8 Jun 2015

Euthanasia select committee push

11:45 pm on 8 June 2015

A select committee inquiry into whether euthanasia should be legalised is looking more likely after the Prime Minister backed the idea.

Lecretia Seales

Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales argued a ban on assisted dying contravened her human rights. Photo: FACEBOOK

John Key has said he would support an inquiry but said the Government had no intention of actively promoting a law change at this stage.

There was still fierce opposition among both MPs and the public to any move to change the law, he warned.

Debate on the issue was reignited by the case of Wellington woman Lecretia Seales, who was suffering from brain cancer and died last week.

Jacqui Dean

Jacqui Dean Photo: Supplied

Chair of the Justice and Electoral committee Jacqui Dean said she would be happy to consider an inquiry.

When asked about her personal view on the subject, Ms Dean said she wanted to carefully consider the issue and not make a snap judgement.

But her deputy on the committee National List MP Jono Naylor was less reticent about his views on the matter.

"I am pretty staunch in the idea that I don't think there is really any place for euthanasia of any kind.

"I'm comfortable that in New Zealand our medical practices are sufficient to ensure that people can die without pain and therefore I wouldn't see the need to introduce euthanasia of any kind."

National MP Jono Naylor.

National MP Jono Naylor. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Green Party MP David Clendon, who is the party's spokesperson for justice, said a select committee would be a better avenue than a bill.

"We know this is a very highly charged and emotive debate for many people.

"There are ethical, legal, medical issues involved and so a select committee inquiry would seem the best mechanism available to us - to have that conversation nationally."

New Zealand First spokesperson for justice Denis O'Rourke gave no indication of his personal thoughts on the subject.

But he said his party would prefer a referendum.

Louise Upston

Louise Upston Photo: SUPPLIED

"On all conscience issues of this kind we want the public to decide by way of a referendum. It's not, we believe, up to individual parliamentarians to make this decision."

National MP Louise Upston, who is also a member of the Justice and Electoral Committee, said she wanted to consider all the information available before making up her mind.

But she said a select committee inquiry was a good way to go about it.

Meanwhile the Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway signalled he planned to table a petition in Parliament at the end of the month asking for a full select committee inquiry.