For release: September 13, 2010

Federal and Territory politicians should consider the multiple rejections of euthanasia legislation in jurisdictions across Australia in recent years, according to the Australian Christian Lobby’s Northern Territory Director Tristan Hatcher.

Greens Leader Bob Brown is again seeking to leverage the NT Assembly to further his radical social agenda by moving to have the Commonwealth’s anti-euthanasia laws overturned.

Mr Hatcher said that the figure of 85 per cent of respondents to the NT News’s Reader Issues Survey, who said the Rights of the Terminally Ill (ROTI) Act should be reinstated, should be viewed cautiously, especially given the fact that people themselves chose to take part in the newspaper poll.

“It is routinely reported that euthanasia holds majority public support, but once sunlight is shone on the consequences of legalised euthanasia, law-makers quickly reject the devaluing of life that these laws usher in,” Mr Hatcher said.

“There is a very real danger that the “right to die” becomes the “duty to die”, or perhaps worse. In the Netherlands it is estimated that 1000 people each year are euthanized without their consent, illustrating that voluntary euthanasia can too easily become involuntary euthanasia. This Legislation sends the wrong message to the most vulnerable in our society, and treats their lives as expendable instead of holding them as having intrinsic value,” Mr Hatcher said.

“Territorians should also be more careful of euthanasia advocates such as Dr Philip Nitschke, who by his own admission bypassed safeguards in the ROTI legislation when it was in force.

“On 31 August last year, Dr Nitschke told a Tasmanian inquiry into its later-rejected Dying with Dignity Bill 2009 that, ‘Maybe it was a breach, but it was a breach motivated, I would say, by compassion,’ in relation to a patient he euthanized in 1997.

“There also remain serious doubts about whether two of the four people who died under the NT laws were actually terminally ill. Of the seven people whose deaths were associated with the laws, four were said to have symptoms of depression,” Mr Hatcher said.

“The ROTI Act proved there can be no effective safeguards in euthanasia legislation, and why vulnerable elderly, sick and depressed Territorians should be concerned about a revisit to the dangerous experiment of legalised euthanasia.”

Mr Hatcher said more resources to modern palliative care was the answer to end of life suffering, not euthanasia.