On the 6th of December voters in the South Australian State seat of Fisher will go to the polls to elect a replacement Member of Parliament following upon the death of long-term incumbent, Dr Bob Such MP.
This seat holds significant interest for phesologists and for both the Labor Government and Liberal opposition. Dr Such was, for many years, an independent MP leaving many to wonder at the true nature of the electorate vis-à-vis the major parties.
This morning on ABC Radio 891 the four candidates considered to be 'in with a chance' in Fisher were interviewed live on air. As this website deals only with the issue of euthanasia, I will deal only with the candidate's comments in this regard.
From the radio transcript:
Nat Cook (Labor): ... I've been a registered nurse for 25 years and previous to that also involved in Health, so I have a very clear position around the dignified passage to death. Euthanasia is a very contentious term and I prefer that any legislation is better framed around the language with a good education package. I am very, very determined to make sure that the advanced directives and good palliative orders are adhered to and families do get an opportunity to discuss that with their loved one when they are at the end stages of their life. (Abraham: So what's your position on people choosing to end their own lives with medical assistance, so dignity for dying, you can use whatever term you want.) Cook: Absolutely, absolutely. (Abraham: Do you support that absolutely?) Cook: I support absolutely the dignity with death passageway, absolutely.
Heidi Harris (Liberal): ... the issue of euthanasia is a very emotive issue and even in my own family our views on this matter are divided. So look I'm not fully settled on the position of euthanasia; it's a conscience vote in the Parliament and it really depends on the legislation that's presented before the House. (Abraham: And what's your conscience telling you?) Harris: Well you know, as I said, I'm not fully settled on the position. (Abraham: Okay, so you don't have a position?) Harris: And I'll consult with the community on that matter.
Malwina Wyra (Greens): ... so the Greens have been a long standing advocate for voluntary euthanasia and most importantly dying with dignity ... you can actually see that particularly on the federal level where we've been looking into inquiries on how we can sort of create the best solution for people who are in this unfortunate circumstance so that they can have dignity in their final moments so that we can have voluntary euthanasia.
Daniel Woodyatt (Independent endorsed by Bob Such's wife, Lyn): I'm strongly for representative government ... we need to realise on these issues that we can't have parties or a position someone takes as an elected member to block the will of the people in State Parliament. So what needs to happen on this issue is that we need to have a very public discussion; we need Members of Parliament going back to their electorate to gauge what the real view is because people who are for this legislation always say that 'everyone thinks like me' and people who are against it always say.. (Abraham: And what's ... your personal? See Bob Such.. you claim, I think you all claim that in one level or another you're going to be able to fill Bob Such's shoes. Daniel ... you've got the endorsement of his wife, Lyn. This was an issue very close to Bob's heart.) Woodyatt: True. (Bevan: So what's your position on euthanasia?) Woodyatt: So my position is that I think that the process has to be very stringent. So the argument used against any kind of right to die legislation is ... it's a thin edge of the wedge argument. Six year olds are going to end up being able to kill themselves willy-nilly ... Cook: Oh that's not.. Wyra: That's not quite accurate. Woodyatt: No, but.. no, no, no but.. Cook: Not six year olds. Woodyatt: No, that's right, but what I'm saying is that people start to get hysteria about this legislation, but what Bob proposed was a very rigid board that would meet; you would have to have multiple psychological assessments. (Abraham: And you support that?) Woodyatt: And I would support that ... I think people who hold a view against this, when they have to deal with a family member going through intense pain often change their view because compassion needs to be centre of this ... compassionate and choice. (Bevan: But you support the euthanasia model proposed by Bob Such?) Woodyatt: I will put the bill before Parliament but unless the Labor Party and some of the Liberal Party are with you there's nothing I can do to put that bill through.
In summary, not too much to choose from here, although Heidi Harris should perhaps be given the benefit of the doubt.
In total there are eight candidates; the other four stand no real chance of success.
While HOPE does not endorse any particular candidate or political party, on the issue of euthanasia Heidi Harris is, at the very least, the least-worst option.