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Govt won't put forward euthanasia bill: PM

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/11/2016

No amount of public support for euthanasia will prompt the National government to put forward legislation to allow medically assisted dying, Prime Minister John Key says.

But if a member's bill were to be drawn on the issue it's highly likely he and more than half the National caucus would support it, he says.

Parliament's health select committee is currently hearing more than 1800 submissions to gauge public opinion on the issue.

"There's such a wide range of views within both the government and I think across the parliament that there's no question that people want to potentially have a debate about that, there's no question that the law might change over time but ultimately you're dealing with a really sensitive issue and I think the process is best handled through a member's bill," Mr Key said on Tuesday.

National MPs would "definitely" be granted a conscience vote on the issue, he said.

Labour leader Andrew Little says he is not opposed to a Labour government putting forward legislation, but it would not be a priority.

He would support a member's bill provided it offered the same safeguards as those put forward by former Labour MP Maryan Street in her End of Life Choices Bill, but has not asked his caucus their views on the topic because it's a conscience issue.

ACT leader David Seymour, who has a private member's bill to legalise euthanasia in the ballot, said Mr Little needed to make it clear now if he'd put forward legislation in government, or if a member's bill would be the only way forward.

He said it was a good sign that Mr Key supported medically assisted dying and that research into the views of other MPs indicated his bill would have a "pretty decent majority in the House".

"(Mr Key) knows that two thirds to three quarters of New Zealand are in favour of a law change. What frustrates me is around a quarter to a half of my parliamentary colleagues haven't figured that out and I just wish they'd go back and talk to their electorates and start voting in line with the people they represent," he said.

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