Dr Philip Nitschke, head of Exit International, is in Hobart to coincide with the debate on Premier Giddings and Nick McKim MP's euthanasia and assisted suicide bill. he is also on a national speaking tour promoting his new biography.
Dr Nitschke gave an interview on local ABC Radio this morning. He was asked at one point by the presenter a question about the possibility of people being pressured into asking for euthanasia. Candid, as he often is, Dr Nitschke after saying the question was 'hard to answer' admitted: 'Can it happen? Of course'.
He then went on to say that he thought the Giddings/McKim legislation was 'very safe' and 'conservative', as it needs to be.' This is something that I would dispute, strongly, but it is, after all, his opinion. He then went on to say, in reference to the legislation, that, 'It might change in the future as people become comfortable with the change.'
Think what you may of Dr Nitschke, he is often refreshingly honest in his commentary. Again, we can take this as opinion, but it does point directly to what the Opposition Leader, Will Hodgeman MP said in his speech yesterday about 'slippery slopes, bracket creep and incremental extension.' MPs know full well that once a bill has been passed, regardless of their intent in supporting it as expressed in the debate, it can progress through amendment bills to places well beyond the original intent. That's just how it is.
The issue of 'Death Tourism' played out in a number of comments during debate yesterday and, as one might expect, Dr Nitschke was mentioned. I think it was Jacquie Petrusma MP who mentioned the possibility of a 'Bed and Breakfast' facility.
Ms Giddings has played down the possibility but the possibility remains. Dr Nitschke confirmed this in his interview adding that he expected some of his patients to move to Tasmania if the bill passes.