Kia Ora Whanganui,
Democracy is sometimes referred to as the "rule of the majority". It is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force, other than that of the masses and majority controls what occurs and its outcomes. The uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all forces struggle repeatedly for the realization of their interests. - Wikipedia
Another important aspect of democracy is to adhere to the expression of the majority. Engaging in robust debate with an ability to examine and critique the issue from as a diverse a basis as possible without bias, in the attempt to make a fully informed decision is a critical and taxing task and skill. Occasionally there is a Bill that comes before Parliament that goes to a conscience or free vote. This is where politicians are allowed to vote according to their own personal conscience rather than according to an official line set down by their political party. This is where the ability to examine ideas comes to into play, as conscience votes are usually and mostly on issues fraught with moral and ethical complexities.
The End of Life Choice Bill currently before Parliament is one of the conscience vote bills introduced in this 52nd Parliament. The media recorded how each MP voted - whether to proceed the bill to first reading or to dismiss it. Media perched in the Press gallery peering down on us from high, watched as we walked to what door ‘nay’ or ‘aye’ recording literally as we voted with our feet. I remember well the measure of vulnerability at the intensity of the public exposure and scrutiny.
There is much public interest and dissension on this life-end “choice” issue. Our Parliamentary process invites public submission on bills and the Select Committee commenced hearing the 35,000+ submissions and some 3900 wishing to speak to their submissions. 21 May. This is a record amount – the total number of submissions across all Bills in the last (51st) Parliament was 45,557.
This number has extended the hearing dates out to early 2019, at which stage the Select Committee will return the bill to the House for a 2nd reading with proposals to amend or not
I voted for the bill to go to Select Committee with the clear view that the bill requires amendment to enshrine and ensure the vulnerable and the vulnerabilities have adequate and independent scrutiny, protections and safeguards more than what is currently scripted in the bill.
Next week in Whanganui at Central Baptist Church on Wicksteed Street, I’m hosting a public meeting about the End of Life Choice Bill. Two politicians with opposing views - David Seymour (Leader of ACT Party) author of the Bill, and Hon Maggie Barry, National Spokesperson for Seniors, Veterans and Associate Spokesperson for Health, author of the Access to Palliative Care Bill a private members bill currently in the members’ ballot waiting to be drawn.
I am interested to listen and learn the thinking and thoughts of those who choose to attend. It is indeed a most serious matter - the choice of life or death.