In the 01/10/2019 edition:

MPs should examine facts on euthanasia, rather than crystal balls

Jan 10, 2019 01:38 pm

Stuff 10 January 2019
Family First Comment: Excellent analysis of the euthanasia issue…
“Vulnerable people are at an unacceptable risk of wrongful death under laws such as these.”

OPINION“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future,” said the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr. Maryan Street should have heeded this tongue-in-cheek warning when she forecast that the End of Life Choice Bill would become law this year. Prediction is always hard, but it’s near impossible when it’s based on the kind of partial information found in her article.

The stakes are high with this bill, which would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the public and the MPs who will be voting on it need much better information than Street provided. So let’s look at some of the key issues that MPs might consider.

First, they’re likely to look overseas and see that laws like these are rejected more often than they pass, because most lawmakers look at the evidence and decide these practices are just too risky. Street tells us that Victoria passed an assisted dying law in 2017, but not that similar laws were rejected by South Australia in 2016, Tasmania in 2017, New South Wales in 2017, and the Northern Territories in 2018.

Second, MPs will probably look at the “Sponsor’s Report” on the bill, by ACT leader David Seymour. He suggests limiting the bill to cover terminal illness only, and making it conditional on a public referendum. But it is wrong and misleading to say, as Street does, that his report is “making some critical amendments”, as though these proposals have been accepted. They are simply Seymour’s ideas; only Parliament can change the bill now.

Third, MPs will be looking at how similar laws have worked overseas. For example, in Oregon, which legalised assisted suicide for terminal illness, 55 per cent of patients accessing assisted suicide said one of their reasons was fear “of being a burden on family, friends and caregivers”. This number has been rising steadily over the years, and it should be a concern for a law that is supposed to be based on free choice.

This kind of law can also expand. In Belgium, euthanasia was originally limited to adults, but was extended to children in 2014, although with some limitations. The numbers accessing assisted suicide have also grown steadily in places such as Washington state, with 196 deaths in 2017 compared with 64 in 2009. Street herself notes how disappointed she will be if “grievous and irremediable” medical conditions are no longer eligible for euthanasia and assisted suicide, and if a limited version of the bill is passed it would be surprising if pro-euthanasia campaigners didn’t try to expand the eligibility criteria in future.

There’s much more detail about the evidence, and analysis of the bill, in our submission; in summary, it shows that vulnerable people are at an unacceptable risk of wrongful death under laws such as these.

Lastly, MPs will probably ask themselves what voters think, and realise there is significant public opposition to the bill. While Street mentions that more than 35,000 people made written submissions on the bill, she doesn’t mention reports suggesting that the vast majority of submitters opposed the bill; unofficial estimates put it as high as 90 per cent.

While opinion polls consistently find that a majority of the public supports euthanasia and assisted suicide, it’s odd not to mention submitters’ opposition, especially as submitters have specifically considered this bill and have probably thought about the issue more deeply than someone put on the spot by a polling company’s random call.

It’s only human for our predictions to be coloured by our desires and, as president of the End-of-Life Choice Society (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), it’s perhaps not surprising that Street’s crystal ball appears to have given her the answer she wanted. But legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide is one of the most consequential issues that Parliament will consider this year, and a bit less crystal ball-gazing and a bit more attention to the facts would do us all a favour.

* Alex Penk is chief executive of the Maxim Institute, an independent research and policy think tank.

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Poll says dope referendum would easily pass – or would it?

Jan 10, 2019 01:03 pm

2020 cannabis referendum would easily pass, poll says 
NewsHub 9 January 2019
Family First Comment: The poll is simply not robust or reliable. It’s a self selected polling panel with prizes offered to join.
And 10% of the sample group say they use dope daily! Ministry of Health says the true figure is just 3.7%. Did Horizons get their respondents from a rock concert?But it’s interesting that Paul Manning and Big Marijuana is pushing this. Just as we predicted – and warned. Big Tobacco 2

A new poll reveals a large majority of New Zealanders would support legalising recreational cannabis use in the Government’s 2020 referendum.

The independent survey of nearly 1000 people, conducted by Horizon Research, surveyed Kiwis on their attitudes towards cannabis, law reform, and its use.

It shows 60 percent of adults would vote to support legalising cannabis for personal use in a referendum, with 24 percent against. Just 16 percent had no opinion.

The survey also reveals that 55 percent of adult New Zealanders have used cannabis at some time during their lives, while 10 percent said they use cannabis daily – or around 340,000 Kiwis.

The poll had a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence level. But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie, who opposes the ‘yes’ vote, says the poll is “simply not robust or reliable”.
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Spike in divorce applications: ‘It’s that New Year’s resolution’

Jan 10, 2019 12:32 pm

TVNZ One News 7 January 2019
Family First Comment:  A sad reality – but at least NZ has a structure in place which means that divorces can’t be done quickly and without due consideration – as has become the situation in the UK.
We should be providing all the financial and relationship counselling and resources possible to help couples possibly avoid a marriage breakdown.

While most people are slowly easing themselves into work after the holidays, divorce lawyers know they will need to hit the ground running.

Senior divorce lawyer Jeremy Sutton said couple inquiries and applications for divorce spike this month.

“The unhappiness may sort of drift along during the year, but in some cases people with children might say ‘look we’re just gonna have one more Christmas with the kids and then in the new year I’m gonna do something about it’.

“Often it’s that New Year’s resolution.”

He said the financial stress of Christmas, holidays and couples spending more time together could propel them to consider splitting up.

“They’re spending three or four weeks together over the Christmas period and they never spend time like that together during the year so that can cause tensions as well.”

But he said a lot are not prepared for the time and effort a divorce takes.



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$488 million in drugs seized through Ports of Auckland vs $4000 Port of Tauranga

Jan 10, 2019 12:05 pm

NZ Herald 8 January 2019
Family First Comment: “Acting Minister of Customs Iain Lees-Galloway said the government was strongly committed to stopping the flow of illicit drugs across our borders and reducing the harm caused by illegal substances in our communities.”
Good. Don’t legalise then.

Just over $4000 worth of drugs has been seized by Customs from ships in the Port of Tauranga since 2009, compared with more than $400 million seized through the Ports of Auckland.

Since 2009, Customs has seized drugs with a street value of $488.9 million through the Ports of Auckland compared to just $4083 through the Port of Tauranga.

The data obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times from Customs under the Official Information Act did not include 46kg of cocaine seized at the Port of Tauranga in November last year, as it was a joint operation with police.

Methamphetamine accounted for $276.6m worth of drugs seized at Ports of Auckland compared to $2260 worth of ecstasy at Port of Tauranga that was found earlier this year.

Customs communications and events director Simon Lambourne said most drug seizures in Auckland were at the port, at the airport, or through international mail.

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