Election – governing possibilities

National have a 10% lead over Labour so have the stronger mandate to form a government, and last night Bill English acted and spoke like a winner, but their options are limited.

English said they will work with NZ First to try to form a ‘stable government’ over the next few days. The outcome of course depends on Winston and his party.

Jacinda Ardern looked and sounded defeated last night but she said Labour would have a good look at the results and their options today, and that they would have a few conversations.

Labour did well to bounce back from their 2014 disaster but they didn’t get a strong mandate to lead a new government.

James Shaw claimed that people had voted for a change of government so would be working to try to achieve that with Labour and NZ First.

This depends a lot on NZ First, who may demand Greens stay on the sidelines again as a condition of supporting Labour.

Greens have dropped from 10.7% to about 6% and have less votes than NZ First so don’t have a strong mandate, and their presumed continued refusal to work with National puts them in a weak bargaining position.

David Seymour is at risk of being left on the sideline if Peters refuses to deal with him combined with National. The alternative, a Labour led government, is also the sideline.

Greens could strengthen their hand significantly if they were prepared to negotiate with both National and Labour-NZ First, but unless their membership has a massive change of heart and gets some common sense this looks unlikely.

James Shaw could try to lead his party to negotiate with National, if he wants to put the interests of the country first, but Greens have a habit of cutting off their nose to spite their face.

My personal preference is for National to continue to lead the Government with the best option between NZ First and Greens. This would be the best guarantee of stability, sound economic management would continue but National would be forced to deal better the key issues of housing, poverty, inequality and the environment.

Ardern did well to lift Labour out of oblivion but she and her party came up short. Ardern would benefit from working over the next three years to rebuild Labour with a new injection of talent (current depth of  talent is not strong) ready for a strong bid in 2014.

Another National embarrassment

When things swing against political parties it can be hard to turn it around – especially when they keeping doing or saying silly things.

Steven Joyce dragged National down last week when they were already flagging behind Labour in the polls.

Today 38th ranked MP Simon O’Connor has National in the negative news column after a Facebook comment on Sunday night:

image-dynimg-full-q75

With opponents and journalists looking for something to kick of the week with this got a good airing.

Newshub:  No apology from National MP Simon O’Connor over suicide comments

Hundreds gathered outside Parliament on Sunday to urge the Government to do more on mental health. New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with more than 600 victims in the past year.

O’Connor’s tweet was in response to Jacinda Ardern’s involvment in that.

“It’s strange that Jacinda is so concerned about youth suicide but is happy to encourage the suicide of the elderly, disabled, and sick. Perhaps she just values one group more than the others? Just saying.”

Not surprisingly:

Hundreds expressed outrage on social media, including a number of MPs.

Ardern responded:

Ms Ardern told Newstalk ZB on Monday morning euthanasia and suicide were “completely different issues”.

“The 600 people in New Zealand who have taken their own lives will shock and appal all New Zealanders. The fact our mental health services aren’t doing enough for those people, that’s something we should be talking about this election.

“To draw then a comparison to the issue of the people having the ability to make choices about their own end of life if they’re facing terminal illness, is absolutely a completely different issue again.

“I’ve said openly that I believe people should be able to make their own choices in those circumstances. Mr O’Connor disagrees, he chaired a select committee on this issue and disagreed there too. That’s a conscience vote for us all.”

O’Connor said that no apology was necessary.

But rather than withdraw the comments Mr O’Connor is doubling-down, telling Newshub on Monday he had nothing to apologise for.

Mr O’Connor said he didn’t doubt Ms Ardern’s sincerity, but said she should “also be sad about those who are old or depressed or disabled who are also looking to suicide”, and called her views “inconsistent”.

“The intention of taking one’s life is called suicide. There are some who say that there are legitimate opportunities where it should be allowed, and we call that euthanasia or physician-assisted dying. So no, it’s just an inconsistent approach.”

“At one level saying youth suicide is bad, but saying other forms of suicide are acceptable, that’s an inconsistency. That’s always been the approach I’ve had,” he said.

“You cannot allow suicide for some and prevent it for others”.

Predictably Bill English was asked about it and all he could do was lamely slap O’Connor’s hand:

NZH: Bill English tells Simon O’Connor he’s wrong over euthanasia comments

National leader Bill English says he has texted his colleague Simon O’Connor to tell him it was wrong to link suicide and euthanasia.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, English said he didn’t agree with O’Connor.

“We don’t link euthanasia and suicide,” he said.

“In both cases, what’s important here is compassion for people who are vulnerable.

“For suicide, we’re trying to find better and wider solutions as a practical expression of that support for people who are at risk.”

But the damage had been done. This makes National look out of control and out of touch.

O’Connor completed training as a Catholic priest but didn’t seek ordination. He has previously expressed strong views against euthanasia.

But he isn’t totally devout in catholic practices.

Stuff in February last year: National MP Simon O’Connor to marry Minister Simon Bridges’ sister

National MP Simon O’Connor kicked off the new year proposing to Transport Minister Simon Bridges’ sister.

O’Connor’s fiance, Rachel Trimble, who still uses her ex-husband’s name, says politics really runs in the family and she’s joked to O’Connor that he should take her maiden name for fun.

“It’s quite confusing, I’ve had people think that I’m dating Simon Bridges, and I have to explain that he’s my brother,” Trimble said.

“I’m quite surprised he even likes me, considering I have five children…he’s a really kind and caring guy,” she said.

The kids are “great” and “fundamentally they still have a Dad, and it’s not me,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor admits when he was studying to be a priest in the seminary a decade ago he didn’t expect he’d end up marrying an older woman with five children.

Between 1995 and the end of 2004 O’Connor was studying for the priesthood with the Society of Mary.

He completed his studies but when it came to being ordained he decided it wasn’t for him.

“I’m still a man who has beliefs but it’s not a big part of who I am.”

“I don’t regret a day of being in the seminary but you can’t be a politico and a cleric.”

Trimble and O’Connor married in December last year. Unless rules have changed they would not have been able to get married in a Catholic Church.

This latest controversy is a relatively minor embarrassment for National but it could be another nail in their campaign coffin.

Q+A: Ohariu electorate

Q+A: Is Ohariu a safe seat for Peter Dunne? We have the results our Q+A Colmar Brunton Snap Poll on the Ohariu electorate

NZ Herald pre-empt this:  Jacinda effect’ erodes Peter Dunne’s support in Ohariu but he hopes it will be temporary

United Future leader Peter Dunne believes his support in Ohariu has been eroded because of the Jacinda Ardern effect but he questions how long that will last.

The Q + A show has a snap poll tomorrow (TV1 – 9am, Sunday) which is expected to show Dunne trailing Labour candidate Greg O’Connor.

“The question is, and it is something everyone is trying to figure out at the moment, is how deep-seated that factor is,” Dunne told the Herald on Sunday.

“Is it a phenomenon that will pass by as quickly as it arose or is it something more substantial?

Dunne has held the west-Wellington seat since 1984, originally as a Labour MP, but held it in the 2014 election by only 710 votes. He has been a support partner of the National-led Government since 2008.

In the past National has campaigned for only the party vote but this time it is explicitly asking National supporters to give Dunne their electorate vote to keep him in Parliament.

Labour and the Greens have done an electorate deal in which the Greens are not standing in order to give O’Connor, the former police union boss, a stronger chance of rolling Dunne. The Greens had 2764 electorate votes last time.

It’s not surprising to see that Peter Dunne’s hold on the Ohariu electorate is at serious risk (it has been before but so far he has survived).

A resurgent Labour under Ardern’s leadership was always going to help O’Connor against Dunne, but that may or may not hold up as we get into the business end of the campaign.

If Dunne loses it will make National’s chances a little bit harder.


Poll:

  • Greg O’Connor (Labour) 48%
  • Peter Dunne (United Future) 34%
  • Brett Hudson (National) 14%
  • Jessica Hammond (TOP) 2%

Party support in Ohariu:

  • National 46% (50.23% in the 2014 election, 49.60 in 2011)
  • Labour 35% (23.42%, 26.53%)
  • Greens 12% (15.01%, 14,42%)
  • NZ First 4% (4.76%, 3.91%)

501 voters, +/- 4%

That’s a big lead to O’Connor and it looks very difficult for Dunne, but there have been big poll swings lately so it’s difficult to know how this will end up.

However I think this looks ominous for Dunne.

Another part of the poll:


  • Staying with Dunne 63%
  • Switching to O’Connor/Labour 27%
  • Switching to someone else 10%

 

Aim: TOP dog on cross benches

It’s getting hard to differentiate between attention seeking stunts, a normal day in the campaign, and official party launches these days.

Gareth Morgan and the The Opportunities Party have been campaigning for Months, but they had their official campaign launch today.

Scoop:  Labour will need more than ‘Jacinda Trudeau’: TOP

“Quite clearly, Jacinda’s a great communicator, so that’s good,” said Morgan, who welcomed Labour’s resurgence as “great for New Zealand democracy”.

“It’s an issue of whether that’s sufficient for Labour: the Jacinda Trudeau Effect, I call it,” he said, referring to the impact a young, stylish leader has had on Canadian politics through its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

On TOP:

While TOP’s plan was to “to be a 30 percent party by 2020”, he expected TOP to poll 10 percent at the Sept. 23 election, although modified that to “being realistic” 5 percent and six MPs in the next Parliament, enough potentially to help form a minority government led by either National or Labour.

TOP has polled 2 percent in three published polls and 3 percent in a UMR poll reported this week by Radio New Zealand.

The party hopes that means it has the momentum to make 5 percent by election day. As TOP expects to win no electorate seats, a party vote under 5 percent would be wasted as it would gain no parliamentary seats under New Zealand’s MMP proportional voting system.

Morgan insisted he did not want to become a Cabinet Minister and would look only to provide support to a government from Parliament’s ‘cross-benches’.

Rather than naming non-negotiable ‘bottom line’ policies, if TOP had a choice of partners, it would pick the one that promised to enact the largest number of TOP’s 15 main policies, said Morgan.

“Whoever gives us the most will get the nod.”

So Morgan wants to be TOP dog on the cross benches.

Parliamentary report on medically assisted dying

In June 2015 a petition was presented to Parliament from then MP Hon Maryan Street and 8,974 others requesting:

That the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the
introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable.

Parliament’s Health Committee has just released their report on this. It looks in detail into many aspects of assisted dying and euthanasia.

This is a separate process to the Private Members’ Bill of David Seymour that was drawn from the ballot earlier this year, which hasn’t had it’s First Reading in Parliament yet (unlikely before the election).


Report on the petition of Hon Maryan Street presented

During its consideration of the petition, more than 21,000 individuals and organisations submitted their views to the committee. Over 108 hours, 944 people took the opportunity to share their opinions.

The petition requests that the House of Representatives investigate fully public attitudes towards the introduction of legislation which would permit medically-assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition that makes life unbearable.

Recommendation:

The Health Committee has considered Petition 2014/18 of Hon Maryan Street and 8,974
others and recommends that the House take note of its report.

This report gives us the opportunity to summarise, for the benefit of the House and the
public, what we heard and considered during our review of more than 21,000 submissions from the petitio extremely contentious. We therefore encourage everyone with an interest in the subject to read the report in full, and to draw their own conclusions based on the evidence presented in it.

Background

The petitioner, Hon Maryan Street, was a member of Parliament between 2005 and 2014.
While a member, she sought to introduce the End of Life Options Bill as a member’s bill.
The purpose of this bill was to provide individuals with a choice about how they end their life and allow them to receive assistance from a medical practitioner to die under certain circumstances. The petition originated with the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand (VES) before being adopted formally by Hon Maryan Street. Since leaving
Parliament, Ms Street has become the President of VES.

There have been two first reading debates in Parliament on similar bills. Both were
unsuccessful. In 1995, members voted 61 to 29 against Michael Laws’ Death with Dignity
Bill. In 2003, members voted 60 to 58 against Peter Brown’s Death with Dignity Bill.
The petitioner’s bill was formally removed from the members’ bill ballot in December
2014.

Full report here

Conclusion

We thank the petitioner for bringing this petition before the committee and encouraging us to ascertain the views of New Zealanders on ending one’s life in this country. We appreciate that people come from a range of backgrounds and that this is a subject on which people hold strong views. We believe that the written submission and oral hearing process has provided a platform for people to share these views and discuss the issues with us. This report gives us an opportunity to summarise what we heard for the benefit of the House and the public.

Eighty percent of submitters were opposed to a change in legislation that would allow assisted dying and euthanasia. Submitters primarily argued that the public would be endangered. They cited concern for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and the disabled, those with mental illnesses, and those susceptible to coercion. Others argued that life has an innate value and that introducing assisted dying and euthanasia would explicitly undermine that idea. To do so would suggest that some lives are worth more than others. There were also concerns that, once introduced, eligibility for assisted dying would rapidly expand well beyond what was first intended.

Supporters of assisted dying feared their loss of dignity, independence, and physical and mental capacity. Submitters also spoke about the fear of pain and of having to watch loved ones suffer from a painful death. Supporters stressed their personal autonomy and that they should have the choice as to when to end their life.

Many submitters discussed their experiences of palliative care. We commend the service
given by palliative care providers and hospices. However, we were concerned to hear that there is a lack of awareness about the role of palliative care, that access to it is unequal, and that there are concerns about the sustainability of the workforce. We urge the Government to consider ways in which it can better communicate the excellent services that palliative carers provide, address the unequal access, consider how palliative care is funded, and address the workforce shortages.

The relationship between assisted dying and suicide was a common concern for submitters. Some believe that assisted dying should not be considered until New Zealand’s high suicide rate is reduced. Others believe that the lack of assisted dying legislation means that people are more likely to suicide.

We recognise that a lot of work and investment has gone into suicide prevention programmes and support services. However, we were concerned to hear that people feel that there is a lack of grief counselling. We therefore encourage the Government to investigate improving access to these services.

We have not made any recommendations about introducing assisted dying legislation. We understand that decisions on issues like this are generally a conscience vote.

The petitioner asked us to investigate attitudes towards the introduction of legislation that would permit assisted dying in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition which makes life unbearable. However, some submitters thought that the criteria would or should be broader than terminal illness or an irreversible condition. This has made it difficult for us to consider what the safeguards should be. We were particularly concerned about protecting vulnerable people, such as individuals with dementia or reduced capacity. Some of us remain unconvinced that the models seen overseas provide adequate protection for vulnerable people.

We would like to thank all of the submitters for sharing their stories with us and for the
respect submitters showed for opposing views when they appeared before the committee.

This issue is clearly very complicated, very divisive, and extremely contentious.

We therefore encourage everyone with an interest in the subject to read the report in full and to draw their own conclusions based on the evidence we have presented.

New Zealand First minority view

New Zealand First congratulates the petitioner for bringing this issue before the Select Committee. Medically-assisted dying is a serious matter and is so serious that it is not one that should be taken by temporarily empowered politicians. New Zealand First cannot support such a fundamental change without a clear sign that this is the will of most New Zealanders. That would be achieved by either a binding Citizens’ Initiated Referendum, or a Government Initiated Referendum held with a future General Election thus allowing for a period of informed debate.

74% poll support for euthanasia

Colmar Brunton’s latest poll included a question about support of euthanasia.

Asked do they think a terminally ill person should be able to receive assistance from a doctor to end their life:

  • Yes 74%
  • No 18%

This is similar to previous polls, and is a strong reason why Parliament should debate the member’s bill drawn recently.

1 News:  Poll support for euthanasia a wake-up call for undecided MPs says Seymour

ACT leader David Seymour says a 1 NEWS Colmar  Brunton poll showing three quarters of respondents support voluntary euthanasia should be a wake-up call for MPs undecided about his assisted dying bill.

MPs will vote soon after the September election on Mr Seymour’s End of Life Choice bill.

Most parties will have a conscience vote and a number of MPs are yet to make up their minds.

“Too many MPs have ignored public opinion and in a democracy you do that at your peril,” Mr Seymour said.

However…

…anti-euthanasia campaigner Renee Joubert of Euthanasia-Free NZ says poll respondents “were not asked to consider the practical implications in the real world of dysfunctional relationships, domestic and elder abuse, mental health issues”.

That’s the sort of things that Parliament should debate and seek input from the public on.

I support the freedom to choose what to do with one’s own life and death so support euthanasia in general, and I strongly support Seymour’s bill passing it’s first reading so it can be properly debated in Parliament.

There are important details and safeguards to work out so I can’t say whether I would support the bill passing into law without seeing it’s final form.

Dunne, Seymour, Flavell on euthanasia bill

Three minor party leaders were asked about their positions on the End of Life Choice Bill that was recently drawn from the Members’ ballot in a joint interview on The Nation yesterday.

Obviously ACT leader David Seymour supports his own bill.

Mr Seymour, I want to bring up your bill that was pulled from the ballot this week – euthanasia. Is it good timing for you, or could this end up being a bit too controversial for an election year?

Seymour: Look, I think it’s an important issue, and I think that the fact that it’s come up in election year is probably the best time for the bill, because MPs are overwhelmingly out of step with public opinion. I think that there are a majority of MPs that will support it, but nowhere near as close as the overwhelming support—70%, 80% of New Zealanders want this change.

From a 2015 post here:  Two polls strongly support euthanasia

One News/Colmar Brunton:

Should a patient should be able to request a doctor’s assistance to end their life?

  • Yes 75%
  • No 21%
  • Undecided 5%

3 News/Reid Research

Should law be changed to allow “assisted dying” or euthanasia?

  • Yes 71%
  • No 24%
  • Unsure 5%

Stuff:  Most Kiwis support euthanasia for those with painful, incurable diseases

  • Support: 66%
  • Neutral or unsure: 21.7%
  • Strongly oppose: 12.3%

Total response 15,822 in a University of Auckland study taking it’s results from the 2014-15 New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS) survey, which Lee said provided “reliable demographic and personality differences in support for euthanasia”.

You have quite a conservative voter base, though. What do they think? Is this party policy for Act?

Seymour: I think that people in the Act Party are in favour of freedom and choice. The Act Party board blessed me putting this bill into the ballot.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell:

Te Ururoa, you’re not keen on passing this bill, are you?

Flavell: No, and I suspect that many of our own people are. There’s some issues around whakapapa that are hugely important here. And the decision-making – actually, who has the decision-making right at the last minute, the ability of whanau to have an influence in the decision—

So is it a definite no for you?

Flavell: At the moment, it is leaning towards no, but we’re led by our people, and I’m pretty sure that that’s the feeling of many Maori.

If your people tell you otherwise, will you vote for this?

Flavell: We have to give it consideration. I mean, it’s a conscience vote, so we’ll cross that at the time. But certainly, this is one of the major issues that you’ve just got to go back to the people on.

That’s what all MPs should do on conscience votes – they should represent to conscience of their constituency.

United Future leader Peter Dunne:

Dunne: Well, I think you’ve got to respect the rights of people who are terminally ill to make their own decisions and to have those upheld by those around them. But I think—

So you’ll vote for this bill?

Dunne: No, what I’m saying is I think this is an issue where we’ve got to be very careful that we have a very clear sense of where the community stands. I’m going to do a lot of listening over the next few weeks, because this bill is not going to come before parliament – probably in the life of this parliament – but I want to hear what people say, because I think this is—

But as Mr Flavell says, it will be a conscience vote, so what does your conscience vote?

Dunne: Well, I’ve told you where I’m tending, but what I’m saying is that this is a decision that will have very widespread ramifications whichever way it goes. It’s important that we take the bulk of the population with us and we understand what their concerns are, and that’s why I’m going to do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking.

Again the right approach, but leaving how he might vote uncertain at this stage.

It seems unlikely the bill will go to it’s First reading and first vote before the election so not all current MPs will get to decide for us on this.

While I think it’s likely Seymour and Flavell will keep their seats it is less certain for Dunne.

It’s likely most Green and Labour MPs will support this bill at least past the first reading. I don’t now how NZ First MPs might vote. Most National MPs may vote against it.

But a lot may depend on who returns to Parliament after the election.

Bill English opposes euthanasia but if National lose power he may well resign.

Euthanasia ok for the King

I don’t know why this old news popped up in  Twitter, about King George V being euthanised on 1936.

1936 SECRET IS OUT: DOCTOR SPED GEORGE V’S DEATH

As he lay comatose on his deathbed in 1936, King George V was injected with fatal doses of morphine and cocaine to assure him a painless death in time, according to his physician’s notes, for the announcement to be carried ”in the morning papers rather than the less appropriate evening journals.”

The fact that the death of a reigning monarch had been medically hastened remained a secret for half a century until the publication today of the notes made at the time by Lord Dawson, the royal physician who recorded that he administered the two injections at about 11 o’clock on the night of Jan. 20, 1936. That was scarcely an hour and a half after Lord Dawson had written a classically brief medical bulletin that declared, ”The King’s life is moving peacefully toward its close.”

That ”close” came in less than an hour after the injections. Lord Dawson, according to his notes, had already taken the precaution of phoning his wife in London to ask that she ”advise The Times to hold back publication.’

”A Peaceful Ending at Midnight,” said the headline the next morning in the newspaper that was deemed to be the most appropriate vehicle for major announcements to the nation.

British class snobbery with media.

Lord Dawson’s notes assert that he had been told by Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales that they did not want the King’s life needlessly prolonged if his illness was clearly fatal. There is no indication that the King himself had been consulted.

It is not clear from the notes how explicit Lord Dawson was in the exchange he reported with the Queen and Prince about the method of ending the King’s life, or whether this conversation had been initiated by the family or the physician.

Ten months later Lord Dawson spoke on euthanasia in a debate in the House of Lords.

The royal physician spoke against a bill that would have legalized the practice but he did so without condemning euthanasia. Instead, describing it as a ”mission of mercy,” he argued it was a matter best left to the conscience of individual physicians rather than official regulators.

”One should make the act of dying more gentle and more peaceful even if it does involve curtailment of the length of life,” he told his fellow peers. ”That has become increasingly the custom. This may be taken as something accepted.”

Calling for a ”gentle growth of euthanasia,” rather than a removal of all restraints by legislation, Lord Dawson went on to say, ”If we cannot cure for heaven’s sake let us do our best to lighten the pain.”

Left to the conscience of individual physicians, and stuff the law, and don’t consult the dying person?

I wonder if these sorts of views figure in opposition by doctors to change the law on euthanasia now.

The King’s last words:

The King, who was 71, had been in failing health for some months with a chronic bronchial complaint, but his final illness was brief. It was only four days before his death that the Queen sent for Lord Dawson. On the morning of his last day, he managed a 10-minute meeting with his privy counselors.

After his death, it was reported that his last words had come in the form of a question to his private secretary. ”How is the Empire?” he was said to have asked.

But Lord Dawson’s notes report a subsequent exclamation, which came after dinner when he was injected with a small dose of morphine to enable him to sleep more easily. ”God damn you,” the King said, according to the notes, as he fell asleep.

No indication who or what ‘you’ was.

Later that evening, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang, prayed at the bedside of the unconscious King. Once the Archbishop retired, Lord Dawson prepared the fatal injections, consisting of three-quarters of a gram of morphine and one gram of cocaine.

Was the King’s death a result of collusion between the doctor and the Archbishop?

Ten months later, the Archbishop followed Lord Dawson as a speaker in the euthanasia debate in the House of Lords, praising the speech the royal physician had just given.

Euthanasia still has not been legalized in Britain. The Voluntary Euthanasia Society said today that it had not yet decided what, if anything, it wanted to say about the death of King George V 50 years ago.

The plebs still have no choice (legally) in how they might die. Perhaps King George had no choice either – that is something that suggested euthanasias would protect.

These days timing someone’s death for the convenience of The Times probably wouldn’t happen.

Would it be the doctor or the priest tweeting “We knocked the bastard off”?

 

English, Little, Ardern on abortion laws

1 News chose to make Bill English’s views on abortion it’s headline story from the Q+A interviews with English and Andrew little on Sunday.

English, Little at loggerheads over abortion law reform

‘Loggerheads’ is nonsense – English and Little have different views on abortion but neither sound interested in putting much priority on doing anything about our sham abortion laws.

English even indicated he had no inclination to change the current law – “I mean, it’s a law that’s stood the test of time.” He then diverted to other social issues he was more interested in dealing with.

Political editor for 1 NEWS Corin Dann asked Mr English about the issue on TVNZ’s current affairs show Q+A this morning.

Mr Dann mentioned that prime ministers tended to set the tone for conscience vote issues, and said Mr English’s vote would be quite significant in an issue like abortion.

“The Abortion Supervisory Committee has recommended an update of our abortion laws, they’re outdated and clumsy,” said Mr Dann.

“Would you stand in the way of that, given that you’re not in favour of liberalising abortions?

Mr English replied: “That’s right, I’m not, and I wouldn’t vote for legislation that did”.

The Prime Minister went on to say that it would be an issue dealt with in a parliamentary vote, and his would be one vote in 121. He hoped that others would vote with him.

Despite the headline there was no mention of Little, his views or his differences with English.

Here is the whole section of the interview:

CORIN But it’s a different story when you’re Prime Minister because we saw with John Key when he voted for gay marriage, that was a big impetus to that legislation. We’ve seen it with the smacking legislation in previous years gone by. Prime ministers set the tone, and if you’re socially conservative, what I’m curious about is how you behave around a social conscience vote is quite significant. For example, the Abortion Advisory Committee has recommended an update of our abortion laws; they’re outdated and clumsy. Would you stand in the way of that, given that, I’m presuming, you’re not in favour of liberalising abortions?

BILL That’s right, I’m not, and I wouldn’t vote for legislation that did.

CORIN What about a law that just updated it, modernised it, which is what they’re calling for?

BILL Well, I think what they mean is liberalise it, and we wouldn’t do that. I mean, it’s a law that’s standed the test of time. But, look, the Parliament has ways of working with this. They know how I would vote, but also they can— You know, I’m focusing on a whole wider set of issues, and many views that I think have traditionally been regarded as socially conservative turning out to be pretty useful. For instance, cracking some of our worst social problems is about trying to rebuild families that have been shattered by dependency, offending, abuse, and as a government we’re focusing on achieving that.

CORIN I think you’ll find the Abortion Advisory Committee does not think it’s standing the test of time and that it’s an outdated, clumsy, sexist piece of legislation.

BILL Well, look, they’re free to have their opinion. They know what my opinion is. The Parliament would deal with the issue, I’m sure, one way or another if it came up.

CORIN But would you stand in the way of it? You’re Prime Minister; you’re signalling that’s something you’re not interested in reforming.

BILL Well, I’m signalling that as a parliamentarian with one vote out of 121, and I hope others would vote with me.

CORIN Yeah, but the most important vote, isn’t it?

BILL Well, no, on conscience issues you are just one vote. I’ve seen this process work in the past, and I’d vote my way.

CORIN But it sets the tone, doesn’t it?

BILL Well, look, if it does, in that case, I’m quite happy that it sets the tone of not rushing into big changes in abortion law.

English remains opposed to abortion but seems unenthusiastic about changing how things work at this stage.

Little was asked about abortion in his interview:

CORIN Andrew Little, likewise, if you are Prime Minister, it will be you who sets the tone often with these issues. You’re not so keen on euthanasia, is that right? Where do you sit on the issues, these social issues that come forth if you are Prime Minister?

ANDREW I personally support euthanasia. I personally support Maryan Street’s bill. I just did not regard it as a priority for Labour when we just had an election where we got 25% of the vote. There were bigger priorities to deal with. On abortion, I support the recommendation to have an inquiry to update and upgrade that legislation. I support women’s choice.

CORIN What do you make of Bill English’s comments? He thought this was an attempt by the advisory committee at liberalisation. I mean, are you surprised that he would feel that way, that the law isn’t outdated in his mind?

ANDREW I mean, he is a social conservative. He’s deeply conservative on an issue like abortion. I happen to differ from him on that. I think that the advisory committee is right. The legislation has been around for the best part of 40 years. It does need to be reviewed and upgraded, and I agree with Jacinda. We should not have it in the Crimes Act. It is not a crime.

But as with his reluctance to put forward attempts to change the law on euthanasia (he canned a Labour private Member’s Bill on it)  Little is unlikely to make abortion law reform ‘a priority’.

Abortion was one issue that Jacinda Ardern showed some depth of knowledge and opinion on:

CORIN Jacinda, if we could turn to some of the social issues in that interview with Bill English. Where do you sit on this issue of abortion law? Does it need to be reformed?

JACINDA Yeah. And these are, as he rightly pointed out, all conscience issues. I think a lot of New Zealanders would be surprised to know that currently those laws are contained in the Crimes Act 1961. And so, for obvious reasons, that has been raised by the Abortion Supervisory Committee. So they’ve called for a review, and when you’ve still got abortion in the Crimes Act, that’s understandable, and it would be timely. But my position on issues like this has always been regardless of what my view is, why should I impose that view on others and remove their choice? I had the same view when it came to things like civil unions or marriage equality – that people should have that choice available to them. And is it our position as lawmakers to stand in the way of people accessing choice that should be there?

CORIN So if, for example, you were in a position where you were a minister in government, you wouldn’t pick up those recommendations; you’d leave it to a member’s bill? Is that what you’re saying?

JACINDA Look, I think those recommendations do need to be pursued. That’s my view, but it is a conscience vote.

As both Ardern and English pointed out it’s a conscience issue, so it won’t be a major party versus party election issue.

Corin Dan was trying to make a contentious story out bugger all.

Currently abortion is legal in New Zealand if two certifying doctors determine there is a risk of serious danger to the life or mental health of the mother (those signatures are easy to get in practice) , and in cases of severe mental or physical handicap of the fetus, incest, or severe mental subnormality of the mother.

Interview transcripts:

http://business.scoop.co.nz/2017/03/12/tvnz-1-qa-prime-minister-bill-english/

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1703/S00151/tvnz-1-qa-andrew-little-and-jacinda-ardern.htm

Colorado’s End of Life Options Act

From the US election (Fivethirtyeight):


Colorado Votes ’Yes’ On Medical Aid In Dying

ABC News has called a win for Colorado Prop. 106, the “End of Life Options Act.” This makes Colorado the fifth state with legislation to allow terminally ill people access to medication to humanely end their lives.

Colorado Votes On An End-Of-Life Measure

In 2014, the story of a young woman with fatal brain cancer began making the rounds online and on TV news shows. Twenty-nine-year-old Brittany Maynard knew she was dying, and she wanted to do so on her own terms, by taking prescribed medication if her pain became resistant to morphine and unbearable. This desire prompted her to move to Oregon, where, by the time she died on Nov. 1, 2014, she had become perhaps the most widely known user of Oregon’s Measure 16, called the Death with Dignity Act. Maynard’s activism brought new attention to right-to-die legislation, and her widower, Dan Diaz, has lent his support to Colorado Proposition 106, the End of Life Options Act, which would make Colorado the fifth state to permit some form of assisted suicide.

Modeled on Oregon Measure 16, Proposition 106 would allow terminally ill patients (those with less than six months to live, as determined by two doctors) to take a lethal dose of medication. To receive the drugs, the person would be required to voluntarily request it three times — twice orally and once in writing — with witnesses present. The measure would also criminalize the coercion of patients.

A September Rocky Mountain PBS and Colorado Mesa University showed that 70 percent of registered voters favored the measure. Advocates include Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Boulder and Denver Medical Societies. A February 2016 survey of members of the Colorado Medical Society, the largest physicians organization in Colorado, found that 56 percent of respondents supported “physician assisted suicide.” The Catholic Church and disability rights groups are among those rallying against the measure, and the Denver Post also has come out against it, over concerns that it could “entice insurers to drop expensive treatments for terminal patients.”