Seymour and ‘alt-right’ versus female MPs

Act MP David Seymour was stronly criticised – and supported – for comments he made about Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, in particular “she is a real menace to freedom”.

“I just think that Golriz Ghahraman is completely wrong, I don’t know if she understands what she’s saying, but she is a real menace to freedom in this country, whether or not she understands that she is, and I think that it’s important that all right-thinking New Zealanders say “the true danger ah… to any society is rulers who put in place rules and regulations saying you’re not allowed to express yourself” – that’s how tyranny begins.

And I’d just invite people to have a look at speeches that Xi Jing Ping gives and speeches that Golriz Ghahraman gives, and it’s actually very difficult to tell the difference. I actually looked at a couple of paragraphs – one paragraph from each – I tried to guess which was which – and ah… Xi Jing Ping actually looked like a more liberal ah guy on this issue than Golriz Ghahraman.”

It was claimed that this contributed to an escalation in online attacks against Ghahraman which led to Parliament providing increased security for Ghahraman after she got more death threats.

Seymour and Judith Collins were interviewed by Sean Plunket: Judith Collins labeled ‘ageist’ as David Seymour attacks her defence of Golriz Ghahraman

Collins:

He referred to her as being a menace to society. I don’t think she is a menace to society. I think her views are not ones that I agree with, and I would agree with him on that. And I think that she is very illiberal when it comes to people’s freedom of speech but that bit does not mean to say that he needs to put it in such a personal way that he did, against her personally.

And my view is that parliament is a very tough place, but actually for some people it’s a lot tougher and she is someone who gives a lot of stuff back to people but she also, I think at the moment, is getting a lot more than what she deserves. And I just think it’s time we calmed down in parliament, and outside of parliament, and remembered that she is just a human being.

I have no problem with David doing what he does, except that if he does then he can expect me to make a comment about it.

So, actually, just like he wants to express his free speech, I am expressing mine, which is that we need to be a little bit kinder towards each other even when the other person has views entirely different from ourselves, and we don’t need to always make it so personal. That’s my feeling.

Seymour was unrepentant:

If people think that me saying that a politician who wants to expand the powers of the state to decide what you’re allowed to say and when they hear me say it, think that the way I say it is more important than the issue of freedom of speech then I think that person has their priorities wrong.

And I do think that a politician who wants to put stricter boundaries around what people are allowed to say, when they genuinely believe it, is a menace, not to our society, but to give me my proper quote, to freedom in our society. Because that is how tyranny begins and I think we should be a lot more worried about that, than how exactly it is said.

The counter claim has been that stoking up abuse and attacks against an MP, deliberately or not, is also a menace to society.

Yesterday from 1 News: Speaker Trevor Mallard says David Seymour bullied Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman

When asked by TVNZ1’s Breakfast host John Campbell if the comments made by Mr Seymour on radio show Magic last week were bullying, he responded “yes”.

“In my opinion that did step over the line,” Mr Mallard says. “It’s not a breach of privilege because it didn’t happen in the House. It’s not a criminal offence but I think it showed poor judgement.”

He said bullying needed to be called out, and said it was leaders and senior staff who needed to step up against bullying.

Seymour responded: Free speech debate shows hate speech laws are a bad idea

The response to my recent comments on free speech proves we cannot trust government to enforce hate speech laws”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Speaker Trevor Mallard is the latest to denounce my views and try to shut down any criticism of those who would take away our right to freedom of expression.

“Imagine if the state had even greater powers to punish speech at its disposal.

“The Government, emboldened by the Twitter mob, would now be using that power to investigate and punish a sitting MP’s genuinely-held views.

“Hate speech laws turn debate into a popularity contest where the winners get to silence views they don’t like by using the power of the state.

“We find ourselves in an astonishing situation: an MP can vigorously campaign to take away our right to freedom of expression, but, if another MP criticises them, Parliament’s Speaker says they are a bully.

“Freedom of expression is one of the most important values our society has. It cannot be abandoned because anyone, let alone Parliament’s Speaker, weighs in with accusations against anyone who defends it.

“ACT will continue to defend the critical principle that nobody should ever be punished by the power of the state on the basis of opinion.”

Calling out bullying speech is also free speech. As a number of female MPs have done:

Newshub: Women MPs urge David Seymour to apologise for Golriz Ghahraman remarks

A cross-party group representing women in Parliament has urged David Seymour to apologise for remarks he made about Green MP Golriz Ghahraman.

Signed by Labour MP Louisa Wall and National MP Jo Hayes – co-chairs of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) New Zealand group – the letter asks that Seymour “reflect” on his “behaviour”.

“We ask that you reflect on your behaviour and consider offering a public apology to Golriz for the comments made, preferably in the House,” the letter addressed to Seymour reads.

The co-chairs said they’d received requests from members of the CWP group urging them to “take appropriate action” on their behalf in response to comments made by Seymour “in reference to a member of the House, Golriz Ghahraman”.

The letter acknowledged how Seymour didn’t make the comments in Parliament and couldn’t be held to account by Standing Orders – the rules of procedure for the House.

But it went on to tell Seymour: “We, as women MPs, consider your behaviour towards a colleague who has been under attack with death threats and is already in a vulnerable position is unacceptable”.

Again Seymour was unrepentant.

Seymour responded to the letter saying he was “disappointed” to receive it, and that the group “seem to believe that expressing a sincerely held view on an important topic makes me responsible for threats of violence”.

Seymour said the comments he made “do not come close to giving me such responsibility”, adding: “Your belief would absolve the real perpetrators, those making the threats, of responsibility.

“You also introduce a worrying implication that some MPs are unable to fully participate or be criticised because there are violent threats. You are effectively letting violent thugs set the agenda.”

No, they are trying to confront violent thugs from setting the agenda.

Seymour is getting into very risky territory here. He is appealing to the alt-right in social media but I think may be being fooled by how much voter support this might represent.

It has been reported that Act intends rebranding as a party this year. Seymour seems to be already attempting a rebranding.

But I think he would do well to consider the responsibilities of how an MP speaks in relation to free speech, especially when associated with hate speech.

For MPs, what they say can have consequences. They can give credence and support to abusive minorities. And they can also affect voter support. If Seymour lurches too far alt-right he risks becoming too toxic for National to make it easy for him in Epsom.

 

MP requires protection after escalation in death threats, but abuse continues

Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman now requires a security escort after an escalation in threats being made against her.

She has attracted a lot of attention in social media, and some of it from bad to despicable. I get it that some people don’t like some of what she champions and proposes, but there is no excuse for the levels of abuse she has been subjected to.

Even after the police protection was publicised there were people on Twitter blaming her for attracting abuse, and making excuses for abuse.

RNZ: Green MP Golriz Ghahraman gets security escort

Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman will have a security escort with her whenever she leaves Parliament after her security risk was escalated by police.

Ms Ghahraman said it came after a Newshub story about white supremacy revealed she was being talked about in a dangerous manner.

Her safety was put at further risk after comments made by the ACT leader David Seymour that she was a “real menace to freedom in this country”, she said.

“As you can imagine, it’s distressing to have secret white supremacist groups talking about you and to have that escalated to the level of the mainstream and I think it kind of gives us all a feeling of how those targeted communities feel.”

However, Mr Seymour disputed her safety was put at risk by his comments.

“She’s someone who gives back as good, if not a lot more, than she gets in political debate.”

Seymour has got himself into a precarious situation with this. He has helped feed to abusers and conspiracy theorists.

But he said nobody in this country deserved to be threatened with violence and no MP should have to shrink from political debate because some people were thugs and bullies.

He should take a good look at the rhetoric and escalating abuse that he has become a part of.

Scott Hamilton RTM @SikotiHamiltonR:

Seymour’s words about resonated with a conspiracy theory that’s been growing amongst conservative Pakeha since March the 15th. Visitors to the popular facebook page of former Act adman John Ansell can see the conspiracy in full bloom. Ansell & co believe that a slow moving coup d’etat began on March the 15th.

As bizarre as it sounds, they consider the atrocities of that day a ‘false flag operation’, designed to legitimise the elimination of democracy by Ardern’s ‘communist’ government. Ansell & co think they’re targets.

When Seymour called a menace to freedom, b/c she has been advocating law changes after March the 15th, his words were treated by Ansell & his fellow paranoics as further evidence of a coup d’etat & coming civil war. Seymour’s feeding some worrying delusions

There are already claims that Ghahraman requiring protection is a set up as part of a conspiracies that have been spreading – for more see Wacky conspiracies being pushed at Whale Oil.

@fhill16n Twitter:

Just to build on the conspiracy angle I see there’s a theory going around that Golriz’s need for security is being faked / overstated and is being driven by the “left-wing media” and our “communist government”

If anyone tries any of that sort of ‘speculation’ or conspiracy mongering here without any evidence to back up what they claim they will find they are not welcome here.

Since 15 March there has been a noticeable lift in abuse and making excuses for abuse.

Ghahraman has brought some criticism on herself with some of what she has claimed and proposed, but that is no reason to excuse an escalation in abuse. This is a worrying  in New Zealand politics.

 

Q+A: free speech versus hate speech

On NZ Q+A last night Labour MP Louisa Wall and Act MP David Seymour debate free speech versus hate speech.

Louisa Wall:

We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist, and hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia.

And from my experience we haven’t really looked at whether out current legislation is fit for purpose, and specifically section 61 of the Human Rights Act, which is what I took the old Nesbitt cartoons in 2013 to the Human Rights Commission. So that was about racial disharmony.

But in fact I think civil disharmony has now become an agenda item that we all are investigating.

David Seymour:

I find it detestable that people target each other based on their race or their gender or their sexuality, and I’ve got a track record for that, when the Labour Party went through the phone book and targeted people for having Chinese sounding names I was the first politician to stand up to that. When the New Zealand First Party said that Kanwaljit Bakshi and Melissa Lee should go home to their home countries I stood up to that.

My concern is that, free expression is one of the most important  parts of the human condition. We all experience the world differently, and we should be able to talk about that and express our thoughts and feelings.

Secondly, not only is it a very important human value, but it’s an important part of how we work through our troubles as a society, so if you look at the places in the world that have managed to actually fight bigotry and racism, it’s the places where we actually allow people to discuss their differences and work through them on the basis that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will not hurt me.

1 News cover:  MPs David Seymour and Louisa Wall clash over Israel Folau case during hate speech debate

Mr Seymour called the Australian rugby player’s anti-gay Instagram post “so ridiculous” and Ms Wall hit back that it’s not ridiculous if you’re a young gay person coming out.

“You’ve had a series of really quite absurd cases where people have been spoken to by the police for things they said on Twitter. And yet as they’ve measured it, the amount of hateful rhetoric in the UK has increased there too,” Seymour said.

“So I’m just not convinced that these laws will work, and they can actually create cynicism.”

“Can I give you the example of Israel Folau. Now what the guy recently put on Instagram is that if you’re gay, when you die you will go to a fiery pit in the ground. I mean it’s so ridiculous. He’s been ridiculed…”

Ms Wall interrupted saying, “It’s not ridiculous if you’re a young gay person, David, who’s coming out. And he has done this three times. Last year when he said it there was nationwide and also Australian wide condemnation.”

Seymour: “Look, you know if he had had the Australian police show up at his door and say, ‘we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to discipline you’ or whatever, I think he would have actually instead of being ridiculed around the world as he was, quite rightly, I think he actually could have become a martyr.

“And that’s what’s happened to some extent in the UK. You can actually end up creating more resentment with these kinds of laws.”

Ms Wall said she believed tighter hate speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch attack, saying “we would have been able to call them out”.

“We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist. And hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia,” she said.

I think that Wall is right, hate speech can normalise attacks on groups of people, it can encourage and incite more hate speech.

But I don’t think it is possible to claim that tighter speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch massacres. They may have helped prevent the attacks, but they may have made no difference, and they may even have made an person like Tarrant more determined to attack.

The full debate:

 

Misinformation on euthanasia polls and support

For years polls have indicated significant majority support for legalising some sort of assisted dying/assisted suicide/euthanasia.

Opponents of the End of Life Choice Bill currently working it’s way through Parliament have been trying to discredit the polls and have falsely claimed a majority of submissions on the Bill represents some sort of majority opposition. Groups who oppose euthanasia, in particular the Catholic Church, organised submissions to boost the opposing numbers – see Record number of submissions on euthanasia Bill.

In a debate on Newshub Nation yesterday Peter Thirkell from anti-euthanasia group Care Alliance promoted the submission numbers while dismissing poll history.

What I would say to that figure of 40,000 and your analysis saying 90 per cent was against the bill is that outside of the select committee process, there’s been a lot of polls which seem to indicate that the public is in favour of some form of assisted dying.

Thirkell: Well, polls are fairly whimsical things. They tend to be single-question things. They’re usually framed in a way— They use soft language like ‘assisted dying’, ‘with the approval and assistance of the doctor’, and, you know, ‘given certain safeguards’.

That seems to describe the aims of the bill.

That really doesn’t carry the weight of expert evidence. There were 54,000 pages of evidence that went to the select committee. Over 600 doctors wrote in, and 93 per cent of them were opposed; 800 nurses, 93% opposed. So almost 2000 medical professionals, and 94 per cent of them were opposed, so these are the experts that are speaking out on the bill.

There was not 38,000 experts submitting on the bill – ‘experts’ were only a very small proportion of the overall number of submitters.

The Care Alliance have been disingenuous claiming that a majority of submissions represents public opinion, it doesn’t do anything like that. It  mostly indicts an organised campaign to  boost the number of submissions opposing the bill.

Seymour: Well, first of all, the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders don’t make submissions to the select committee. That’s their choice. It doesn’t mean that their views are less valid. The same with nurses, the same with doctors. And I think Dr Thirkell needs to ask himself, as do most people that oppose this bill, why it is that over 20 years New Zealanders have consistently said…70 per cent, 75 per cent of New Zealanders consistently say that they want choice in this area…

A website called ‘a NEW ZEALAND RESOURCE for LIFE related issues’ on Public Opinion Polls:

Polls have been asking the following (or similar) question regularly since the 1960s and ’70s: “If a hopelessly ill patient, in great pain, with absolutely no chance of recovering, asks for a lethal dose, so as not to wake again, should the doctor be allowed to give the lethal dose?”, and the number in favour has steadily increased from about 50 to nearly 80 percent.

As one commentator said, it would be hard for an uninformed person to say “no” to that question without feeling negligent, dogmatic or insensitive.

But when the current ability of good palliative care to relieve the severe pain of terminal illness is known, though it it also known tragically not to be sufficiently available, the same question could be more accurately put: “If a doctor is so negligent as to leave a terminally-ill patient in pain, severe enough to drive him / her to ask to be killed, should the doctor be able to compound that negligence by killing the patient, instead of seeking help?” 

The question is really about medical standards, not euthanasia.

That suggested question is hopelessly slanted and would be terrible for a poll.

And “the following (or similar) question” is nothing like questions asked in euthanasia polls.

Ironically that website claims in About Us:

ESTABLISHING THE TRUTH

We believe that it is enormously beneficial for the public of New Zealand to be able to establish truth for themselves (with the assistance of a website like this one) rather than to rely on information that may be biased, or that is deliberately kept incomplete.

It has been our firm belief, throughout the development of this website, that people will recognise the truth when it is spoken, and that access to more information will empower them to make wiser decisions than if they have partial information, and therefore have a lesser, or shallower understanding of the issues.

Their lack of truthfulness would condemn them to hell based on Israel Folau’s recent proclamation.

The actual truth

A survey done by Massey University in 2003 showed that 73% wanted assisted suicide legalised if it was performed by a doctor, but if done by others support dropped to 49%. The wording of the questions were:

“Suppose a person has a painful incurable disease. Do you think that doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life if the patient requests it?”

“Still thinking of that person with a painful incurable disease. Do you think that someone else, like a close relative, should be allowed by law to help end the patient’s life, if the patient requests it?”

A survey carried out on behalf of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society in 2008 showed that 71% of New Zealanders want to have it legalised. The question read:

“In some countries, though not all, if you have an illness that results in your being unable to have an acceptable quality of life, you are legally allowed to get help from a doctor to help you to die. If you had an illness or condition which resulted in your having a quality of life that was totally unacceptable to you, would you like to have the legal right to choose a medically assisted death?”

Another survey by Massey University in 2008 gave similar results.

Horizon poll in 2017: Q.1  Do you support a law change to allow medical practitioners to assist people to die, where a request has come from a mentally competent patient, 18 years or over, who has end stage terminal disease and irreversible unbearable suffering, e.g. cancer?

  • Strongly support 46%
  • Support 29%
  • Neither support nor oppose 8%
  • Oppose 3%
  • Strongly oppose 8%
  • Not sure 6%

Q.2  Do you support a law change to allow medical practitioners to assist people to die, where such a request has come from a mentally competent patient, 18 years and over, who has irreversible unbearable suffering which may not cause death in the immediate future, e.g.: motor neurone disease?

  • Strongly support 33%
  • Support 33%
  • Neither support nor oppose 15%
  • Oppose 6%
  • Strongly oppose 9%
  • Not sure 5%

The current Bill is unlikely to allow euthanasia in that situation. It is likely to require that an illness is terminal with death likely within 6 months. But there is still only 15% oppose or strongly oppose.

Colmar Brunton in 2017 asked “Parliament is to consider a new bill on euthanasia. Do you think a person who is terminally or incurably ill should be able to request the assistance of a doctor to end their life?”

  • Yes 74%
  • No 18%
  • Don’t know 9%

Newshub in 2018 – 71% support, 19.5% oppose:

So very similar results from Colmar Brunton and Reid Research in recent polls, and similar from Horizon, and their questions were nothing like what was suggested above.

See commentary and poll details at NZ Parliament Assisted dying: New Zealand

 

 

Seymour v Thirkell debate euthanasia and End of Life Choice bill

Act Party Leader David Seymour and Care Alliance Secretary Peter Thirkell were on Newshub Nation yesterday morning (repeated this morning) to debate New Zealander’s right to choose the way they die.

 


Simon Shepherd: The euthanasia debate is gaining momentum as the End of Life Choice Bill approaches its second reading in Parliament next month.The author of the controversial bill – Act MP David Seymour – is planning three changes including limiting it to those with a terminal illness – but will they be enough to sway its opponents? David joins me now, along with Peter Thirkell from anti-euthanasia group Care Alliance. Thanks for your time this morning. To you first, David Seymour. The justice select committee process had nearly 40,000 submissions. Do you accept there are flaws in your bill?

David Seymour: No, I don’t. You know, the bill was examined by the select committee. They’ve come back with a number of minor and technical changes to make sure that the way that it’s written aligns with its intention, and that’s what should happen. That’s why we send bills to select committees, and I’m very pleased.

Yeah, but surely, there are flaws, because you’re proposing changes to them.

Seymour: No. Just because you want to make something better doesn’t mean that it’s flawed. I think the major change that’s occurred and the major change that I’m now proposing is that it’s become clear from listening to people, including the public and also my fellow members of parliament, that there is not support for a bill that is for people who don’t have the terminal prognosis within six months. So that’s an easy fix. That was already one of the criteria — was people who are terminal within six months would be able to access the bill if they so choose. We simply narrow it and make it only that, and that’s the law-making process. That’s listening, that’s changing, that’s improving, and that’s getting a bill passed that everybody’s happy with.

So, Peter, how do you feel about those changes that are being proposed?

Peter Thirkell: Well, the bill that’s going to the parliament for the second reading is in fact in its present form. So David has indicated some changes he has in mind, but that’s all they are. The present bill is the present bill. And as you alluded to, 40,000 New Zealanders wrote in expressing concerns. A lot of expert evidence. Ninety per cent of the submissions were opposed. But importantly, within that, there were sub-groups like doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals — groups, peak medical organisations and such. So a lot of expert evidence, and there isn’t one sub-group constituency within the submissions that supports this bill.

What I would say to that figure of 40,000 and your analysis saying 90 per cent was against the bill is that outside of the select committee process, there’s been a lot of polls which seem to indicate that the public is in favour of some form of assisted dying.

Thirkell: Well, polls are fairly whimsical things. They tend to be single-question things. They’re usually framed in a way— They use soft language like ‘assisted dying’, ‘with the approval and assistance of the doctor’, and, you know, ‘given certain safeguards’. That really doesn’t carry the weight of expert evidence. There were 54,000 pages of evidence that went to the select committee. Over 600 doctors wrote in, and 93 per cent of them were opposed; 800 nurses, 93% opposed. So almost 2000 medical professionals, and 94 per cent of them were opposed, so these are the experts that are speaking out on the bill.

OK. So, David Seymour, what do you say to that?

Seymour: Well, first of all, the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders don’t make submissions to the select committee. That’s their choice. It doesn’t mean that their views are less valid. The same with nurses, the same with doctors. And I think Dr Thirkell needs to ask himself, as do most people that oppose this bill, why it is that over 20 years New Zealanders have consistently said — and this is according to polling companies, such as Reid Research, that Newshub relies on; polling companies that predicted the last election to within one per cent — not that I was happy about that, but they’re good, and they’re accurate — 70 per cent, 75 per cent of New Zealanders consistently say that they want choice in this area, and I would give two-word answer to why that is. Life experience. Because New Zealanders have seen bad death, and they’ve said, ‘If my time comes, I’m in a position where palliative care can’t help me,’ – and for some people, that is a reality, as it’s widely accepted – ‘then I want to be able to choose. It’s my life. It’s my right. It’s my choice to be able to choose how I go and when I go, not to suffer, writhing in agony, to satisfy somebody else’s idea of what a good death is.’

I just want to pick up on something that Peter Thirkell has said about medical professions submitting to the select committee process. One of the issues is that even the medical associations express concern about the reliability of predicting how long someone will live. So they may fall into the eligibility and have a timeframe of six months, and it gets turned on its head. So, I mean, what’s an acceptable level of error there?

Seymour: Well, they’re—

Thirkell: Well—

David first.

Seymour: Can we actually just go back to the fact that this is a choice? It’s your life; it’s your choice; it’s your right. So, yes, it is true that new treatments come along. It is true that people will bad prognoses make miraculous recoveries, and everybody who wants to choose this bill has to weigh that up. But what is not right is that people who don’t have that kind of fortune have to suffer just in case. This is about a personal choice. It’s not about imposing one person’s morality on everybody else.

So is that what you’re saying, that Peter’s imposing his morality on everybody else?

Seymour: Well, if you accept that this bill is safe, and that is the position of the Supreme Court of Canada, it’s—

Thirkell: That is highly contested.

Seymour: Well, no.

Thirkell: That is unsafe, based on overseas evidence. People who are vulnerable are at risk.

OK, gentlemen. Let’s just pause there.

Seymour: Which one of us would you like to answer the question?

I’d like to ask Peter a question. What about choice, as David is saying?

Thirkell: Well, choices have consequences, and the harsh consequence of this bill is that a medical practitioner, a doctor, has to take a lethal injection and put it into a patient and end their life. Although, it is not a choice for the person alone. By definition, it implicates someone else. If you create a moral opportunity for someone to elect to die, then you create a moral duty for someone to actually carry that out. You can’t act alone, and—

Serymour: Well, with the greatest of respect—

Thirkell: …therein lies the rub.

Seymour: The bill is incredibly clear. Nobody has to do anything they don’t want to do. If you’re a doctor, and you want nothing to do with this, then you can conscientiously object. Now, I’d just like to come back to the evidence about doctors — the New Zealand Medical Association’s done a survey, almost 40 per cent of doctors are in favour. Two thirds of nurses are in favour.

Thirkell: Well, I contest that.

Seymour: Well, OK. People can look it up for themselves.

All right. We’ll let people—

Seymour: That’s what the data is.

Thirkell: The NZMA says this is an unethical practice, and it will remain unethical even if the law passes. So what the Parliament is at risk of doing is imposing on the medical profession an unethical practice.

Seymour: Well, the Canadian Medical Association has just elected a doctor who is in favour of their legislation.

Thirkell: We’re talking about New Zealand. There are lots of problems in Canada.

Can I ask something about Canada? You’ve brought Canada up. Now, Canada — one of the major concerns about enacting this kind of legislation is whether it’s going to be a gateway or a slippery slope to people like minors or people with disabilities or who have a mental illness being able to access this. Now, that’s not allowed under the bill at the moment, but is that a possibility? That’s one of the concerns, isn’t it, David?

Seymour: Well, no, it’s not. Frankly, it’s one of the weakest arguments that people make.

But Canada’s looking at that right now.

Thirkell: There are over 2000 submissions.

Seymour: When the Canadians passed their law, they passed a law that said, ‘In a couple of years, Parliament must review the law.’ My bill does the same thing. That’s right, and that’s democratic. You’ve now got people submitting and saying, ‘Well, maybe it should change this way, maybe it should change that.’

So that’s a possibility.

Seymour: But to say because somebody in Canada has raised the possibility is a bit like a Canadian saying, ‘Well, I’ve read the ACT Party website, and New Zealand’s about to get a flat tax.’ The fact that some Canadian says it doesn’t mean that Canada’s going to do it.

It sounds like, Peter, you say that more than just ‘somebody says it’. You say it’s overwhelming. Is it?

Thirkell: Yeah, well, just on this issue alone, there were over 2000 submissions from those who were opposed, and we had Dr Leonie Hertz out last week — a palliative care physician from Canada on the ground. She says we paint a rosy picture. It was the same in Canada two and a half years ago, but actually the ground has shifted. It’s become normalised. They are already talking about broadening the criteria. It is simply unstoppable, and she says it’s not actually a slippery slope — it is a logical progression. You open the door, you let the genie out of the bottle, you can’t complain.

Seymour: I’m not sure that one avowedly spiritually-motivated Canadian doctor speaks for the country, but there you go.

Okay, and one last quick question, Peter, even if this bill’s not successful, the fact that it’s got this far, does it indicate a public shift on this issue?

Thirkell: No, I think, again, I come back to the submissions. It’s all very well to talk about polls, they’re whimsical, they’re not informed.

Seymour: Well…

Thirkell: There’s a huge amount of expert evidence and evidence from the public saying please don’t do this. It puts vulnerable people at risk, it disrupts the doctor/patient relationship and requires them to participate in a system that would be unethical. The overseas experience certainly is not reassuring.

Seymour: Well, Simon, if I can come in on that. Simon—

Thirkell: And palliative care is another alternative, we’d be much better to put our energies into that life-affirming—

Seymour: Simon, it’s widely accepted that palliative care is great, but it does not work for everyone. There are many countries that have considered these laws, and they have not voted them in…

Thirkell: It’s not widely accepted.

Seymour: …because the lawmakers were spooked and fear mongered by the kind of arguments we’ve heard this morning.

Thirkell: It’s not fear mongering, it’s evidence.

Seymour: But of those countries that have put an assisted dying law in place, none of them have gone back. And that tells you the reality is far better than the rhetoric you hear.

Well, we’re going to continue this debate as the bill goes towards its second reading. David Seymour, thank you for your time, Peter Thirkell, thank you.

Seymour: Thank you.

Thirkell: Thank you, Simon, appreciate it.


Transcript provided by Able. www.able.co.nz

Full video here: David Seymour clashes with anti-euthanasia advocate

David Seymour on Arms Amendment Bill – third reading speech

ACT MP David Seymour was the only one to vote against the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill. This is his third reading speech.


DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. I rise on behalf of the ACT Party in opposition to this bill, but not in opposition to changing our gun laws. I want to pay tribute to those victims of our nation’s tragedy of 15 March; it is for them that our gun laws must change, because it is not sustainable to have a set of laws where such a deranged individual can get their hands on such lethal weapons with almost nobody knowing about it. That much is certain, and that much is consensus in this House of Parliament, and almost up and down the entire length of this country. However, this bill is not an attempt to improve public safety; it is an exercise in political theatre.

This bill was made redundant and unnecessary by an Order in Council passed down by the Prime Minister and the Government in the week after the tragedy of 15 March. That Order in Council made it clear that only those approximately 7,500 people with the most restricted level of licence—an E category licence that requires extreme vetting and registration of every single weapon—could have semi-automatic weapons. That was a great start. That was a good placeholder, which wouldn’t expire until 30 June. That Order in Council could have been the beginning of a careful, considered, thoughtful legislative process; the type of legislative process that the Government now promises will commence almost as soon as this bill has passed through this House and become a law.

People might ask themselves: “What was the rush and what was the hurry?” Other than the need to be seen to be doing something, there was none. The fact is that, unlike the Prime Minister, who asked, “Well, is it better to do nothing?”, I believe that this bill may end up being worse than nothing.

We could not find, in the select committee, what the officials’ estimates of the success of the gun buy-back might be. So what will members of this House say when we get to the end of the amnesty period this September, and we find that our gun buy-back has been no more successful than the Australian one? One that found that between 40 and 80 percent—just as our Prime Minister couldn’t say, today, how many guns there are in New Zealand, the Australians didn’t know either—of these dangerous weapons have been handed in, and they’ve been handed in by the people who are the law-abiding ones. We could find ourselves with a bigger black market in dangerous semi-automatic weapons than ever outside any regulatory cordon whatsoever. Why might that be? Well, one good reason is that today, in the eleventh hour—such is the rush of this process—the Government decided that they would reward people with compensation if their weapons were owned legally, but they wouldn’t offer compensation for people who hand in illegal weapons. That is how insane the outcomes of this process are.

That is to say nothing—maybe it’s a law that won’t work—about the way it has been gone about; to say nothing of the truncated select committee process, which gave no serious consideration to improving the law, didn’t consider any other options such as upgrading licensing, didn’t allow the committee to consider what the success of the buy-back might be. It simply said, “There is urgency, we must act, we’re going to do this anyway.” That is not good lawmaking, that is not the way to get the law-abiding gun community—whom we need as allies in creating a safer society—on board, and that is not the way to celebrate the institution of Parliament and our democracy at a time when exactly our democratic institutions of freedom have been challenged so violently.

So, for all of those reasons, I am in support of changing our gun laws, but it is impossible for anyone of good conscience to support this bill, the way it’s been brought about, and the problems with it that may well make our society more dangerous than we had on 15 March. Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker.


See Arms Amendment Bill passes third reading

Justice Committee undecided on End of Life Choice Bill – report

The Justice Committee report on the End of Life Choice Bill (the euthanasia bill) has been tabled in Parliament, with the committee undecided on whether the bill should be passed.

RNZ:  Euthanasia bill report tabled in Parliament

After 16 months’ worth of submissions, a report on euthanasia legislation has been tabled in the House and sponsor David Seymour says he’s quite confident he’ll have the numbers to pass it.

Parliament’s justice committee reported its findings this afternoon after nearly 39,000 submissions were heard by MPs on the bill that would allow assisted dying for those terminally ill, likely to die within six months and experiencing “unbearable suffering”.

The report said that 90 percent of the 36,700 written submissions opposed the bill.

“We note that the majority of written submissions discussed only whether assisted dying should be allowed in principle.”

The vote is one of conscience, so individual MPs can cast their vote according to their personal views.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will be voting in favour.

“I understand those deeply held convictions that means they’ll be opposed to it, my view is the best way that I can allow people to make their own decisions is actually giving them access to that choice,” she said.

Probably more important than Ardern’s influence will be which way NZ First MPs decided to go, and more so how national MPs will decided. Simon Bridges, and Maggie Barry and Nick Smith who were on the committee, are all strongly opposed to the bill, but as it’s a conscience vote all MPs are free to support or oppose as they choose.

It is still not clear whether the bill will have enough support once it returns to Parliament.

National MP Maggie Barry sat on the committee and said she thought political opposition to the bill may have hardened after the lengthy, and often harrowing, consultation period.

Mr Seymour will put amendments forward in the House – probably in June – which will include restricting the bill to those who have a terminal prognosis only and introducing a referendum.

“There’s some [MPs] still to work on to get it across the line,” he said.

The first reading passed with a 76-44 margin and Mr Seymour said that gave him confidence that MPs would line up with the majority of New Zealanders and support the bill.

Asked whether Ms Barry was the right person to deputy chair the select committee given her active campaign against euthanasia, Mr Seymour said: “I’m the tinder paper to Maggie Barry’s inner volcano so I’m probably not a natural observer on her.”

Full report on the End of Life Choice Bill

Recommendation

The Justice Committee has examined the End of Life Choice Bill and the Report of the Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the End of Life Choice Bill. We recommend that the amendments set out below be passed.

We were unable to agree that the bill be passed.

Conscience vote

This bill is expected to result in conscience votes by members in the House. In previous situations where a bill was expected to result in conscience votes, committees have recommended amendments that left the policy content of the bill largely intact, while trying to ensure that the bill was a coherent and workable piece of legislation— particularly regarding consequential amendments and amendments to related legislation.

The eight members of this committee hold diverse views. We decided to report the bill back with minor, technical, and consequential amendments only. We leave it to the full membership of the House to resolve the broader policy matters

The End of Life Choice Bill (as it currently stands)

Parliamentary committee report on euthanasia to be tabled this week

After a lengthy period for public submissions and a record number of submissions (38,000) David Seymour’s End of Life Choice bill is due to have it’s select committee report tabled in Parliament tomorrow.

Most submissions opposed the bill, but many were organised by churches opposed to the bill.

NZ Herald:  Report due back on Act leader David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill

With a parliamentary committee due to table its report on David Seymour’s euthanasia bill on Tuesday, the Act leader is “quietly confident” about its future.

“This is something that is becoming increasingly normal around the world and something that New Zealanders overwhelmingly want,” Seymour told the Herald.

“However, as we can see from the select committee process, we face a very well-orchestrated campaign from a motivated minority who are extremely committed to defeating the bill,” he said.

The bill as it stands would give people with a terminal illness or a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” the option of requesting assisted dying.

“It allows people who so choose, and are eligible under this bill, to end their lives in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.”

But speaking ahead of the report’s public release on Tuesday, ahead of the bill’s second reading, Seymour said he was “quietly confident” of its future.

I hope that MPs do the right thing and progress this Bill, and put the final decision to all of us via a binding referendum that would support or reject the Bill.

Seymour grandstanding while Parliament sat and acted without him

David Seymour was busy talking the democratic high ground over the pending rush job on the Arms Amendment Bill, the Government (with the support of the National Opposition) outmanoeuvred him in the House.

NZ Herald: ACT Leader David Seymour misses chance to force Govt to use urgency for gun law’s first reading

Act leader David Seymour was so busy objecting to media about the speed of the Government’s gun law reform that he missed being in the House to block the process being streamlined.

The Government was planning on seeking leave to streamline the bill’s passage through Parliament, including having the first reading this afternoon.

Seymour had planned to block any such attempt, which would have forced the Government to use urgency, but Seymour was not in the House when a motion for an expedited process was moved.

He was outside the House at the time, telling media that the Government was too concerned with “being seen to do the right thing on the global stage”.

TUESDAY, 2 APRIL 2019

The Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.

Prayers.

ARMS (PROHIBITED FIREARMS, MAGAZINES, AND PARTS) AMENDMENT BILL

Procedure

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): I seek leave for the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill to be set down for first reading after general business today, despite Standing Order 285(1)(b); for there to be no debate on the instruction to the select committee to consider the bill despite Standing Order 290; for the bill to be available for second reading on Tuesday, 9 April, despite Standing Order 296; should the member in charge desire, for the bill to be set down for the committee of the whole House forthwith, following the second reading, despite Standing Order 299; and for the bill to be set down for third reading forthwith, following the committee stage, despite Standing Order 310.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that process being followed? There appears to be none.

Chuckling could be heard from Members, most of whom had made it into the House on time.

Claire Trevett: Act’s David Seymour hoist on tardy petard

Seymour had been strutting around proud as a peacock for being the only self-proclaimed true champion of democracy by refusing to give his leave for firearms legislation to be passed in a hurry.

He stood alone on his high horse. In the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks, all other parties had agreed to support hasty progression for at least the first tranche of changes – the banning of some guns, and tougher new penalties.

Seymour was so busy talking to the media about his plans to refuse leave for the reforms to be rushed that by the time he made it to his seat to carry out this superhuman feat it was already done.

Instead of delivering democracy he was outfoxed by Leader of the House Chris Hipkins.

Rather than wait until after Question Time as usual, Hipkins stood just before Question Time began to ask for the leave of Parliament to expedite the bill. Seymour was still outside, oblivious.

Members of Parliament did not quite manage to stay as deadpan as the Speaker. Audible laughter swept through Parliament. The Greens – usually most opposed to the hasty progression of legislation – were first to gloat on Twitter.

National MPs Maggie Barry, Paul Goldsmith and Paula Bennett could all be seen looking at Seymour’s desk and laughing. He wandered in a few minutes later.

Undaunted, Seymour sought to re-cast himself as the Superman of Democracy. Rather than berate himself for bad timekeeping, he claimed the fact Hipkins had taken advantage of his tardiness in such a fashion showed what little regard Hipkins had for democracy.

To succeed at democracy you have to be on top of democratic processes. Seymour should have saved hos crowing until after his democratic egg was laid, but he ended up with yolk on his face.

Whether it was good democracy or not, the quick thinking and speed reading of Hipkins meant that the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill is rushing through Parliament than Urgency would have allowed.

Record number of submissions on euthanasia Bill

The  Justice Select Committee has received a record number of public submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill. Most of those oppose the Bill, but despite claims that represents strong public opposition it is more indicative of strong organisation in trying to oppose the Bill.

Family First have made a common but ridiculous claim:  Overwhelming Majority Tell MPs To Kill The Euthanasia Bill

Family First NZ, a member of the Care Alliance which has analysed the almost-39,000 submissions made regarding David Seymour’s assisted suicide bill, says that there is overwhelming opposition to the bill being considered by Parliament and that MPs should vote against the bill at 2nd Reading.

The analysis reveals the following:
• Overall, 91.8% were opposed to the Bill
• 93.5% of submissions received from doctors, nurses and other health care staff were opposed
• 90.6% of organisations which submitted were opposed
• 90.5% of submissions made no reference at all to religious arguments
• all submissions made by churches were opposed, including a Buddhist group and a Muslim charitable organisation supported by 13 other Muslim welfare groups and organisations within NZ

This means there is a lot of opposition to the bill, but it makes no measure of overall public opposition or support of the bill. The 35,000 who submitted in opposition is a small minority of New Zealand voters.

RNZ picked up on this line of opposition:  Majority of submissions against bill to legalise euthanasia

The Care Alliance, which represents some groups opposed to euthanasia, analysed the nearly 38,000 submissions made to the Justice Select Committee on the End of Life Choice Bill.

Care Alliance Secretary Peter Thirkell said it was a record number of submissions for any bill, and more than 90 percent were opposed.

“These are heartfelt. This is a cross-section of all New Zealanders, and they are very well-informed submissions – these aren’t just a few people with funny ideas,” Dr Thirkell said.

It is disingenuous to claim “This is a cross-section of all New Zealanders” – it is a section of New Zealanders who were organised by the care Alliance and Family First to submit in opposition.

David Seymour has reacted: Care Alliance vs polling science on End of Life Choice

Analysing Select Committee submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill is no match for 20 years of research on New Zealanders’ support for the choice of assisted dying, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Reputable polling companies have time and time again found the vast majority of New Zealanders support assisted dying and welcome a change to our laws. A review of 20 years’ research into New Zealander’s attitudes to assisted dying by the University of Otago found that 68 per cent support change.”

This chart from the Young study shows the vast difference between support running consistently at around 70 per cent, opposition at around 20 per cent, and undecideds at around 10 per cent in 17 polls taken since 2002. These polls were taken by reputable firms such as Colmar Brunton and Reid Research, which most recently found 75 and 71 per cent support, respectively.

The Care Alliance are at pains to stress that the opposition to the bill was not, in the main, religiously motivated. However the church asked people not to use religious language in their submissions and its Bishops have defended the practice.

“90.5% of submissions made no reference at all to religious arguments” was one of the things analysed.

These mismatches between select committee submissions on an issue and public opinion are not new. The Committee considering the issue of civil unions found over 83 per cent of submissions were opposed to a law change at a time when the majority of New Zealanders were in favour of liberalisation. MPs understood this and voted civil unions into law.

“It is a shame that the Select Committee process has been misused in this way, emphasising the quantity of submissions over their quality.”

The Select Committee process hasn’t been misused – any member of the public has a right to submit. And it has been common for a long time for groups to organise submissions to inflate numbers in support of or in opposition to Bills. The only difference here is the number of submitters.

And it has also long been common for groups to misrepresent what number of submissions means. I have even seem elected councillors and MPs either misunderstand or misrepresent  what numbers of submissions.

It is up to the Select Committee to evaluate the submissions – MPs on committees should al be well aware of attempts to make numbers of submissions mean more than they do. The Select Committee will make recommendations to Parliament, and then all MPs will vote on whether to allow the bill to proceed or not.

If the Bill passes the Second and Third Reading votes in Parliament it is likely to then go to a referendum. That is likely to be what the ‘Care Alliance’ is trying to stop from happening.

But it could take a while –  Euthanasia bill timetable extended as record 35,000 submissions received

The timetable for the Justice Select Committee’s report on the End of Life Choice Bill has been extended after a record 35,000 submissions were received.

The select committee MPs will visit the regions in order to hear oral submissions on the bill, finally reporting back to Parliament at the end of March next year.

Will there be time from there to progress the bill through the second and third readings, then include it in a referendum held alongside the general election late next year as has been intimated might happen if the Bill passes through Parliament?

The member’s bill, sponsored by ACT’s David Seymour, would make it legal for those with a terminal illness or irremediable medical condition the choice of assisted death, otherwise known as euthanasia. It passed first reading last December 76 to 44.

That vote might get closer as it progresses through the readings.

“The Justice Committee intends to hear from all submitters who have asked to be heard,” chairperson Raymond Huo said.

“Hearing evidence in the regions will help ensure that as many individuals and community organisations as possible can present their views and that the Committee take account of all of the submissions in an open minded and balanced way.”

Deputy chairperson Maggie Barry said the huge number of submissions showed how strongly Kiwis felt about the issue.

“The Committee could not have done the submitters justice if we had refused to travel or hear everyone who asked to be heard. It was therefore essential we had the six month extension to allow us to give due consideration to the enormous task ahead of us,” Barry said.

Oral submissions begin in Parliament today.

It will be a year for it to be reported back to the full Parliament.

See also The Spinoff – Submissions show tough euthanasia fight ahead

The analysis of the submissions as a whole paints a fascinating picture of who was making them, and how they argued their case. The vast majority didn’t reference religious arguments, though some churches are understood to have strongly encouraged parishioners to write in. The vast majority were also uniquely written – that is, they weren’t just a form letter or postcard which groups sometimes use to pile submissions up. More than one in ten were longer than a page in length. All of that indicates a significant amount of vehemence behind the views.

Of course, tens of thousands of submissions still doesn’t add up to a majority of the electorate, or even remotely close to it.