The issue that will not die: 76% support for euthanasia
We all have to pay tax. And then we have to die.
These two fundamentals are well understood by most Australians - that’s what I surmise from our latest Auspoll. Somewhat astonishingly, to me anyway, a massive 76 per cent of Australians we asked this week said people with terminal illnesses should be allowed to choose euthanasia without breaking the law.
76 per cent is an extraordinary figure. It’s hard to get that for a tax cut. We thought we would find a modest majority on this question, but backing from four out of five Australians for the right to choose the timing and manner of our inevitable exit is very emphatic.
The topic of dying isn’t one any of us like to dwell on and it’s a good way to find yourself talking to the dog at your average barbeque. Just the same, it appears to be a thing most of us have given a little thought to and made up our minds about. It’s not just a matter of remote theoretical policy; it is one of those topics where you can very easily ask the question: ‘What if that was me?’.
We know we’re going to die one day - we probably don’t want to die badly. Since the recent Federal election, in which no one’s quite sure what happened, we’re all reasonably sure the Greens party have gained a new pre-eminence and now, carefully, they are running out a couple of their pet issues upon which they want to extract a result from this strange new Parliament. One of them is euthanasia.
You’re extremely sick with an illness and a full committee of doctors with whole alphabets after their names say ‘it could be two months but we reckon it’s closer to one’, and you know from horrific, recent experience that all those weeks are going to be an agony of vicious pain and misery, especially for your loved ones who are being torn up by watching you go through all this. Most of us, it seems, can imagine that. And believe in opting out.
Even more surprisingly 79 per cent of those we polled this week believe the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory should have the same right to make laws around this vexed ethical question as all the states do - the federal Parliament legislated that right away when the NT moved to introduce new laws a few years back.
This could well be just the Australian sense of fair play in operation. Why should some of us have State governments which can do that and not others?
Whatever it is, the Greens have put this issue on the agenda. They have a range of policy notions in their platform, and their leader Bob Brown is being cagey about which they will push for. Voluntary euthanasia is one they’ve flagged early. It’s one we can say most Australians support.
Both the major parties now have to deal with it. In the new, ultra-tight and oh-so-brittle Parliamentary arrangement, everyone would be well advised to heed public opinion this strong.
Many of the Greens favourite playthings are deeply unpopular in mainstream Australia, and some of them impossible for any government to contemplate. But not this one. Expect the Greens, therefore, to run hard on it
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…