashed up inputs based on the same benchmarking. They have all made different choices that this House has heard about before. Vanguard, for instance, has put over 50 percent of its funding into the employment of staff. Other schools have made choices about lease versus purchase properties. In the end, our interest is to ensure the well-being of the students and the education quality the schools are delivering. That is what the annual reporting represents.

Chris Hipkins : How many months has it been since she gave the Whangaruru charter school 1 month’s notice, and given the Prime Minister’s statement that if charter schools failed, the Government would be quick to close them down, why is that school still operating?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : Because of both the operation of natural justice and its contract. I gave it a month’s notice, during which time I commissioned a review by Deloitte and the Education Review Office—

Chris Hipkins : In January.

Hon HEKIA PARATA : No, I gave them that in March.

Grant Robertson : More than a month ago.

Hon HEKIA PARATA : Yes, if you will just follow along with me, I will explain the process. So then I commissioned a report by Deloitte and by the Education Review Office, which I have received. Now I am in a process with that school, working through it.

And here is the PPTA press release:

Massive surplus for cash cow charter

1 July 2015

A Whangarei charter school has banked an operating surplus of more than $2.4million, thanks to funding well above the amount regular schools receive.

Audited financial accounts released to the charities commission show the He Puna Marama trust, which opened a charter school last year received $3,897,323 in government funding to the end of 2014.

Just $1,464,093 of this has been spent on setting up and running the school, which last year was funded for 50 students and six teachers.

PPTA president Angela Roberts was disturbed to see such a surplus when there didn’t seem to be a spare penny to spend on other schools in the area as their buildings rotted around them.

“It must be wearying for the rest of the Whangarei community to see all this surplus when other local schools are falling down,” she said.

While the trust was given $1.8 million as an establishment payment towards the end of 2013 to begin operations, only $123,000 of this was spent. In 2014 the trust received $2 million for property, staffing and operations, and just $1,355,782 was spent.

The salaries for six teaching staff came to $622,740, contributing to a drain of teachers from surrounding schools.

“I am aware state schools are losing valuable staff – they can’t possibly compete with that type of money,” Roberts said.

This is the same charter school that came under fire earlier this year for the purchase of a $100,000 waka. At the time the school leadership hit back at critics saying that other schools simply ‘need better accountants’ if they cannot afford to buy such things.

The audited annual accounts of He Puna Marama are available from the Charities Commission register

There does seem to be some similarities.

Of course Labour and the PPTA can share information and campaigns as much as they like, but it does give an indication why Parata, National and ACT have difficulty dealing with the PPTA on things like Partnership/Charter Schools.

David Seymour on ‘end of life choice’

It was announced yesterday that the Health Select Committee will carry out an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia – see Select committee to consider euthanasia – after a petition was presented to the committee.

ACT MP David Seymour was one of a number of MPs who were present when the petition arrived at Parliament. He is drafting a Member’s Bill to try and initiate debate on euthanasia. He has also just posted his thoughts on this difficult topic.

Free Thoughts – End of life choice

The contentious issue of voluntary euthanasia is one I have been considering for some time, and I want to explain here why I am preparing a private member’s (End of Life Choice) Bill to lodge for ballot in Parliament.

The primary motivation for this Bill is compassion.

Many of my constituents have urged me to proceed with a Bill, particularly in light of the withdrawal last year of a similar Bill sponsored by Iain Lees-Galloway, originally introduced by former MP Maryan Street. Two previous Bills on this issue have in the past failed to gain Parliamentary support, but the clear international trend since the 1990s is towards the legalisation of medically assisted end of life choice.

The motivation for this Bill is the very real anguish faced by people with terminal illness, as they anticipate the prospect of intolerable suffering, and the indignity of the final few days and weeks of their lives. While pain can be ameliorated somewhat, the suffering and indignity of that final period of life remains a profound concern to many people.

The intention of the Bill is to allow people with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” to obtain medical aid to die if they should so choose.

I appreciate that within our community there is a wide range of religious and philosophical views which influence attitudes to this issue. What is unthinkable for some, is considered by others the most compassionate way to address the inevitability of end of life, and the realities of terminal illness.

The Bill I intend to lodge will offer choice that is currently prohibited, for those in our community who are grievously and irremediably ill and who wish to have the option, as they near life’s end, to choose the manner and timing of their final days.

The protections designed to avoid potential abuse are crucial, and would need to be fully examined before any final Bill was to return to the House. A Select Committee process considering specific proposals will enable all these matters to be considered in detail and in public, will provide an opportunity for the full range of views in our community to be heard, and will allow us to examine the international experience.

There are several key considerations behind my intention to lodge a private members Bill.

In my view it is politically, morally, legally and, in terms of public policy, the right thing to do.

I will consider each of these in turn.

Legally this is the right thing to do.

As noted in the recent judgement on the Lecretia Seales case, the issue of end of life choice is a matter for Parliament to determine.

Likewise, earlier this year the Canadian Supreme Court determined unanimously that “The prohibition on physician-assisted dying infringes on the right to life, liberty and security of the person in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

But the Court suspended its judgement for 12 months, giving the Canadian Parliament a year to draft new legislation to reflect that judgement.

This reflected a view that it is a matter for Parliament to decide, not the Courts. Legislation to give effect to assisted dying will involve very many detailed ethical, legal and practical considerations.

The scrutiny of a select committee process, examining a concrete proposal, is the best and most thorough way of considering this issue.

In terms of appropriate legal process, introducing a Bill to Parliament is the right thing to do.

Morally this is the right thing to do.

The difficulty with assisted dying is that we are attempting to balance competing values, each of great importance.

The first is the sanctity of life and the need to protect the vulnerable. The second is the autonomy and dignity of a competent adult who seeks to end their life as a response to a grievous and irremediable medical condition.

The difficulty is that an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying effectively creates a “duty to live” rather than a “right to life”.

An absolute prohibition on assisted dying also calls into question the existing legality of any consent to the withdrawal or refusal of lifesaving or life-sustaining treatment. Yet already there is a degree of societal consensus that the administration of palliative sedation and the withholding or withdrawal of lifesaving or life-sustaining medical treatment, which can have the effect of hastening death, are ethically acceptable.

Protracted dying was once rare; death typically came swiftly. But medicine has advanced, and now a protracted death is common.

By acknowledging this reality, the argument can be advanced that it is also ethical for voluntary adults who are competent, informed, grievously and irremediably ill, and where the assistance is clearly consistent with the patient’s wishes and best interests, and in order to relieve suffering, for them to have the option of physician assisted end of life.

In short, an absolute ban on assisting another person to end their own life can amount to condemning a person to a life of severe and intolerable suffering.

It was for that reason the Canadian Courts concluded that the ban on assisted dying was too broad – by justifiably attempting to protect the vulnerable, it denied the rights of some individuals in a way that bore no relation to the object of the law.

As the Court said, “A person facing this prospect has two options: she can take her own life prematurely, often by violent or dangerous means, or she can suffer until she dies from natural causes. The choice is cruel.”

That is why the international trend since the 1990s has been for Parliaments to recognise that, in certain well defined circumstances, an individual’s choice about the end of their life is entitled to respect.

The international evidence was closely examined in the Canadian courts. There it was stated that an absolute prohibition on assisted dying would have been necessary if:

  • The evidence showed that physicians were unable to reliably assess competence, voluntariness, and non-ambivalence in patients;
  • That physicians fail to understand or apply the informed consent requirement for medical treatment;
  • Or if the evidence from permissive jurisdictions showed abuse of patients, carelessness, callousness, or a slippery slope leading to the casual termination of life.

But after an exhaustive examination of the evidence these possibilities were rejected. The judgement found that properly designed and administered safeguards were capable of protecting vulnerable people from abuse and error, that the elderly or people with disabilities are not at a heightened risk, and that there was no evidence of a slippery slope.

Before any changes to New Zealand law are contemplated, these issues should be considered afresh by our Parliament.

Morally, reconsidering the law on end of life choice is the right thing to do.

Politically this is the right thing to do.

My job as a Parliamentarian is to represent the voters, and that involves reflecting the will of the public, insofar as that “will” makes sense and is not inconsistent with my fundamental beliefs.

On this issue, for some MPs, there will inevitably be a clash with some profoundly important religious or philosophical beliefs.

That said, the public clearly wish this issue to be debated, so that regardless of one’s personal view on the matter, this is an issue which deserves to be placed before the House – as I will seek to do with my Bill – and which deserves also to be taken at least to select committee for the sort of thorough review that the Canadian case examined.

Advancing the consideration of End of Life Choice through a Bill to be thoroughly examined via select committee, is the best way to respond to the wishes of the NZ electorate.

I concluded therefore that, politically, introducing my Bill is the right thing to do.

In terms of public policy this is the right thing to do.

The law against assisting somebody to end their life, is of course a ‘generally sound law’. But it is also one which has an extraordinarily harmful effect on a small number of individuals.

As the Canadian judgement determined, that law is overly broad.

As a matter of public policy, we need to reconsider the situation of that small number of persons who:

  • clearly consent to the termination of their life, and
  • have a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, disease or disability, that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual.

The eventual scope of any Bill which might be returned to the House from a select committee review is not to be determined here.

My case is that New Zealand needs and – as is evident from recent opinion polls – wants this debate.

Our Parliament should facilitate this discussion by considering this issue afresh through the mechanism of a Bill passing its first reading in the House and proceeding to select committee review.

All New Zealanders should have the opportunity to be heard on this matter. The discussion and review should not be rushed.

My End of Life Choice Bill, when lodged and if drawn from the private members’ bill ballot, will allow this much needed review to occur.

It is the right thing to do.

David Seymour
ACT Party Leader

This is thoughtful and politically gutsy stuff from Seymour. Some people will strongly oppose making any changes on law around euthanasia and other parties have not been prepared to promote debate on it. In fact Seymour has picked up a Labour Member’s Bill carried over from last term by Iain Lees-Galloway after Andrew Little had it withdrawn as ‘not a priority’.

Seymour and ACT lead on euthanasia

While the large party leaders waffle and wait in the wake of Lecretia Seales raising attention on the euthanasia issue, ACT leader David Seymour continues to work on doing something about it.

Mr Seymour is the only MP currently working on such a bill and he said he had briefed Mr Key on it a few weeks ago.

He said it would be based on former Labour MP Maryan Street’s member’s bill, which her party withdrew last term because it was wary of such a controversial topic. Mr Seymour said he had been working on it for several months but needed time to consult medical experts and others.

He said the Act Party board had signed off on it and he had done polling in Epsom to ensure it would not endanger his hold on the electorate.

While the others talk empty words bout doing something Seymour has stepped up and leads on an issue that has substantial public support.

This isn’t a case of wagging the dog, in this case the mangy old National and Labour dogs play politics and do nothing.

Key cops out on addressing euthanasia

While John Key says he supports Parliament looking at the euthanasia issue he is not prepared to do anything about it, instead leaving it to the slight chance a bill will be drawn from the Member’s ballot.

From Act plans assisted dying bill:

The hopes of euthanasia supporters appear to rely on Act leader David Seymour and the luck of the draw after both Prime Minister John Key and Labour chief Andrew Little ruled out putting up a bill on the issue.

Mr Key said yesterday that he felt sympathy for Lecretia Seales’ case on assisted dying for the terminally ill but others in National were strongly opposed to it and the Government would not sponsor a euthanasia bill.

Mr Key said he agreed with Justice David Collins’ ruling in Lecretia Seales’ court case that it was up to Parliament to change the law on the issue. However, that should be a conscience vote for MPs and dealt with in a member’s bill.

It should be a conscience issue but it doesn’t have to be done through a Member’s bill.

The PM said National was open to a select committee inquiry that could result from a petition on the matter and allow public debate.

The decision to rule out a Government bill means an individual MP will have to put in a private member’s bill and rely on luck to get it into the House, because measures are selected by ballot.

Although it could go straight into Parliament if there was unanimous agreement from MPs, Mr Key doubted that would be achieved.

Polls show there is strong public support for addressing euthanasia.

Key is copping out.

It looks like he is avoiding annoying some of his caucus rather than deal with something for which there is widespread support.

Very disappointing.

National supporter and pollster David Farrar posted Collins and Goff on euthanasia at Kiwiblog and said:

What we need is a bill to be introduced. I believe it would have overwhelming public support, and so long as there were strong safeguards, would get a significant majority in Parliament to pass it.

He also posted Parliament will debate euthanasia on Saturday:

Good to see that a bill will be put forward. The challenge will be to get it drawn from the ballot, or adopted by the Government (less likely).

I believe any bill, if drafted carefully with safeguards, will pass Parliament with a substantial majority.

Public opinion is massively in favour of a law change. The last public poll saw 74% in favour and just 20% opposed.

A select committee inquiry in response to the petition is a useful thing to do, but not as a substitute to a bill. It can get the arguments on the table, but it can’t lead to a law change, a vote in the House or even a debate in the House. As it is uncertain when a bill might be drawn out of the ballot, it is a good thing to do to keep attention on the issue, and hear arguments on what safeguards there should be. But a bill should go into the ballot as soon as possible, to maximise the chance of it being considered this term.

It’s disappointing that while both John Key and Andrew Little say they support addressing euthanasia neither of them will do anything about it, despite a large majority of public support.

Good on David Seymour and Act, but democracy is poorly served if it’s left to a one MP party to put a bill forward on this.

NZ Herald:

Mr Key said that while he doubted National would block one of its MPs putting up a bill, none had approached him wanting to do so. He said he was likely to support a bill if it struck the right protections.

“Striking the right legislative balance with clear definitions and adequately strong protections is an extremely difficult task and the fact no bill has yet passed is testament to that.

“However, Lecretia has certainly succeeded in sparking a debate on the issue.”

Key is talking the talk but Lecretia has failed to prompt him to walk the walk.


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