What euthanasia isn’t

December 15, 2017

Polls show a sizable majority in favour of euthanasia but a new poll shows many don’t understand what it means.

A new Curia Market Research poll shows New Zealanders are confused about what ‘assisted dying’ even means.

“This groundbreaking poll challenges the validity of most other polls on the issue. It shows that support for euphemisms such as ‘assisted dying’, ‘aid in dying’ or ‘assistance to end their life’ should not be taken as support for a law change,” says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

The more strongly a person supports ‘assisted dying’, the more likely they are confused about what it includes.

Of those who strongly support ‘assisted dying’:

• 85% thought it includes turning off life support

• 79% thought it includes ‘do not resuscitate’ (no CPR) requests

• 67% thought it includes the stopping of medical tests, treatments and surgeries.

In all three cases a person would die from their underlying medical condition – of natural causes.

These ‘end-of-life choices’ are legal and people can make their wishes known via Advance Care Planning.

This might look like angels dancing on a pin head but there is a very important difference between not doing something to prolong life and doing something to end it, withholding treatment that would extend a life and actively cutting it short.

Dr Amanda Landers is a palliative care doctor in the South Island, caring for people with a range of life-limiting conditions. She also gives presentations to nurses, doctors and the general public.

She says that many patients, and even some doctors, are unaware that stopping life-prolonging treatment and medication is legal and ethically acceptable. This means the person dies from their underlying illness – which is completely different from an intervention which deliberately ends their life prematurely.

“I was caring for a man in his 60s who was on peritoneal dialysis. He thought he would be committing euthanasia/suicide by stopping it. This belief was weighing heavily on his mind as he thought it was morally wrong.

“Once I explained to him that stopping dialysis was acceptable and that it would allow a natural death from his underlying illness, he stopped it.

“His family was unaware of his fears of dying by suicide/euthanasia and that he wanted to stop the dialysis. It was a very emotional moment for them when they heard how he was feeling, but ultimately they supported him in his choice.”

ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill proposes ‘assisted dying’ by administering drugs to end someone’s life, either by injection or ingestion through a tube (euthanasia) or by giving a lethal dose to a person to swallow or administer (assisted suicide).

There are subtle differences between suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia: It’s suicide when a person ends their own life. It’s assisted suicide when a person receives help to access the means to end their life but then takes the final action themselves. It’s euthanasia when the final action is performed by another person.

Only 62% of the 894 respondents polled thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs to swallow or self-administer (assisted suicide).

Only 68% of respondents thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs by injection (euthanasia).

New Zealanders are significantly less supportive of the administration of lethal drugs to end someone’s life than the notion of ‘assisted dying’ as a whole.

This is asking doctors to kill people.

After hearing which practices the proposed Bill would be limited to, support for ‘assisted dying’ dropped from 62% to 55%, opposition rose from 22% to 26% and unsure/refuse responses rose from 6% to 11%.

“We would expect public support to drop even further when people consider the wider implications and unintended consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation,” says Ms Joubert.

“A case in point is a 2014 UK ComRes poll which showed that public support for the Falconer Assisted Dying Bill dropped as low as 43% when people heard various arguments against changing the law or were provided with certain facts – for example the fact that six out of ten people requesting a lethal prescription in Washington State said a reason for doing so was their concern about being a burden on friends, family or caregivers.”

Assisted dying, euthanasia . . . call it what you will, it is a very emotional issue.

But as Bill English said during Wednesday evening’s debate, the issue for MPs is one of law.

.  . . I’m sure we’ve all had the experience—I know I have—or know about the experience, of witnessing the suffering, the fear, and the anxiety of a dying person and those around them and, sometimes, a difficult death. Alongside that personal connection, we have to weigh up, in our role as law makers—not just as parents or children or siblings or friends of those who we’ve seen die, but as law makers. Our role is not principally to alleviate suffering; our role is to ensure that our society has a set of laws that protect those who most need protection.

Did you know that in our law, section 179 of the Crimes Act, it is a crime to induce the suicide of another person, even if they don’t actually commit it—even if they don’t actually commit it? Why is that there? Because we don’t want people encouraging a depressed disabled young person that their life isn’t worth anything. As law makers, the reason there is a blanket prohibition is because “you” are not always the best judge of the value of your life, and the price that our community pays for enabling a doctor to take your life, free of criminal scrutiny, is that many other people are more vulnerable. Their lives will become more fearful, and they’ll become more subject to the pressure to make the judgment themselves that their life has less value and therefore they should make the decision. It is a slippery slope. That is why this bill, with its cold technical bureaucratic process of death, tries to look like it’s safe.

We have to weigh it up, and every Parliament up to now has said that the balance between what is enabled for an individual and the cost of that enablement to the rest of society is too big a risk to take. I put the case that as law makers that is the question that we need to weigh up: is the gain in personal autonomy—because the research shows people embark on euthanasia principally for autonomy reasons; they may not be suffering that much—worth the broader cost to our community? I don’t think anyone can in their heart of hearts believe that this bill will make life safer for the disabled or that it will make our community more warmly embracing of our ageing population. Who pretends that? It won’t—it won’t.

That is why I will oppose it and invite others to. You know, we’re not creating medical procedure here; we’re creating an exemption from the criminal law against killing for a specified group—that is doctors, who do not want to carry this burden—under some conditions that amount to box-ticking. So I ask the Parliament to consider that very carefully—the removal of the blanket prohibition against taking a life, which should be subject to scrutiny and accountability.

Euthanasia isn’t turning of life support.

It’s not adhering to do-not-resuscitate requests.

It’s not stopping treatment.

All those happen now and are both ethical and legal.

What doesn’t happen now is deliberately acting to end a life.

Proponents of euthanasia talk about a person’s right to die.

We all have the right to die.

What we don’t have is the right to kill and that’s what this Bill would give to doctors if it becomes law.

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Waka jumper law shows lack of faith in own

October 25, 2017

NZ First’s waka jumping bill shows a distinct lack of faith in the loyalty of their own:

An unexpected crackdown on ‘waka jumping’ suggests the new Government is bracing for instability, says ACT Leader David Seymour

“The incoming Government has quietly announced a bill to ban waka jumping in Parliament. This was never forecasted to voters, and for good reason. It suggests the new Government expects instability and defections. Today’s ceremonious unity will not last.

“Winston Peters is particularly paranoid because it’s his last parliamentary term. He’s been burnt by waka jumpers in the past, but this term could be his party’s most divisive yet. Why wouldn’t his caucus jump ship if they believe New Zealand First is doomed in 2020 anyway?

Why would you waste parliament’s time and resources if you trusted your team’s loyalty?

And how can we trust a government which doesn’t trust itself?


Electorate accommodation could backfire on both parties

October 18, 2017

Is an electorate accommodation on offer in an effort to woo Winston Peters?

Many commentators think this will be his last term. That has been said    before and while each time it’s said he’s a bit older, there’s no certainty he’ll be any keener on retirement in 2020 than he has been before.

Whether or not he stands again, the party is at risk of slipping below the 5% threshold and out of parliament unless it wins a seat.

But even if Peters wants to contest another election, it’s unlikely he’d risk standing and not winning an electorate. He’s won three but also lost them, he won’t want to lose another.

His repeated criticism of National for allowing electorate accommodations for Act and United Future, would open him to criticism should he ask for one to give him a better chance. But doing what he’s criticised others for doing isn’t usually a problem for him.

However, the people of Northland tired of him in less than a term and voted for Matt King instead. He will spend the next three years doing the hard work a good electorate MP does and winning the loyalty of voters by doing so.

They are unlikely to show enthusiasm for ignoring that and voting Peters back in, even if they’re given a very strong message from National to do so.

Other electorates that have been suggested where National might stand aside are Whangarei and Wairarapa.

Accommodations worked in Ohariu and Epsom. But Peter Dunne already held Ohariu when National’s then leader Jim Bolger gave the wink and nod to voters to give his party the party vote but vote for Dunne as the electorate MP.

Act’s Rodney Hide didn’t need an accommodation to win Epsom the first time. He won the seat from Richard Worth without any help from National.

In successive elections, National’s candidate campaigned only for the party vote making it easier for Hide and then David Seymour to win the electorate vote.

But that is very different from asking voters to drop support for a sitting MP to allow a New Zealand First candidate to win the electorate.

There will be no enthusiasm for that from National members and absolutely no guarantee that enough voters would be prepared to turn their backs on their MP in favour of the NZ First candidate.

It would be a very risky move which could backfire on both parties.

 


Knowing right from wrong

July 17, 2017

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has admitted she is a fraudster:

. . I was one of those women, who you hear people complain about on talkback radio.
Because despite all the help I was getting, I could not afford to live, study and keep my baby well without keeping a secret from WINZ.
Like many families who rely on a benefit, Piu and I moved around a lot when she was little.
We lived in five different flats with various people.
In three of those flats, I had extra flatmates, who paid rent, but I didn’t tell WINZ. I didn’t dare.
I knew that if I told the truth about how many people were living in the house my benefit would be cut.
And I knew that my baby and I could not get by on what was left.
This is what being on the benefit did to me – it made me poor and it made me lie.
It was a stressful, terrifying experience. . .

 

Turei isn’t the first MP to admit to benefit fraud, but this one paid it back:

Parliament is a house of representatives.

I doubt there is any MP who has not done something wrong, just as I doubt any of us who aren’t MPs could put our hands on our hearts and say we’ve never done anything wrong.

Doing wrong is one thing, not knowing right from wrong is quite another.

Turei has compounded the wrong of benefit fraud with no attempt to put it right and with the attempted justification: it made me poor and it made me lie.

What does it say about the morals of the woman who wants to be a Minister?

What does it say to people, especially those on low incomes, who work hard and pay taxes to support people in genuine need?

What does that say to all the people on benefits, all of whom are poor, many of whom don’t have the support Turei had from her baby’s father, her own family and his, and most of whom manage without lying?

It’s a similar message to the one in the policy she announced of removing the penalties and obligations on beneficiaries including the requirement for drug testing and sanctions for not actively seeking work.

Most beneficiaries want to get off benefits, many need help to do so which might include a carrot and a few need a stick.

Without sanctions, fathers of children whose mothers are on benefits will have to pay nothing, people who don’t try to get work-ready and actively seek work will be left to languish on benefits and everyone else will pay directly through taxes and indirectly through the social problems including poor health, low education achievement and higher crime that benefit dependency promotes.

Quote of the day on this goes to Act MP David Seymour:

Green Party policy: If you stay at home and smoke drugs all day you get a pay rise. If you get up and go to work you get a tax hike.

Benefits should help those in genuine need.

Some beneficiaries will need permanent help but for most taxpayer help should be a temporary bridge to help them from dependence to independence.

 


Labour now the Sweatshop Boys

June 23, 2017

Duncan Garner has the line of the day on the AM Show – he’s calling Labour the Sweatshop Boys.

He’s referring to the party’s botched intern scheme :

There are calls for Immigration NZ to investigate a Labour-linked election campaign which used unpaid labour in the guise of an education programme.

More than 80 overseas students have been doing unpaid “drudge work”, and living in a cramped Auckland marae without a working shower, reports political blog Politik. . .

Rivals ACT called the campaign a “sweat shop filled with immigrant labour”.

“I cannot believe the Labour Party’s do as we say, not as we do attitude. This is a new low for hypocrisy, even for them,” ACT leader David Seymour said.

“Who would believe in Labour’s promised crackdown on cheap student labour when Labour are one of the worst offenders in the country?” . . .

That is hypocrisy writ large.

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said Labour had to explain how it could justify “exploiting” international students for its election campaign while it was also speaking out against international education providers.

“This is truly appalling behaviour both for its lack of human decency and industrial strength hypocrisy,” Joyce said.

“If the allegations are correct, Labour has brought international students to New Zealand on false pretences, failed to look after them, and failed to meet their obligations to the students in the most basic way, while at the same time campaigning against exploitation of migrants.” . . .

Employers are very, very worried about Labour’s threatened changes to immigration.

Skills shortage in many sectors including IT, trades, farming, contracting and hospitality mean employers are already struggling to get anyone to fill positions. They’re wasting time, money and energy working their way through the process of employing immigrants.

Labour’s threatened changes would make that much, much worse.

These employers are working hard making a significant and positive economic and social contribution to New Zealand.

Labour wants to hobble them and yet has the hypocrisy to bring in people from overseas, not to work in productive businesses,  but to campaign for the party, and do it without pay.

Compounding that, the party that is supposed to stand up for workers put them up in sub-standard accommodation.

Matt McCarten did a mea culpe yesterday but the party can’t blame the mess only on him.

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it. . .

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks. The cost of feeding and housing them in motorhomes was estimated at $240,000, with an operational budget of $30,000 for petrol, venues and AT HOP cards.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.” . . .

Hypocrisy is bad enough, but there are also questions over which visas the students are on.

. . . We know these “fellows” are being given free accommodation in exchange for their work, so they are in breach of their visitor visa conditions, if they have visitor visas.

It is possible they have other visas, such as work visas. But it is hard to imagine they could qualify for work visas, and the hypocrisy would be great – Labour bringing in unpaid fellows on work visas, while campaigning against such work visas.

So it looks like either Labour has arranged 85 work visas for its unpaid fellows while campaigning to reduce the number of work visas for unskilled jobs or Labour has been complicit in a huge case of immigration fraud.

Even if the students are on working holiday visas, there are other questions:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse did not know whether Immigration NZ or MBIE’s labour inspectorate was investigating the issue, but believed Labour had serious questions to answer about possible breaches.

Woodhouse said the students would be allowed to undertake the work if they were on working holiday visas, as Labour believed, but there were still questions about whether there had been breaches of employment law.

“What I am aware of is similar schemes to this have been investigated very seriously by the labour inspectorate because it is work masquerading as voluntary work, and I think that is also a question that should be asked of the Labour Party.”

Providing services for food and board counted as work under employment law, he said.

“Regardless of what visa they’re on, there are certainly questions about the nature of the work they’re doing and whether that meets the definition of employment.” . .

The Sweatshop boys and girls in Labour will be sweating over this.

Even if there is no immigration fraud, what they are doing is in direct contradiction of their immigration policy and their supposed role in protecting workers from exploitation.

 

 


Optional hypocrisy

September 29, 2016

The Green Party has announced it won’t be contesting the Mt Roskill by-election, should there be one.

Not wasting time and resources on a contest they can’t win isn’t stupid but it shows up both the Greens and Labour as hypocrites.

Both have been highly critical of National for not trying to win Epsom and Ohariu to help Act’s and United Future’s candidates.

The hypocrisy is particularly bad for Labour’s candidate who stood in Epsom at the last election.

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Labour and the Greens claimed the principled high ground in their criticism of what they called ‘dirty deals’.

Neither can claim to be so principled and both are guilty of making the wrong choice when faced with otional hypocrisy.


Shanghai Maling goes where shareholders wouldn’t

September 21, 2016

Shanghai Maling’s application to purchase a 50 per cent interest in Silver Fern Farms has been approved.

Minister for Land Information Louise Upston, and Associate Minister for Finance Paula Bennett, the decision-making Ministers, are satisfied that the purchase would create substantial and identifiable benefit for New Zealand.

“The Overseas Investment Office recommended that we approve Shanghai Maling’s application because it meets the criteria set down in the Overseas Investment Act 2005,” Ms Upston says.

“We are satisfied that the investment will be of substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand, which is the test set out in the Act. The investment will put the company in a better financial position and allow it to increase its exports.

“New Zealand shareholders will continue to have 50 per cent ownership of Silver Fern Farms, while benefiting from the injection of funds from the new investor.”

Not surprisingly SFF has welcomed the decision:

The proposed investment is now unconditional and is set to complete on 4 January 2017, the first business day of the new financial year for the partnership.

Silver Fern Farms Chairman, Rob Hewett said the new partnership with Shanghai Maling creates a unique opportunity for Silver Fern Farms.

“Shanghai Maling’s financial investment will make Silver Fern Farms the financially strongest company in the New Zealand meat industry with the ability to confidently invest in our business.

“The partnership will help us accelerate our consumer focused plate to pasture strategy globally, and to grow sustainable value for our shareholders and farmer suppliers over time.

“It is very pleasing to now be at this point after nearly 12 months, and we look forward to the partnership getting underway in the new year.”

Shanghai Maling President Wei Ping Shen was pleased the partnership could now be completed. “We are very pleased with the regulatory approval for this partnership. It clears the way for us to move ahead with the partnership. New Zealand grass fed red meat is the best in the world and the Silver Fern Farms’ brand has the potential to become a leading red meat brand globally.”

Mr Hewett stated that after the investment completes the Co-operative will, as previously advised, pay a special dividend of 30c per share to all ordinary and rebate shares expected to be paid prior to 31 March 2017) and will commence the redemption of the remaining approximately $5m of Supplier Investment Shares outstanding.

 Federated Farmers says it’s a sensible decision for New Zealand:

New Zealand will enjoy benefits from the approval for Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a 50 percent ownership stake in Silver Fern Farms.

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair Rick Powdrell says it’s a sensible decision for the country and aligns the company better to service the needs of global markets in a modern world.

“New Zealand farmer-shareholders will continue to own 50 percent of the co-operative and will enjoy the benefits of access to the growing Chinese market.

“This is exactly what the farmer-shareholders wanted, with a majority voting last month for the deal to be approved,” says Rick.

The decision has been met with the inevitable concerns over foreign ownership.

One of those was Winston Peters and Act leader David Seymour says the NZ First leader’s paranoia should be ignored:

Winston Peters’ call for intervention over the partial sale of a private company proves he is unfit to be in Government, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“It’s disturbing that Winston Peters, who could potentially hold the balance of power after the election, would override the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office and block the partial sale of a private company,” says Mr Seymour.

“Why does Winston think he knows better than the thousands of Kiwi shareholders who voted for this sale?

Seymour is right – this is a decision for the shareholders, not politicians nor anyone else who has no money at stake.

However, he is a wee bit confused about what’s been sold:

“What’s Winston so afraid of? Does he think the cows will literally get shipped off to China? That the land itself will disappear? He’s just stirring up more anti-Chinese sentiment for cheap political gain.

SFF is a meat processing company which owns processing plants and the land they sit on but it’s not a farm.

“Blocking this sale would have prevented an injection of cash into the New Zealand economy, and would send a message to businesses that private property rights are not respected in this country.”

The critics fail to see that the decision brings money into New Zealand and, as Powdrell and Seymour say, it is what shareholders voted for.

They either didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to invest it in the company which would be in dire straits without it.

Shanghai Maling is going where shareholders couldn’t or wouldn’t.

This leaves just Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industry and those farmers who aren’t happy about the SFF-Shanghai Maling deal have the option of supplying the co-operative or any of the other companies, New Zealand-owned or not.

Details of the decision are at Land Information NZ


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