Saturday 30 May 2009

JCU euthanaise Council and Cairns Post story

Director of the pro-euthanasia group, Exit International Philip Nitschke, will be speaking in Cairns on Monday morning, contrary to the Cairns Post today.

The four-time nominee for Australian of the Year who holds a PhD in laser physics, is in Townsville this weekend, on route to a planned Cairns function on Monday.

Cairns Regional Council has banned Nitschke from holding his public forum in a meeting room at the city library.

"As soon as I became aware that Dr Nitschke had been denied access to Council-run facilities, I was horrified," Janine Aitken, Education Officer of James Cook University's Cairns Student Association told CairnsBlog.

Aitken, who ran for Council in 2008 against Sno Bonneau, has arranged for Dr Nitschke to speak at James Cook University, instead of the Cairns Regional Council library in Cairns.

"It's amazing that in this day and age the opportunity for open debate and access to information is being denied by Cairns Regional Council," Aitken said. "I see the need for this discussion to be had and am fortunate that I am supported by a Student Council that believes in the importance of free speech."

"We are delighted to be able to provide a venue for Dr Nitschke to speak at."

Nitschke called the Council’s decision “farcical and implausible”.

JCU Cairns Campus president, Justin Ganzer also warmly welcomes the controversial doctor to speak at his University, that the brain-dead lazy media refer to as 'Dr Death'.

"Although some people may not agree with what he has to say, or the certain ideas that he's putting across, nonetheless he should be able to express them," Justin Ganzer said this afternoon.

"We are approaching this delicately to ensure we're not upsetting anyone by holding this event. We had to talk with the University hierarchy to "make sure it wasn't going to cause any controversy for them," Ganzer says.

"I believe if you're going to have intelligent debate on any subject matter, you need to at least express both sides, or as many sides as possible. Whether you agree with it or not, this isn't a way to debate a topic."

"The [Cairns] Council acted in the best interests of their concerns, however I would assume that if there was concerns like that, there were measures that could be be taken. I guess the Council has their reasons for doing that."

You can listen to my interview with Justin here:

Carenda Jenkin, writing in today's Cairns Post, said that the Cairns city library wouldn't host a event because of security concerns...
  • [Nitschke's] office was told that “too many people may wish to attend” and “security would need to be involved, as they were at the last gathering”.

    But Dr Nitschke denied security was needed at a previous meeting in Cairns due to numbers. He said it was due to a power failure.

    “We booked this venue in March and we are three days out from our workshop and there’s no time to find another place to hold it,” he said. “We haven’t had any trouble in Townsville and we’ve been to the Cairns library before and we haven’t had any problems in May 2005, when 50 people turned up.

    “This mirrors what happened in Mackay when their neighbourhood centre made a last minute cancellation due to the philosophical views of the booking agent.

    Cairns library manager Kerrie Still said the booking had not been confirmed but an inquiry had been made by Exit International’s Lindy Boyd in March.

    “The booking form was referred to me as the meeting purpose stated on the form was for a “public meeting” and in response to a standard question on the form answered “yes, would possibly attract media attention’,” she said.

    “The terms and conditions of use clearly state that library facilities are not available for public meetings that could exceed maximum venue capacity.”

Simple. Only let the first 100 in.

  • Ms Still said she called Dr Nitschke’s office and suggested that a larger facility would better suit their needs. “There was no last minute response or any delay on the part of the library,” Ms Still said.

Yeah, sure. I bet some right-wing nut in Spence Street sent you orders when they got wind of it. I recall former Mayor Kevin Byrne banning Puppetry of the Penis from the Cairns Civic Theatre on more than one occasion, because he thought it was a bit too rude for Cairns.

Don't you love it when our politicians try to censor what we're allowed to see and hear?

  • Queensland Right to Life Cairns branch president Dr Tim Coyle said he was delighted to hear Mr Nitschke’s workshop had encountered some problems.

    “The usual thing in those workshops is that they give a detailed instruction on how to commit suicide and these kind of workshops are a bad influence,” Dr Coyle said.

And you can sit in on a Council meeting and learn how some Councillors can multi-task: txt message their girl-friends and vote on selling off properties, all at the same time!

Nitschke's book, Killing Me Softly, that he co-wrote with Dr Fiona Stewart, was a compelling and radical examination of the euthanasia debate. Janet Homes a Court called said it advanced the discussion on dying painlessly and with dignity.

Nitschke was the first doctor in the world to administer a legal, voluntary, lethal injection.

Come and hear Dr Phillip Nitschke speak on Monday June 1st, from 11:30am to 2:30pm.

  • James Cook University
    McGregor Road, Smithfield
    The Refectory, Ground Floor
    Building A2


Paul said...

Obviously, the answer to those who are opposed to A.S is to give them a dose of cancer or (pick a disease) whose pain cannot be masked adiquitly with morphine - then make them sit by the bed, night after night, clutching their bible and watch ... it's fun. A bit of bed shitting, some screaming, some begging ... night after night ... day after day ,.... it's easy to be brave when you're not sick, it's easy to be morally resolute when it's not someone you love ... let 'em die if they choose, isn't that the whole point of freedom?

S. Northy said...

I don't understand the fuss. We swtich off life support machines and watch people struggle to live..the body keeps on trying to breathe etc. Then we give cancer people huge does of morphine which effectivelt kils them...

Dutchie said...

There's two issues here:

1) a civil servant (as far as I am concerned it could be a left-wing nut too) pulling the plug on this last minute;

2) the euthenasia debate.

Ad 1) very worrying that this could have happened - very rude, actually. Dr. Coyle's argument is rubbish: if you want to find out how to kill yourself, just Google and you'll be presented with plenty of ideas.

Ad 2) I believe in the freedom of the individual to decide what it wants to do with him/herself. Or, allowing others to make the decision if that person is unable to do so, after prior authorisation. However, there must be strict conditions under which this euthanasia may be performed (of course!).

In the Netherlands, euthanasia is a criminal offence, unless certain conditions are fulfilled. So, conversely, if euthanasia is performed and complies with the law, it is in fact legal.

There's hardly any debate about this there, and it's no real issue (1.2% of all deaths are due to euthanasia). The majority of cases involve cancer or HIV/AIDS patients.

Please read the following summary outline of how it works in The Netherlands (whether you are for or against it):

Wikipedia: Euthanasia in the NetherlandsBasically, The Netherlands have codified a (guideline for a) practice that happens everywhere in the world ('undercover' euthanasia), thereby decriminalising doctors that comply with the patient's rational wishes.

And no, that didn't result in mass murders!

Pull the Plug on Cairns Blog said...

Typical left-wing claptrap masquerading as "news".

Despite Ms. Still at the Library giving you her story, you've called her a liar, defaming and slandering her.

And with what? A statement "Yeah, sure. I bet. . ." This ain't journalism, pal.

peterbartholomuse said...

This is has all the hallmarx of a media beat up. Kerry Still is abiding by the rules and has acted within her brief. The last meeting in 2005 was a quiet affair with little media attention... this could have been the same, except that whoever booked the library has gone outside the rules, by declaring it a public meeting that media could well be interested in.
This action has probably had the unexpected effect of giving Nitschke's meeting a higher profile than it would have otherwise gained. The CRC has been put in an invidious position, and the supposed late cancellation is the only issue here ... everything else is pure speculation and hyperbole

Unknown said...

what is the matter with listening to an argument put by someone knowledgeable. it'd be a sad day indeed if we prevented Mr Coyle from speaking in a public venue because someone might use this as an excuse to create a breach of the peace. Right-to-Lifers and their ilk do this all the time, and in Cairns, too, but we don't ban them.

Lillian at Yorkeys said...

All I have to say - is that if the Old Dog or Cat or the Budgie have gone past their use-by date & are looking very ordinary & sad & weary, & their kidneys/heart/lungs (etc etc) are failing, we go to the friendly vet, who does the Big Green Needle Thingie. Having gone through a fair few of these in my life with much-beloved pets, it takes all of about one minute, little or no pain, & they are released from their bodily suffering. They can go to heaven, & we go cry a river, as you do. Then we get up the next day, bury the beloved & life goes on, or it doesn't.
Why are we not allowed to do this for ourselves? Why are a pro-Christian (Catholic - & in John Howard's context - Protestant faction) hijacking my right to kill myself in a sane, peaceful & calm way, & with legal constraints in place as well, if I wish to do so?
If we as a society accept that we have total rights over what happens with our body, then why are we legally prevented, in this country, from ending our lives if we wish?
Even half a century ago (& many centuries before then) suicides were prevented from being buried in hallowed ground (ie. an agreed religiously-ordained community cemetery) as suicide was thought to be an act against God. I'm sure those who were brought up as Catholics could bring up even more Gothic reasons for this - I'll leave it up to them.
If I want to leave this planet, & go on to my next lifetime, why should some bunch of religious loonies have the right to dictate to me what I want to do?

Dutchie said...

Erm Unda, I think you mean that "it'd be a sad day indeed if we prevented Mr. Nitsche from speaking in a public venue"? Mr. Coyle is the guy that has the opposing camp (right to life), which of course has every right to speak too.

Jude Johnston said...

Having looked after my Mother during her terminal illness of stomach cancer and melanoma, (a guess as to which one killed her) and with a colostomy from previous bowel cancer, I would sit and hope desparately that her pain and suffering would end. Could I have aided and assisted her to end her life - I can categorically say No I couldn't. As much as I wanted her out of pain there is no way that I could do that. Herein lies the rub, how many of you could? It is all very well talking about it while we are healthy and death seems a long way off. What a huge ask to expect someone you love to end your life for you.

Bryan Law said...

I am forever grateful to the ICU nurse who assisted my father's death (at age 84) by giving him mucho Morphine "to make him comfortable".

He wasn't going to wake up. He had multiple organ failure, and breathed with the aid of a machine. A veteran's gold card ensured the hospital would continue making treatment available for however long the family would tolerate it.

Once the immediate family had gathered from various parts of country, we made our wishes known, and the medical staff assented.

The only fly in the ointment is that a relatively junior medical worker got to do the deed in a less than transparent way, and exposed herself to some personal risk in doing so.

An open system with checks and balances would be better. I've heard Dr Nitsche talk about Seconal, and how to get it. I'm hoping that if required, I too will find sympathetic medical staff when the time comes. If not, I know what to do.

Jude Johnston said...

Bryan, you are assuming that you will be in a position to administer Seconal. Do you then gather your loved ones around you, on a chosen date and time, tell them you love them, hold them in your arms and look in their eyes while you end your life. Not an easy call methinks.

Unknown said...

thanks dutchie, but i meant what i said. i am trying to highlight the hypocrisy involved here: right to lifers and sundry other zealots demand the right to put their case in public venues(and i might add engage in thuggery - vide their activities in the recent RU 486 debate)but they want to prevent people like mr nitschke from putting his case. the only people likely to cause problems at today's meeting are the right to life goon squads.