I’ve upset a lot of people over the years. At first I thought this was due to my unwavering history of frank and fearless journalism but it turns out people just find me rather annoying. It is for this reason that I find the euthanasia debate a little bit worrying. I’ve seen the way my mother looks at me sometimes. There are also fiscal considerations. I am already in my mid-thirties and drink and smoke far too much. If I were bumped off now it would likely save the hospital system a great deal of money and - from what my bosses tell me - have no discernible impact on national productivity. This is not just a fear for myself of course but a fear for all of us who are vulnerable at times. These could be ageing grandmothers and grandfathers who might feel as though they are a burden on their families; chronically or terminally ill people who might succumb to a dark moment in a life that still has much happiness left; people who struggle each morning to fight back the black dog, forgetting they are often rewarded in the afternoons.
In 1995, the Northern Territory Parliament passed Australia's first euthanasia law: The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (NT). In 1997, the Commonwealth Parliament overrode the Territory law with its own Euthanasia Laws Act. The Commonwealth law did not repeal the Territory law but it rendered it inoperative. In 2008, Greens leader Senator Bob Brown took the opportunity, once the Howard Government was out of power and no longer in control of the Senate, to introduce his Rights of the Terminally Ill (Euthanasia Laws Repeal) Bill. It was a very shoddy piece of legislative drafting and went nowhere. The introduction of the bill was ham-fisted. Even the Northern Territory Government opposed the bill. The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Paul Henderson, said at the time, 'I find it very high-handed and arrogant of Bob Brown from Tasmania to be introducing legislation in the Federal Parliament that affects the Northern Territory, without any consultation at all with the Territory Government, or the people of the Northern Territory.'
The debate about euthanasia, or more accurately 'physician assisted suicide' — let's not dress it up by using soft language like 'death with dignity' — has reared its head again. We are told that there should be a legal right for certain persons (specifically doctors) to be able to kill an individual when that is what the individual wants. This claim to the right to assisted suicide, which comes out of a deep seated fear of the dying process, will have far reaching effects on the elderly and the sick should it become legalised. The other evening I was chatting with an older woman, a casual acquaintance, who lives alone: 'You know,' she said, 'I get the distinct feeling that as I am getting older I am becoming more and more invisible.' Just days ago I talked with an elderly man in his 80s, a widower of three years who is struggling to come to terms with his increased level of dependency: 'I feel that I am just a burden on my family,' he said. Where is this all coming from?
No 68.8%Yes 31.2%
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August 15, 2017
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