Across the Ditch: Australian radio FiveAA.com.au’s Peter Godfrey and EveningReport.nz’s Selwyn Manning deliver their weekly bulletin Across the Ditch. This week Peter and Selwyn go deep on the euthanasia debate. New Zealand politicians are hearing verbal submissions on the pros and cons of euthanasia. But should we be cautious about letting politicians legislate on this very very very important issue?
Euthanasia – The NZ Parliament has begun hearing submissions on euthanasia, largely from people wishing to give a verbal rationale on whether politicians ought to consider making euthanasia legal in New Zealand.
Political parties in New Zealand are warming to the idea of getting a bill before the house that would make it legal for people in New Zealand to receive assistance with ending their lives.
For background, here is a link to an editorial I wrote on euthanasia.
I have written editorials against euthanasia, basing my argument on investigative reporting I did in the 1990s when the then National led Government brought in (through stealth) exclusion criteria affecting those seeking life saving treatments like dialysis.
The back then, doctors treating people suffering end stage renal failure were presented with criteria that excluded their patients from accessing renal dialysis treatment if they were blind, had a history of mental illness, intellectual disability, displayed antisocial behaviour, had a criminal conviction, were over 65 years of age.
The government’s move to stop people getting this life saving treatment was largely fiscally motivated. The criteria was supposed to remain secret. I discovered the Minister had authorised it and had the government’s health finding authority present the criteria to doctors as an ethical framework through which they could ascertain what categories of people would be prevented from accessing dialysis.
The reportage caused a political furore. Urgent Parliamentary debates followed… In the end the then Minister of Health Jenny Shipley (later prime minister) was forced to ditch the exclusion criteria policy and disestablish the Core Health Services Committee that she set up to drive such policies.
At that time, the National Government was able to legally exclude people on this basis as it had passed a law that excluded government entities from having to work within the ‘constraints’ of the human rights act.
Leaked official documents I obtained back then revealed how the Health Minister was about to roll out exclusion criteria for coronary care, oncology care, basically all areas of health care where it was considered a heavy fiscal burden on the State.
On euthanasia… My argument is, that based on the experiences of reporting the exclusion criteria issue in the 1990s, my concern today is: euthanasia laws, while well meaning, could be used by future governments as a means of addressing fiscal pressures and a way to reduce the State’s continuing care cost-burdens.
If the politicians really want to debate the merits of euthanasia, I say, first, let them answer this: As the baby boomer generation ages, at what point does the fiscal burden on the State become politically unsustainable?
Here in New Zealand it does appear that point is getting closer.
Sport – While Australia’s Wallabies played themselves back toward respectability last weekend beating Argentina’s Pumas 31 – 21… Spare a thought for the poor ole Springboks. The All Blacks beat them in Durban 57 -15!
The win notched up a rugby world record with the All Blacks having now won 17 international tests without any losses.
Even the POMEs are saying this is the best international team ever to play the game, and Aussie rugby great Marc Ella says the Kiwis can’t be beaten when Australia turns out for a hiding at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday October 22.
To lay it on thick, Australia hasn’t beaten New Zealand at rugby at Eden Park since 1983. That’s 33 years! Can you guys do it? Well, let’s wait and see.
Don’t worry though, the Cricket season will soon be upon us 🙂