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No government bill on euthanasia: PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/06/2015

The government won't be leading the way on changes to the laws around euthanasia.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out a government-backed bill to amend the effect of the Crimes Act because he says it's a conscience issue for MPs.

Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales died from a brain tumour on Friday just hours after her family were advised the High Court had ruled against her bid to choose when she could die.

Justice David Collins said the complex legal, philosophical, moral and clinical issues raised by Ms Seales' proceedings could only be addressed by parliament passing legislation.

In the wake of her death, there are fresh calls for the euthanasia debate to be put back on the political agenda.

But Mr Key says the government won't be sponsoring a bill.

That means the only way parliament will end up debating the issue is if an MP draws up a bill and it's drawn from the member's ballot.

"There will be no government-sponsored bill for the very reason it's a conscience issue and the process needs to reflect that," Mr Key told reporters on Monday.

ACT leader David Seymour is drafting a bill.

Mr Key is open to a select committee inquiry on the right to die issue, but said while this would facilitate a public debate, "it would not satisfy Lecretia's ultimate wish for the law to be changed".

A petition calling for a select committee inquiry is likely to be presented to parliament later this month.

Two previous member's bills to legalise euthanasia have failed.

Former NZ First MP Peter Brown's 2003 death with dignity bill didn't get past its first reading with MPs voting it down 60 to 58.

An earlier bill backed by then-National MP Michael Laws failed in 1995.


* An MP would need to draft a bill

* The bill would go into the members' bills ballot - there are around 70 bills in the ballot at the moment

* The bill would need to be drawn from the ballot. One or two bills are drawn every so often at random and there's no guarantee it would get drawn

* If it does, the bill would need to pass its first reading in parliament to progress any further through the legislative process.

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