21 May 2018

Mass of submissions delay euthanasia bill deadline

8:08 pm on 21 May 2018

Parliament has extended the period for submissions on a euthanasia bill by six months, till March next year.

Chair of the Justice Select Committee and Labour MP Raymond Huo.

The Justice Select Committee has received 35,000 submissions on Act leader David Seymour's End Of Life Choice bill. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The Justice Select Committee has received 35,000 submissions on Act leader David Seymour's End Of Life Choice bill, which would allow people with a terminal illness the option of assisted dying.

A tenth of those who made submissions wanted to present their views in person to MPs on the committee, which will conduct regional hearings around the country.

The committee's chair Labour Party member Raymond Huo said the hearings would enable as many individuals and community organisations as possible to be heard.

"The Justice Committee intends to hear from all submitters who have asked to be heard," Mr Huo said.

"Hearing evidence in the regions will help ensure that as many individuals and community organisations as possible can present their views and that the committee take account of all of the submissions in an open-minded and balanced way," he said.

Justice Committee deputy chair Maggie Barry said the number of submissions signalled the importance of conducting hearings.

"The very large number of carefully considered individual submissions reveals just how seriously New Zealanders take the potential change of law to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide," she said.

"The committee could not have done the submitters justice if we had refused to travel or hear everyone who asked to be heard. It was therefore essential we had the six-month extension to allow us to give due consideration to the enormous task ahead of us."

The committee started public hearings in Wellington today.

Hearings will be advertised on the Parliament website.

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