Recently two significant events have occurred in the push to reform the law about how we die. Canada has finally passed a law that implements to a restricted degree the nine person judgement by the Canadian Supreme Court that dying Canadians human rights were infringed by the Crimes Act law that makes the act of assisting people to die a crime. At the World Federation Right to Die Conference in Amsterdam many of the Canadians who attended the conference were unhappy with the restrictions proposed by the law and wished that Canada had just followed the legal judgement by developing regulations for doctors. Nevertheless however limited it is dying Canadians are able to access the law to get assistance to die.
The other event which I’m sure everyone will have been following is the provision of the final report by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the report apart from the decision to recommend that the Victorian Parliament put in place law to support assisted dying was that the committee decided that the arguments for and against the issue did not need to be rehashed. I hope that when the report is tabled in the Victorian Parliament that Victorian politicians adopt the same approach. If you do not have a copy of the report please let the committee know and we will forward the relevant sections to you.
The World Federation Right to Die Conference was a very successful event in Amsterdam in May. About four hundred people from all over the world attended the multi themed conference. It was possible for example to attend the law theme right through the 3-4 days of the conference or to switch across themes. I gave my speech on the first day so I was free to relax after that and to attend the sessions which interested me. My speech was well accepted and it is now on the website if you wish to read it. The World Federation conference site also has all of the speeches on it so if you have kept the emails sent to you about the conference previously you should be able to access all the speeches.
I am continuing on the board of the World Federation as the secretary so I will be able to be in a position to keep you informed of any developments in the Federation. I can let you know that the transition of the Federation’s headquarters from New York to Zurich has proceeded successfully. We have a new President, Sean Davison, who is from South Africa but grew up in New Zealand. The new five person committee has a representative from the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, South Africa and Australia.
YourLastRight.com our national organization has agreed to work with an organization that Andrew Denton has set up to run a media campaign to attempt to raise the professionalism of our approach and in doing that to make more impact on the politicians and, I hope, the political parties. I think everyone who watches the media will have been aware that Andrew Denton has taken the euthanasia issue on in the last year or so. Because he has a high profile and also a great deal of professional experience in the media we hope we can improve our prospects of law reform through this partnership.
Recently the DWDACT committee asked life members if they would like to contribute to our campaign fund and some have generously made a further contribution. I would like to thank them for their belief in us and their financial contributions. This means that we are now in a position to budget properly for a campaign to make an impact on the Canberra community. Naturally we will be careful with your money. Whatever we choose to do will be strategic in both budgetary terms and also in terms of making the most impact in the community.
The committee is planning to lobby Federal politicians after the election. We have spent the last ten years mainly addressing the local politicians with little success apart from the fact that they know we exist. Where they have not blocked us outright they have repeatedly met our efforts with advice that we must direct our efforts to the Federal parliament. This is a big task but I have come to the conclusion that we have no other choice. There is a federal parliamentary committee that discusses dying with dignity issues so we are going to start there by presenting them with our own ideas and to see if they have advice to offer us as well. After that we will see the attorney general, whoever that is after the election and the shadow attorney general. The Greens are sympathetic to our issue so I am sure we will be talking to them. The Liberal Democrats have also shown interest. Whatever happens in Victoria should make a difference to the way Federal politicians react on this issue.
Our final general meeting for the year will be held on the 20th October at 2.00 p.m. at Belconnen Arts Centre. We are making a second attempt to see if people from the north side will be motivated to come to a meeting if it is located in their area. We will provide directions as well as a notice of meeting closer to the time of the meeting. If you do live on the north side and would like to invite someone to attend please do so. We have a number of possibilities for the speaker and have not yet finalized who that will be so we will let you know closer to the time.