End of Life Choice Bill first reading – Tracey Martin

Speech from  NZ First MP Tracey Martin in the first reading of the End of life Choice Bill on 13 December 2017.


First Reading

Hon TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First): Kia ora, Mr Speaker. Thank you very much. I rise on behalf of New Zealand First to take a call on this bill. Can I first of all just acknowledge with deep respect every single member of the House and the opinion that they will share. This is a conscience vote, and every single member of the House is taking it seriously. There is no flippancy here.

But I look around me and I see farmers and accountants and lawyers and debt collectors and teachers and journalists and social workers and religious leaders. Not a single one of us is smarter than the people who placed us here. Not a single one of us has more of a conscience or less of a conscience than the people who voted us here. This issue should go to them. This is too big an issue for this House to decide that 120 New Zealanders have more conscience or more right to have this conversation than they do.

I want to acknowledge David Seymour, and I acknowledge the work that he has put in to bringing this issue—his belief, his passion for it, and, I believe, his true empathy for those who are in these circumstances. I want to acknowledge David Seymour, and the fact that he—and I acknowledge the work that he has put in to bring this issue, his belief, his passion for it, and, I believe, his true empathy for those who are in these circumstances. I want to acknowledge the commitment he has made to New Zealand First, and the commitment that New Zealand First has made to him. So New Zealand First will be voting as a bloc in favour of this legislation at first reading, based on the commitment that Mr Seymour and the New Zealand First caucus have made to each other, and we will honour that commitment.

I cared for my great grandparents, my grandparents, and my father all through their passing. It was probably my grandfather that I think of most with regard to this bill, when dementia started to take him, and the nights that he would wake and I would find him in the hallway, petrified of where he was and who I was. And then in the morning, after we had calmed him and sat with him and then he woke—and I remember he would say to me, “Trace, if I could push a button, I’d end it now.” Did he mean the dementia, or did he mean his life? I don’t know.

For me, this is something I need to grapple with. Every single one of us needs to search ourselves and speak to those around us and have a bigger conversation with New Zealand. I take on board the comments by Mr Seymour with regard to those who in the public domain have run polls to say that the country is in favour of this—or 79 percent is in favour. But I take on board Mr O’Connor’s comments with regard to the Health Committee and the huge percentage who came and said they were opposed. The issue we have is that it depends on how you frame the question—

Hon Louise Upston: Which is why—

Hon TRACEY MARTIN: —hence why—I can hear Ms Upston—there is a way that New Zealand First believes that this bill, in its entirety, should be placed in front of the New Zealand public, with a regulatory impact statement, with all the information that we—we, who are no better than they—use to base our opinion on, our conscience on. So we may need to actually change some other pieces of legislation as this goes through the process of the select committee to make sure that if and when this House votes for a binding referendum in the public domain that we give the public the same information that we are given and that we are going to make a decision on here this evening. Thank you, Mr Speaker.