The DWDACT committee has decided to cancel the two remaining meetings scheduled for this year i.e., the September 16 committee meeting and the General Meeting on October 21. It seems foolish to attempt meetings in circumstances we face with Covid 19, lockdowns and face masks. We are looking at alternative strategies for meeting, especially for committee meetings. We hope to meet as a committee face to face in January to prepare for 2022 and I hope that we will all be able to meet for the AGM in March or April 2022.
In the meantime, I have committed to providing you with a Bulletin every two weeks while the Covid 19 restrictions are in place.
I regularly receive newsletters from an organization called Media Watch and I also receive newsletters from the World Federation of Right to Die Societies of which we are a member. I thought that I would pull together some of the news from each newsletter in a way that would make it relevant for our circumstances here in the ACT.
Jane Morris is one of the compilers of Media Watch. She writes that In the VAD world, Queensland has again dominated the news.
Her first point is about the activism of Tanya Battel and Fiona Jacobs who have
presented a petition to the Queensland Deputy Premier. This petition was signed by 112,000 pro-VAD Queenslanders, from over the entire state.
One of the mistakes DWDACT made when the ACT Labor Party formed the committee on End-of-Life Choices a few years ago was to assume that ACT people would show an active interest in supporting end of life choices. They did not do this and the apparent lack of interest led the committee to conclude that people in the ACT do not want choice at the end of their lives. Active collection of signatures in a petition is vital to make an impact on politicians.
The poor outcome of The End-of-Life Choices committee has resulted in two members preparing and circulating two surveys of local, National and International DWD groups and ACT National Seniors. Both surveys show strong support for end-of-life choices as everyone would expect. The outcome of that silly report merely delayed the inevitable but it does not help to be overconfident. We must recognize that those who are opposed to human beings actively assisting others to die have influence on the votes of those in our Assembly and certainly in the Federal Parliament where we are most actively blocked by the Euthanasia Laws Act.
An interesting evening was going to be held in August at Smith’s Alternative in Civic. It was cancelled due to the lockdown but I have since written to the organizers asking for a speaking spot and they have agreed. There are people who will be going to speak who could potentially be speakers we may like to hear from as well. I expect it will be reconvened once this lockdown is over.
David Swanton and I met with Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas earlier this year to discuss the idea of a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue of assisted dying. Bob has canvassed this idea in The Canberra Times and with Tara Cheyne MLA. David and I will be pursuing the idea when we speak to Shane Rattenbury MLA in October (assuming no lockdown) and Tara Cheyne in November. However, the main purpose of our meetings is to discuss the survey David has conducted with DWD groups.
I expect to hear in the next week or so that Queensland has a law giving people access to an assisted death. That will leave NSW and the territories without such laws. The pressure on the most conservative parliaments in the country i.e., the federal and the NSW parliaments will be intense.