Voluntary Euthanasia

31 Aug 2006 archivespeech

This speech is to indicate that the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK opposes the Voluntary Euthanasia motion.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I oppose this motion. There are obviously several issues and they are very emotive issues. I do not want to go over the history of what other members have already stated, but it started off as being a campaign for the cause of legalised voluntary euthanasia. I would have to say that, after the Hon. Sandra Kanck’s address yesterday, I would be less inclined to support that legislation than I have ever been in the past, because I think that she misused the opportunity that she had by drawing into the controversial issue of suicide and the publication of material relating to that. She has polarised the debate and brought into the debate the impact that her comments might have on vulnerable people who might be suffering from depression or some other mental illness. I think that we all share concern for that group of people.

I would reject the notion that not supporting this motion is in any way being unsympathetic to their cause. I would have to say that I felt very uncomfortable at times during the contribution of the Hon. Sandra Kanck yesterday. From my recollection, just about every member of this parliament was seated here, and therefore I say that the opportunity to object was presented to us yesterday. Why do we suddenly, just before question time, receive notification from the government that it intends to move this motion? We all sat here, quite frankly, in silence—some of us feeling very uncomfortable— when we all had the opportunity to object and to move that the member no longer be heard, but no-one did so.

This is just a ploy by the Rann Labor government. It heard the response on the radio this morning and said suddenly, ‘We better do something about it.’ As has been stated previously, the horse has already bolted. In fact, I agree with honourable members who have already stated that we are indeed playing into the hands of the Hon. Sandra Kanck in even debating this motion.

I received a media release from SANE Australia, which is much more focused on the reporting of the issue and the way it should be played out in the media. It also refers to a document containing some guidelines in relation to thereporting of suicide and mental health in the media. Under point 2 on page 5, it states: 2. Impact of media reporting—the evidence: Suicide - reliable Australian research shows that reporting of suicide can have an impact on vulnerable people. - The way in which it is reported appears to be particularly significant...

It cites the instance of when Kurt Cobain committed suicide.Suicide rates actually fell because the way in which it was reported was that it was a tragic waste and an avoidable loss and focused on the devastating impact of the act on others.

I think that we need to be careful about being very simplistic in our approach to these things and look at the facts behind them. I think that it is quite ironic that we are debating this because, clearly, it will be reported by the press. I urge honourable members not to play into the hands of either the government or indeed the Hon. Sandra Kanck by supporting this motion.