Analysing Select Committee submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill is no match for 20 years of research on New Zealanders' support for the choice of assisted dying, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Reputable polling companies have time and time again found the vast majority of New Zealanders support assisted dying and welcome a change to our laws. A review of 20 years' research into New Zealander’s attitudes to assisted dying by the University of Otago found that 68 per cent support change.”
This chart from the Young study shows the vast difference between support running consistently at around 70 per cent, opposition at around 20 per cent, and undecideds at around 10 per cent in 17 polls taken since 2002. These polls were taken by reputable firms such as Colmar Brunton and Reid Research, which most recently found 75 and 71 per cent support, respectively.
“The Care Alliance have done a lot of work, but appear to have misconceived the purpose of Select Committee submissions as a form of de facto referendum when the real purpose is to provide evidence to parliament to improve legislation. This misconception may explain why there are so many submissions opposed. Organisations such as the Catholic Church have written to their supporters imploring them to submit on the bill.
The Care Alliance are at pains to stress that the opposition to the bill was not, in the main, religiously motivated. However the church asked people not to use religious language in their submissions and its Bishops have defended the practice.
These mismatches between select committee submissions on an issue and public opinion are not new. The Committee considering the issue of civil unions found over 83 per cent of submissions were opposed to a law change at a time when the majority of New Zealanders were in favour of liberalisation. MPs understood this and voted civil unions into law.
“It is a shame that the Select Committee process has been misused in this way, emphasising the quantity of submissions over their quality. After listening to submitters and analysing the information presented by hundreds of submissions against international evidence, I released a sponsor’s report of my findings and recommendations for improving the Bill. This report recommends changes to the bill based on helpful feedback on the bill, and can be read here.