Friday, 28 June 2019

28 June 2019


Until now, I’ve not commented much publicly on the End of Life Choice Bill because my views are quite personal. But I want to acknowledge the tenacity and courage of David Seymour for bringing this debate to our Parliament. David is one of the very few politicians who went into Parliament to make a difference.

I’ve been acquainted with this Bill since it was first raised with the ACT Board in 2015. My initial reaction was one of apprehension. I had my reservations, particularly around abuse. Over time, most of my questions have been adequately addressed. There are improvements that can be made to this Bill, and that is what the parliamentary process is for. I am ticked off, though, that the select committee was not able to agree to meaningful amendments to the Bill after months of submissions and public hearings.

I don’t default to some of the well-worn positions of watching a loved one die in agony or comparing the status quo to the way we treat animals. I have in fact watched two siblings die of cancer, and helped nurse one to the very end. Thankfully, neither of them begged to be put out of their misery, but one of them was very interested in the Bill, and we discussed it. It was an enlightening conversation, often in the middle of the night, as sleep denied both of us at that time, if only because he was inquisitive about how it would work in practice, not because he had an interest in seeing it enacted for himself. 

Palliative care in my brother’s case worked well. His discomfort was never bad enough to plead for release. But rather than say “palliative care doesn’t work for everyone”, I say palliative care includes having some say and control over the way you go. In fact, having the choice may have a palliative effect in itself. There is no mutual exclusivity.

End of Life Choice is the first time I have ever made a submission on legislation.

I’m supportive. I guess that puts me in the approximately 75 per cent of the public who are, as various independent polls have shown. I know that even among ACT supporters, there are mixed views, but expect these to be of a similar proportion. Anyone who says they can’t support ACT because of this Bill will need to look for another political party. As we’ve seen from the vote on the second reading this week, all parties represented in Parliament likely have similar levels of support or non-support among their membership.

I congratulate David on doing the right thing. The End of Life Choice Bill is considered, consultative lawmaking on the most important social policy of this decade.


Will a Cabinet reshuffle and the appointment of five ministers fix the housing crisis? How many of these Cabinet Ministers have actually built a house?

I just love hearing from people who work in the real world.

Mr Horncastle said he refused to be part of the KiwiBuild programme because he knew it would be slow-going and the private sector is always more efficient.


A good article in Stuff today with contributions from David Seymour and Andrew Little on opposite sides of the free speech debate.

“But fair-minded Kiwis don't need to wait for a Government review. We can all take responsibility for stopping the spread of discrimination in our communities.” – Andrew Little

You’re quite right, Andrew. We can take responsibility for the consequences of what we say, and call others out for what they say if we don’t agree with them. Better to know some ideas, abhorrent as we might find them, exist, and debate them, rather than have those discussions move into underground echo-chambers that only amplify and reinforce the message for small groups of extremists. Hate speech laws won’t make us safer.

“If there are people with objectionable views out there, we're much better off letting them say what they think. We can't object to their views otherwise. All our progress as a nation has come from open discussion, and our worst failures have come from suppression.” – David Seymour


Do people who buy fast food really care about its nutritional content? As usual, there will always be those who think “there oughta be a law!”, especially lawyers! Sounds like the perfect excuse for some more red tape to put food manufacturers to more expense.

So a small proportion of pizza eaters are horrified to find they might have actually eaten some vegetables, but for most part they are unfazed. Meat substitutes have been around for a long time and while they’re not my cup of tea, I have no beef with them either. At the risk of going into further puns about sausages, I’ll quit now. 

Beth Houlbrooke

Deputy Leader / Vice President