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.

End of Life Choice Bill

David Seymour’s ‘End of Life Choice’ Bill was drawn from today’s Members’ ballot. It is unlikely to be debated before the election, so a new intake of MPs will get to decide whether it progresses through Parliament.

I hope that it at least passes the First Reading vote and goes to select committee for consideration and for public submissions. From there it will depend on what form the bill ends up taking, in particular what safeguards are included, and then it should be up to conscience votes.

End of Life Choice Bill

This bill gives people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying.

It is a controversial subject and will no doubt be keenly debated, and there is likely to be  a lot of lobbying.

From ACT: Campaign to legalise assisted dying begins now

The End of Life Choice Bill has been drawn from Parliament’s ballot.

“The campaign starts now,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We are long overdue for a compassionate response to the anguish faced by the small but significant minority of grievously and irremediably ill, or terminally ill, people. Current law leaves them no choice but to endure intolerable suffering and loss of dignity in the final days of their lives. The End of Life Choice Bill would allow people who so choose and are eligible to end their life in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones.

“Polling consistently shows strong support for allowing assisted dying for those with terminal illness or who are grievously and irremediably ill. It’s time to translate this support into action. This issue will likely be decided by a conscience vote, so I encourage all supporters of this cause to write to their local MPs and urge them to support the Bill at first reading so that the issue can be thoroughly considered through the select committee process.

“This is a debate which will take place around the country, not just in the media, but online and at homes and churches. I hope people respectfully engage in the discussion with friends and family, and also submit on the Bill as it reaches select committee stage.

“A copy of my Bill, together with further information including answers to common questions and criticisms, can be found on the campaign website, lifechoice.org.nz.”

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

Key refuses to act on euthanasia inquiry

John Key is refusing to do anything about euthanasia legislation, regardless of the outcome of the current select committee inquiry.

Newstalk ZB: John Key: ‘No chance’ of Govt legalising euthanasia

There is zero chance of Government introducing legislation to legalise euthanasia even if an inquiry strongly recommends it, Prime Minister John Key says.

A select committee is part-way through a major inquiry on public attitudes to euthanasia in New Zealand, which is considering more than 20,000 public submissions and holding hearings around the country.

Key said today that regardless of the committee’s conclusions and the level of public support, the Government would not propose a change.

“There is no chance of it being a Government bill,” Key told reporters at Parliament this morning.

Key said he personally supported euthanasia. He would not take the step himself, but he believed others should be able to.

However, there was strong opposition to it within the National caucus, he said.

Senior members of the Cabinet such as Bill English and Gerry Brownlee have previously voted against bills which would have made euthanasia legal.

“Ultimately you’re dealing with a really sensitive issue and I think the process is best handled through a member’s bill, as I’ve said so often before,” Key said.

Saying it is “best handled through a member’s bill”, which is a long shot lottery, is gutless bollocks.

It may be Key-speak for ‘I am outnumbered in the National caucus on this’.

The Prime Minister said the select committee’s work was still useful because it would inform any debate if a private member’s bill on the issue was drawn.

That’s pathetic, effectively not allowing Parliament to do what it should, debate issues of public importance.

Andrew is little better.

Andrew Little said the Government should “at least” allow a euthanasia bill to come before the House so that a debate could take place.

However, he said a law change would not be a priority for a Labour-led Government.

He would personally support the legalisation of euthanasia if it had the same safeguards as former MP Maryan Street’s proposed bill.

Street’s bill was withdrawn from the member’s ballot ahead of the 2014 election at the request of former Labour leader David Shearer, who was concerned it could become a distraction in election year.

It was taken over by another Labour MP, Iain Lees-Galloway, but Little asked him not to return it to the ballot.

The Labour Party passed a remit at its annual conference on the weekend which said MPs would have a conscience vote on any euthanasia legislation.

Little said he was unsure about the level of support for a law change within his party.

So Little is ‘unsure about the level of support within his party’ but nevertheless had a Labour member’s bill withdrawn from the ballot and consigned it to ‘not a priority’, which is much the same as Key’s refusal to address it.

Euthanasia is a difficult and sensitive issue, but making it as hard as possible for parliament to debate it is gutless politics.

Act’s David Seymour is the only Member of Parliament willing to push for debate on this. He has effectively taken over the bill from Lees-Galloway. The rest of them are ducking for cover when they should be representing the interests of us the people.

The outcome of a euthanasia bill is obviously unknown, but debate on it should be allowed.

I’m especially disappointed with Key’s refusal to do anything, very poor leadership.

Claim that talk of euthanasia encourages suicides

Bob McCoskrie has made an odd claim about the euthanasia Parliamentary select committee discussions – he has suggested it is encouraging suicides, but he says there is no scientific basis for this.

NZ Herald: Talk of euthanasia encouraging suicides, conservative lobby group says

Bob McCoskrie, the national director for Family First, said today that suicides and attempted suicides appeared to peak every time Parliament debated a law change around assisted dying.

He acknowledged there was no scientific basis for his theory and that other factors could have contributed to the rise in suicides in 1995, 2003 and 2012, when Parliament considered bills or proposed bills on euthanasia.

“But it cannot ruled out that there is risk related to the increased publicity given to the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Many things “can’t be ruled out” but making claims like this with nothing to substantiate it is poor in a submission from Family First.

It also can’t be ruled out that openly talking about euthanasia, and openly talking about suicide, helps lead to prevention of suicides.

McCoskrie made the comments to a select committee which is investigating public attitudes to voluntary euthanasia and deciding whether it should be legalised in New Zealand.

McCoskrie said any discussion of suicide should focus on prevention.

“In complete contrast, this inquiry is initiated and is driven by a desire to promote assisted suicide. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.”

The euthanasia discussions have only come up this year, and there are no recent statistics on suicide rates so it’s impossible to tell whether McCoskrie is right.

McCoskrie hasn’t attempted to analyse trends and patterns, but avoiding talking about suicide in public, as has been the norm in the past, has done nothing to stem the growing number of suicides in New Zealand.

When publishing items on suicide media commonly also publishes help line numbers and links to resources about suicide prevention. Trying to ignore a growing problem hasn’t worked.

And:

One of the committee’s members, Labour MP Louisa Wall, said his argument was “fundamentally flawed” because he did not differentiate between medically-assisted dying and suicide.

“I don’t see them as congruent,” she said. “There is a huge contrast between people who are facing imminent death and people who are hopeless or depressed.”

“To say that someone like [euthanasia advocate] Lecretia Seales was committing suicide is just wrong.”

But to some people, like McCoskrie, anything other than letting life and death take it’s natural course is wrong.

Except that medical interventions that prolong life seem to have become acceptable.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Seymour v Collins on euthanasia checkpoints

David Seymour kicked off Question Time in parliament yesterday by quizzing Minister of Police Judith Collins on whether she believed “the public has a right to be concerned about Police conducting roadside breath-screening tests with the intention of collecting personal information for investigations unrelated to road safety.”

Collins avoided answering this and follow up questions by claiming she couldn’t respond even in general due to a specific incident being referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) for investigation.


QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

PoliceRoadside Testing and Collection of Personal Information

1. DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Police: Does she believe the public has a right to be concerned about Police conducting roadside breath-screening tests with the intention of collecting personal information for investigations unrelated to road safety; if not, why not?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Police): Although there is no ministerial responsibility for the genuinely held views of members of the New Zealand public, and both section 16 of the Policing Act 2008 and the Cabinet Manual preclude my intervention—in particular, with policing operations—I can confirm that the Commissioner of Police has referred this incident to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) for investigation.

David Seymour: Does the Minister believe it is a good use of Police resources to interrogate law-abiding people attending a peaceful meeting of an advocacy group, given an 18 percent spike in burglary reported by Statistics New Zealand just this week?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think I have answered that question very clearly. This is not a matter that I can comment on. It is currently with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, and for me to make a statement about it or have any sort of view would, in fact, actually try to influence the IPCA—and this is not a Labour Government; this is a National Government.

David Seymour: Can the Minister comment on whether she is completely satisfied with how Police currently allocates its resources, given increases in assault, sexual assault, abduction, kidnapping, robbery, and extortion, but no reported increases in rogue advocacy groups in Maungaraki?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Clearly, the member is not aware that road policing is actually funded out of the Ministry of Transport, not out of Police. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

David Seymour: Does the Minister agree with the Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, when he said “there would be pretty troubling aspects” to an operation that used the statutory power and, indeed, funding provided under the Land Transport Act to gather personal information for a different purpose?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I am not sure how many times I need to tell that member that I have no intention of wading into an investigation that the Independent Police Conduct Authority is undertaking. I take my responsibilities very seriously, and I would refer the member to not only section 16 of the Policing Act 2008 but also the Cabinet Manual on this issue. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

David Seymour: Does the Minister have any views about how a police force should operate and how it should allocate its resources?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Yes, I do. One of the ways I believe that police should operate is to not have politicians telling them how to do their job. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!

David Seymour: Will she guarantee that someone will eventually be held accountable for this gross breach of civil liberties?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think the member is jumping to conclusions. I suggest he leave it to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, which is the right and proper place and people to look into this issue.


Seymour followed up with a press release:

Minister ducks for cover on inappropriate use of police resources

The Minister of Police has failed to reassure New Zealanders that someone will take responsibility for any misuse of police resources to target euthanasia groups. She hides behind due process today while she is happy to crow about police operations when it suits, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“When New Zealanders see a blatant abuse of civil liberties, they expect someone to be held accountable. At the very least they expect the appropriate Minister to have a view on the principles of good policy. New Zealanders should be disappointed on both counts today.

“Astoundingly, Judith Collins refused to acknowledge what anyone can see: that surveillance of assisted dying advocates is ethically wrong and legally dodgy, not to mention a complete waste of police resources when burglary is spiking 18% in the last year.

“The Minister refused to share any view on this behaviour, saying it would be inappropriate given an inquiry is under way by the Independent Police Conduct Authority. ACT respects this due process, but it needn’t prevent the Minister from expressing a general view, particularly one who is not usually reluctant in sharing her opinions.

“She hasn’t shied away from crowing about other initiatives such as recent anti-burglary measures. Core police operations suffer when resources are thrown at harassing advocacy groups, but the Minister offers no comment. Apparently she only likes to comment on good news.”

It would be good if the Minister of Police could at least assure the public that breath testing checkpoints won’t be used illegally to detain members of the public travelling legally.

Euthanasia checkpoint conspiracy theories

Martyn Bradbury has made claims about the checkpoints used to gather information from euthanasia campaigners that look absurd to me. He seems to have dreamt them up as doesn’t substantiated them at all.

The Daily Blog: So why are the NZ Police taking a sudden interest in Euthanasia campaigners?

Let me be clear.

I am anti-euthanasia. I passionately believe that if this passes, Government’s and State Agencies will not be able to help themselves in promoting Euthanasia to lesson health costs. That’s what Jenny Shipley was secretly trying to do in the 1990s and I sure as hell believe National would use it like that now.

I presume he means lessen. The rest sounds like maniacal scaremongering.

That said, what the NZ Police are doing to Euthanasia campaigners is not only outrageous, but the real reasons behind this weird abuse of power is actually a lot darker.

Falsifying a checkpoint to catch and tag members of any political group or organisation and then turn up on their doorsteps to intimidate them is extreme and barely within the law.

I agree that the abuse of the checkpoint was outrageous, and may have in fact been outside the law.

Which is what the NZ Police are testing out. The incredible search and surveillance powers bestowed upon them retrospectively by John Key for illegally spying on activists added new abilities to actively deceive and effectively entrap activists. This pro-active Policing is clearly something the NZ Police wish to test out.

This is a bloody training exercise.

The Police have selected a low grade activist group with little political clout to test out how far they can actually go with their new powers.

The checkpoint had nothing to do with new spying or search and surveillance powers.

The Police have been trying these tactics out for some time. The Urewera Raids not only used illegal spying techniques (now legal), but they engaged in GCSB  level spying equipment and agent provocateurs. They tried it on with the failed Red Devil undercover plant and more recently used ‘Mr Big’ entrapment scams.

Targeting Euthanasia campaigners is a training exercise as our Police State starts flexing its new found muscles.

Linking the Urewera raids and GCSB spying to the euthanasia checkpoint seems a rather ridiculous leap.

Remember if the new GCSB and SIS powers go through, they can deputise any agency to share their legal immunity if committing crimes. 

Good grief. I haven’t seen anyone one else talking about legal immunity over this. The Police referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Authority over the checkpoint.

Bradbury seems to have ended up stranded on the political outer – the maniacal left out.

Police accused of illegal moral crusade

RNZ have more on the using of an alcohol breath-testing check point to identify elderly people who had attended a euthanasia meeting.

Yesterday police admitted they used a breath-testing checkpoint to identify and trace people who had been at an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt earlier this month.

Shortly afterwards they announced they had reported themselves to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The acting Wellington District Commander, Paul Basham, said police carried out the operation “in good faith”, but were also aware of public concern about the legal basis for the checkpoint.

But Human rights lawyer Michael Bott said…

…officers misused used their power under the Land Transport Act, which allowed them to stop people, ask for licences and carry out breath tests for road safety.

“What you’ve got is New Zealand police undertaking what appears to be some kind of moral crusade on spurious grounds to such a degree that they’re prepared to use ‘stop and questioning’ powers under the Land Transport Act for ulterior motives, which seems completely improper,” he said.

In their defence, police said they had a responsibility to investigate any situation where they had reasonable grounds to “suspect that people are being assisted in the commission of suicide”.

So why didn’t the police go to the meeting to investigate?

But Mr Bott said police had no right to intervene in the way they did.

“The mere fact that you attend a meeting with a group who believe in the right to commit suicide in certain circumstances – if you’re unwell or terminally ill – doesn’t mean you actually endorse those aims, or that in fact you’re contemplating assisting someone with bringing about their own demise.

“So you really haven’t got good cause to do that.”

Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan…

…agreed the officers had acted unlawfully.

“Under the Bill of Rights Act, there is a provision that people should not be unlawfully detained. They [the elderly people] weren’t detained in the sense of being put in a cell but they were detained, and they were stopped and questioned, and were asked to hand over their licence,” he said.

“The police have no more power than I have to stop someone and say ‘I want to see your licence’, unless they’re using (their power) for the purpose it was designed for, which is the blood alcohol purpose.

“They’re really not using power that they have, so they’re effectively detaining people. If you haven’t got the power to do it then it’s illegal detention.”

Wilhelmina Irving missed the checkpoint but was visited from a plain clothes officer anyway.

She was one of a group of elderly women visited by the officers who questioned them about their connection to the pro-euthanasia activists.

She said the ordeal had made her lose faith in the police.

“You don’t think like that of the police, you think of them as trying to help people, not making things difficult for elderly people really.”

How was she identified?

I hope this is an ill-advised one-off and doesn’t set a precedent for how the police investigate groups of people.

Police checkpoint targeting meeting attendees

Stuff reports that Police admit using checkpoint to target euthanasia meeting attendees

Police have admitted they used a breath-testing checkpoint to target people who had attended an Exit International euthanasia meeting.

The move has been criticised as an “unlawful checkpoint to interrogate pensioners” by one lawyer, while another said it was probably a breach of police powers. 

A complaint has already been laid with the Independent Police Conduct Authority about the officers’ actions in Lower Hutt earlier this month, and it is understood at least one other will be laid in coming days.

If unlawful this is bad, but even if it isn’t unlawful this is an awful action targeting people who legally attended a meeting.

It is understood police were originally investigating on behalf of a coroner looking into a death, suspected to be self-inflicted.

But when police decided to turn the investigation into a criminal operation, they asked a coroner if they could put the coronial investigation on hold.

Questions put to police late last week and over Labour Weekend went unanswered. But on Wednesday, Inspector Chris Bensemann supplied a written statement confirming the checkpoint was to “identify people attending an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt”.

He said police had a duty of care and a “responsibility to the community to investigate any situation where we have reasonable grounds to suspect that persons are being assisted in the commission of suicide”.

“Police are responsible for enforcing New Zealand’s laws, and currently suicide or encouraging/helping someone to commit suicide is illegal in New Zealand.”

I don’t think committing suicide is illegal.

Regardless, using alcohol checkpoints for other purposes, effectively detaining and questioning people just because of a meeting they had attended, is quite disturbing.

He confirmed the operation was conducted via a breath-testing checkpoint near the location of the meeting.

“Information gathered through the checkpoint has enabled police to provide support and information to those people who we had reason to believe may be contemplating suicide.”

That’s way outside the allowable uses for checkpoints.