The Select Committee – Democracy or Farce?

Ann David says that politicians running the select committee on the End of Life Choice Bill are really earning their dough!

A mammoth task

Was ever a select committee tried and tested as sorely as the Justice Select Committee that is now hearing submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill in 2018?

They have some 3,500 face-to-face hearings to get through, nationwide.

This must be accomplished by September.

And that’s in addition to the 35,000 written submission they must read and digest by the same deadline.

MPs earn their dough!

If ever you questioned the salaries paid to our politicians, a single day in one of the committee rooms would dispel your resentments.  They earn their dough!

I spent Monday 23 July at Bowen House in Committee Room 2 where Ginny Andersen (Labour) and Chris Bishop (National) were on duty for the day.   Oral presentation time was 5 minutes per submitter.  By 3pm, the schedule was running almost an hour overtime, making an unbroken 9-hour day for the MPs, a day of intense concentration, always in the public eye.

Nonsense taken at face value

The good news is that the Parliamentarians were unfailingly courteous and unruffled.  They thanked each submitter for his/her contribution and they looked as though they meant it every time.

The bad news is that a great deal of codswallop is dished up in these sessions without any requirement whatsoever for evidence or substantiation.   The MPs accepted all claims presented to them at face value without challenging or contesting them even though some were laughably fanciful.

I can understand the need to avoid challenge in the interests of moving the process along, but it is a great pity because truth is the collateral damage of expediency.   Glaring inaccuracies can be stated, reported by the media as facts and then absorbed by the public as such.  

Complacency endangers assisted dying legalisation

On an issue such as voluntary euthanasia, public opinion is critical and misinformation becomes dangerous especially if this issue goes to a binding referendum.

Those opposed were at least 80% of the submitters.   Yet polls tell us that upwards of 70% of New Zealanders want assisted dying legalised.  Where were the 70%?  Missing in action at Parliament, that’s for sure.

Last chance to get it right

But there’s still a chance to get it right so that the majority viewpoint wins the day.  Those who want assisted dying/voluntary euthanasia legalised should write to their MP right now and tell them so.  You know who they are:

Write with knowledge

To read the End of Life Choice Bill, go to www.yestodignity.org.nz  or to www.parliament.nz

No, the Justice Committee does not accept everything at face value without challenging or contesting claims.

When time permits, MPs do challenge claims and request more information from submitters for clarification.

There are officials present tasked with validating research and claims. At the end of each session the MPs meet with these officials to make specific information requests.

The polls use euphemisms, such as ‘assisted dying’, which could mean different things to different people. I have heard and read plenty of submissions in which a person confused ‘assisted dying’ with end of life choices that are legal such as turning off life support, making a ‘do-not’resuscitate’ request or refusing medical treatment.

I support what Ann David says. Even if the politicians on duty know that what the submitters are saying is not the truth about the Bill, they cannot miss the general tenor of folk being agin’ it. So the folk who are for it need to step up and say so – not to each other, but to the politicians. The politicians are the ones who will vote yes, or no, when the day comes, and that’s not many months away.

dear editors,

Wonderful and timely update, great writing. Thanks so much.

Just one remark: the blonde Barbie seems out of place, can you eliminate her from the story, please?
Aroha for All!. Alida Van der Velde.

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