There are certain issues, and euthanasia is right up the top of the list, that fire most of us up. We are one side or the other. There isn’t a lot of of gray in euthanasia. Victoria’s new legislation has changed the picture I guess; the Australian state is a very close and tangible example of what’s possible, and I am sure that experience and result will be wheeled out more than once.
But ultimately, and here’s your problem, this is all up to the politicians – and I’m not sure they’re the right people for it.
As much as we may believe that Select Committee means something, it’s limited. A committee might well have a welcome sign on the door, but the ears belong to people with agendas. More often than not, the submissions belong to a tried and true list of professionals who have been at the table before. It’s not really a Mum and Dad sort of place, it’s not really a town hall sort of vibe. In many respects, and call me sceptical, it’s a charade. It’s the illusion of democracy that on a good day may lead to some tinkering
or minor adjustment of whatever it is they’re looking at. But if you’re looking for numbers, percentages, representation of genuine community mood, then this isn’t your forum.
Which is why it should probably go to a referendum.
I’m agnostic on a referendum. The public polls show overwhelming support for legalising euthanasia so a referendum would make change more likely, not less likely. But I’m also wary about setting a precedent about what does and does not go to referendums. I prefer a referendum to be on constitutional issue.
NZ First in the coalition agreement said they want a conscience vote on having the End of Life Choice Bill going to a referendum. Such an amendment would be done at the Committee of the House stage after second reading. I guess you’d do it by inserting a clause saying that the law only comes into effect if a referendum has over 50% of those voting, vote in favour of the law.