OPINION: Referendum needed on End of Life Choice Bill

Some issues are too big to be determined by politicians alone and voluntary euthanasia is one of them. Photo Parliament NZ

The End of Life Choice Bill will soon come up for its second reading in Parliament and a vote will then be held on whether it proceeds to the next stage of the legislative process.

This is the law change that would allow for voluntary euthanasia.

The feedback I have received on the Bill has been mixed and I have heard strong arguments from people on both sides of the debate.

As a local MP, I strive to support greater personal freedom and choice for our community. These freedoms should not be without limitation however and safeguards are vital when laws are liberalised.

The Bill is not yet in a shape where it could be passed. Further amendments are needed to improve it and address shortcomings that have been identified. Parliament should look at the available options to improve the Bill before taking a final vote.

In 2016, I surveyed my electorate on this matter and received 3599 responses, with 2516 in favour. That’s 70 per cent support from that survey. This result is close to opinion polls that have been published recently, although submissions to the select committee were heavily opposed.

A proposal for a referendum to be held on the matter has been put forward. I intend to support there being a referendum so New Zealanders have the final say on this complex issue.

Some issues are too big to be determined by politicians alone and this is one of them.

Another that is going up for a referendum is the issue of personal and recreational use of cannabis.

I can see merit in medicinal use of cannabis where someone has a demonstrable health need. I am not convinced the country is yet ready to see the drug be legalised entirely, however I may be proved wrong when New Zealanders have their say at the ballot box.

On a final note, thank you to everyone who has provided feedback on my podcast ‘JLR Unfiltered’. You can listen to it online by searching for ‘JLR Unfiltered’ in the Apple iTunes Store, or by going to www.jamileeross.podbean.com.

  • Jami-Lee Ross

MP for Botany