Peter Dunne praised in Parliament

Praise in Parliament for Peter Dunne has been in short supply lately, but he was speaking positively and being spoken of positively yesterday during the second reading of the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

It’s been a rough few weeks in Parliament for Peter Dunne, but suggestions (and hopes of some) that he’s down and out are premature.

And Dunne was praised by other speakers for his efforts in initiating and progressing the bill (a notable exception being John Banks who called Dunne a puppy hater).

Hon TODD McCLAY (Associate Minister of Health):

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the considerable amount of work by the Hon Peter Dunne in getting this bill to this stage. The Hon Peter Dunne has been a driving force behind this world-first legislation, and we need to recognise the great work that has been put in place by Mr Dunne in this area.

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour):

I also ought to recognise the Hon Peter Dunne, who is the architect of this legislation, who steered it through its first stages in the House, and who steered it from its genesis as a set of recommendations out of the Law Commission report to becoming legislation. It is good to see Peter Dunne in the House this evening.

…we simply needed to get this legislation to the House much sooner than we did. In fact, because the Law Commission reported its recommendations over 2 years ago, there has been plenty of time for the Government to make this a priority. This is no reflection in any way whatsoever on Peter Dunne.

Dunne corrected Lees-Galloway on the genesis of the bill – see Psychoactive Substances Bill.

LOUISA WALL (Labour—Manurewa):

I want to acknowledge the Hon Peter Dunne and the leadership that he has shown in bringing this piece of legislation to the House, and to also thank him for tabling a petition on behalf of 3,533 members of the Manurewa community.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua):

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this very innovative Psychoactive Substances Bill. I would like to acknowledge and thank, first of all, the Hon Peter Dunne, who has pressed on with this bill. I was under the impression that it was initially the Law Commission, but he has told us this afternoon that it was through a United Nations committee.

Dunne tripped himself up over the GCSB and the Kitteridge report which led to him resigning as Associate Minister of Health (and Minister of Revenue) but he is still well respected and continues to make a positive contribution in Parliament.

And the Psychoactive Substances Bill will be a notable Dunne legacy.

In The House video of the Psychoactive Substances Bill – Second Reading speeches:

Psychoactive Substances Bill – no animal testing amendments

Parliament’s Health committee has put out a media release saying it will “not be considering the possibility of animal testing amendments as these have been ruled outside the scope of the bill”.

The Health select committee is currently considering the Psychoactive Substances Bill, and wishes to inform the public that it will not be considering the possibility of animal testing amendments as these have been ruled outside the scope of the bill by the chairperson, after advice from the Office of the Clerk.

“The purpose of the bill is to regulate the availability of psychoactive substances in New Zealand. The bill does not prescribe any design or testing stage, and the ethics of any testing regime is not relevant to the purpose of the bill” said the chairperson Dr Paul Hutchison.

“As such, possible amendments prohibiting testing these substances on animals are not related to the subject matter of the bill as introduced.”

The call for submissions on the bill closed on 1 May 2013. At its meeting today the committee considered all submissions received and resolved not to accept submissions on animal testing on the grounds that they are not relevant to its consideration of the bill.

“To accept these submissions would create a false expectation that the committee could address this issue through recommending amendment to the Psychoactive Substances Bill”, said the chairperson.

The committee will conclude its hearings of evidence on the bill today and will further consider the bill at its next meeting.

Odd urge to withdraw euthanasia bill

Labour MP Maryan Street has drafted a voluntary euthanasia bill and plans to put it  in the member’s ballot.

National MP Paul Hutchison is suggesting she should withdraw her bill.

Street’s euthanasia bill untimely and unclear

Media release from Paul Hutchison

It is concerning that Maryan Street said she took up the bill because ‘she could not think of a reason not to’. Though she says the Bill is ‘predominantly to do with terminal physical illness’, part of the Bill refers to ‘end of life directives’ for those that suffer from an irreversible medical or mental condition that, in their view, renders their life unbearable. Including both medical and mental conditions could well lead to confusion.

Dr Hutchison says euthanasia and assisted suicide are complex areas where there are grey zones in law and in practice.  However, modern care and knowledge, along with significant advances in technology, provide huge help.

“In April ‘Hospice New Zealand’ has published a ‘Quality Review Programme and Guide 2012’ of standards for palliative care.  It describes the unique and interwoven roles of primary care services and specialist palliative care services to provide high quality palliative care and end of life care to all people in New Zealand.

“I vividly remember Peter Brown’s private members bill which was narrowly lost in the Parliament in 2003.  Peter spoke passionately and sincerely regarding the awful time his late wife had during her terminal illness.  However, on talking to him, I couldn’t help think that if he and his wife had received the skilled services that are available today, their suffering could well be far less.”

Dr Hutchison says that deep concern has been raised regarding the euthanasia laws in the Netherlands and Belgium where required safeguards have allegedly not been adhered to, resulting in people being euthanized without proper informed consent.

“Like anything as definitive as capital punishment, it is always possible for errors to occur. At least Maryan Street admits this,” says Dr Hutchison.

Labour MP Maryan Street’s ‘End of Life Choice Bill’ is couched in terms that might be liberal and hopeful.  However, Dr Hutchison says her proposal could set New Zealand on a regressive path.  It could also deprive many New Zealanders and their families from taking advantage of the wonderful facilities, compassion and expertise that are available to them during a terminal illness, when the greatest human qualities so often shine through.

“In my view Maryan Street should withdraw her bill.” says Dr Hutchison.

This is odd. Hutchison’s statement is untimely – he presumably hasn’t seen Street’s bill yet.

And it’s unclear why she should withdraw a bill because one MP requests it. Parliament is there for all MPs to decide on issues.

Sure, there are complexities and concerns, but it’s an important issue and surely parliament is the right place to examine the whole issue.

Also covered by TV3: MP urged to withdraw euthanasia bill