Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2247 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

without the knowledge, let alone consent, of patients or their families and a further 6,000 lives were actively terminated through the administration of lethal doses of drugs. Of those undergoing involuntary euthanasia, 1,500 were fully competent, and in 8 per cent of cases other courses of action were still possible.

As I have just said, Mr Speaker, my friend Mr Moore has been known to question these figures and probably will question them today, saying that they are misinterpretations of the original statistical data. The writers of the original report agree that that may be the case, saying that only a small number of people have been euthanased. Mr Speaker, I think that their objections fall down, however, on two counts. Firstly, they define euthanasia in uncommonly narrow terms and use other terms, such as "assisted suicide" or "drugs administered with the explicit purpose of hastening death without explicit request", which they say are not euthanasia. Secondly, if I were to concede, which I emphatically do not, that the numbers were wrong, the report still shows that people are dying without their explicit request; that is, they are being killed - nothing more, nothing less.

Mr Moore: The same as happens here.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, when Mr Moore stood up and gave his speech, I went out of my way to sit here and not say a word, so I request that he do the same while I give mine. Is that fair?

MR SPEAKER: You have the Chair's protection, Mr Osborne.

Mr Moore: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You could explain to Mr Osborne that a small amount of healthy interjection - indeed, my interjection was rather minor - is a normal part of parliamentary practice, but I shall contain myself.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Please contain yourself, Mr Moore. Proceed, Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, surely this is a breach of the autonomy and freedom to choose that form such an important part of pro-euthanasia arguments. Before I move on, Mr Speaker, I think we need to realise two things. First, with the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia there is no doubt that over time the quality of medical treatment and care will generally deteriorate as killing, rather than treating, becomes an acceptable alternative in medical care. I would suggest that the resources of the medical community concentrate on eliminating the problem and not the person. Secondly, practical experience has shown that people will die unnecessarily as a consequence of governments allowing voluntary euthanasia. There can be no escaping this, Mr Speaker. Can Mr Moore guarantee that this will never happen? In the Netherlands this has brought anxiety and fear to many, particularly the elderly and the ill.

The next area I want to deal with, Mr Speaker, is autonomy. It would seem to me that this is the main thrust of Mr Moore's argument. The question posed is whether this type of legislation is going to increase the autonomy of the seriously ill or whether it is going to diminish that autonomy. The pro-euthanasia lobby has presented the case that people should spend more time thinking about how they want to die. I certainly do not disagree,

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .