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Canberra Today 1°/7° | Monday, October 25, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Is border hopping the right way to die with dignity?

Letter writer and dying-with-dignity campaigner GREG CORNWELL is worried about the successful local legislative outcome if we decide to create our own law on voluntary assisted dying.

DEBATE has begun in the House of Representatives to repeal the Andrews’ Bill of 1997, which prevented the NT and the ACT from legislating on voluntary assisted dying.

Interestingly, at that time such legislation might have been defeated here but we were not given the opportunity to find out. The door was slammed on us.

Much has changed over these 24 years with an estimated 80 per cent of those polled across Australia – a remarkably consistent figure – supporting reform.

Three states (Victoria, WA and Tasmania) have passed legislation on death with dignity, with Queensland and SA also moving to do so.

Given such strong national support, it is difficult to see NSW holding out much longer and, importantly, the federal parliament denying the territories the right to introduce their own legislation.

Support for lifting of the territorial blockage does not indicate support for voluntary assisted dying, death with dignity, mercy death, to give the procedure some of its names. Parliamentarians still can cast a conscience vote on the actual legislation.

Thus I see no impediment to the introduction of an enabling law into the ACT Legislative Assembly in due course and, I hope, a successful result.

However, this is where my problem begins.

I am a long-term supporter of death with dignity – the phrase I prefer – and wrote a self-published novella “Twilight” in 2019, which garnered 1425 downloads in the publication month when I offered the email version for free.

Despite this proven personal commitment, I am concerned for the successful local legislative outcome if we decide to create our own law. Already individual states have different rules in approach, the granting of permission, even how long a patient has to live before the law can be applied.

This is no reason not to proceed with ACT legislation, but I am haunted by these interstate complications. Do we really need border hopping for the opportunity to die with dignity at one’s preferred time, for example? 

Ideally, I would have liked a national plebiscite similar to same-sex marriage. Given the current state enthusiasm it easily would have passed. 

However, my plea was rejected on the grounds health was a state responsibility, which ignores the question why we have a full-blown Federal Department of Health rather than a section of Finance to dole out the money and DFAT to handle our international responsibilities in this area.

So we are stuck with different laws, again, across the country, which leaves me with the only recourse to ask our ACT legislators to please borrow the law from one of the states, NSW would be convenient, and not add to the plethora of differing regulations which bedevil Australia.

This is too much of an important issue. Indeed, a matter of life and death.

Greg Cornwell, former ACT Legislative Assembly speaker, Yarralumla 

We all have to go sometimes

LETTER writers Sue Dyer (CN May 20) and Christopher Ryan (CN May 27) are right about the need for public toilets in public areas. 

Canberra’s public transport network and public areas need public toilets in every part of Canberra. 

Like the Dickson interchange, the recently approved plan for the much larger development of the Woden Bus Interchange contains no public toilets at all. 

The government has also allowed the number of toilets in the Curtin shopping centre to be reduced from three to just two, from a now-demolished public toilet block to inside a private building.

Whether it is for Canberra’s ageing but active population, or for our youngest new people, or just for everyone – public life requires public toilets. We all have to go sometimes. 

The cost of providing toilets and keeping them clean and maintained is just part of the cost of being a civilised city, and it should not be skimped on. 

Disregarding the needs of people who actually use public spaces and public transport is just bad policy. Having no toilets will reduce active use of spaces and active use of transport.

Chris Johnson, Curtin Residents Association, Curtin

How about solar cells, Penleigh?

I ENJOYED Penleigh Boyd’s non-woke article (“Add it up, light rail isn’t so friendly after all” (CN May 27).

He might like to have a look at how long it takes to recover the energy (pollution and CO2) embedded in solar cells. 

They are made from silicon, aluminium and glass, all smelted and refined at very high temperatures, then transported from China (where most are manufactured).

Keep on raising the hard questions.

Tony Butterfield, via email

Scare the cat, spare the bird

IT is about time cats are contained in the ACT. I love cats but, as I encourage native birds to visit my garden, I don’t have one. 

However, that didn’t stop a large, hairy cat to come into my garden and take a native bird! I saw the cat again in the garden two days later. 

I had placed a wire barrier around the area favoured by birds so the cat was surprised especially when I charged out. I hope it got a good scare, but I’m not confident. 

Responsible cat owners may need help to secure an area for their cats. I don’t want to see another bird taken in my garden. 

Gillian Painter, Macquarie

What about Mrs Gredden?

“An all-RAAF crew of Bomber Command veterans flew (Lancaster bomber G for George) home,” reported

All-RAAF? What about Mrs Gredden, the factory’s delivery pilot who together with Rockhampton boy Sgt Eddie Hudson (who piloted G on her final operations over Europe), brought her to Australia and flew her around on the fund-raising tour? 

I am 100 per cent sure about that because my father, who was in charge of the RAAF contingent in Rocky on the day, arranged for me to climb into the fuselage and sit in the left-hand seat up front for a while. Oh bliss, oh rapture, wait until I tell the kids at school about this!

How am I certain about Mrs Gredden? Like any boy of single-digit age, I was wearing shorts. As I began to get out of the seat, a gentle but firm hand pressed my right shoulder and me back into it. 

Then the hand lifted the hem of the right leg of the shorts clear of a little lever almost out of sight beside the base of the seat. 

Mrs Gredden was there to save me from unwittingly activating the lever thereby causing the undercarriage to start coming up. At least, that’s what she told me at the time. 

One tends to remember things like this.

Dougal Macdonald, Bungendore

The roar was amazing

WHEN I was a young student at Murrurundi Public School we were all

assembled in the playground to see G for George fly over. 

The roar was amazing and still vivid in my memory. It flew right up the main street and was so low that the “G” was clearly visible on the side of its fuselage. Wow!

Gordon Worrall, Torrens

Too many half truths

I HAVE read “The Canberra Times” for over 40 years and, since the digital age, continue to check the local and overseas news plus community views and interests. 

What I find disappointing is since the buying and selling of media outlets over the years the standard of news has become half-truths and sensational. 

The views of a lot of the journalists (in my opinion) have become left wing and out of touch with the people of the ACT.

So, I say to myself when looking at the masthead of “The Canberra Times”, do they really believe in “To Serve the National City” and “the journalism you trust” or what was once true is now a distant memory because of the radicals creeping into media society to push their own agenda?

Any editor or journalist of a news organisation should have the nous to play a fair game and report both sides of a story without bias and favour and not just their personal views, which most times favour left-wing ideology, and try to influence a free-thinking society.

Errol Good, Macgregor

When will they ever learn?

THE quickest and cheapest way to reduce traffic congestion and traffic emissions is to put up T2 or T3 signs that give priority to all vehicles that carry passengers.

When two friends or relatives travel together in a car, they cause half the traffic congestion of two people driving two cars. They also cause less emissions per person than the average Canberra bus.

Twenty years ago 63 per cent of Canberra commuters drove cars all the way to work, 8 per cent travelled only as car passengers, 5 per cent travelled only by public transport, 4 per cent walked and 2 per cent cycled.

The government set targets for increased walking, cycling and public transport.

The government spent a billion dollars on public transport subsidies, a similar amount on road subsidies, about $50 million on walking and cycling, and a negligible amount to encourage car drivers to become car passengers.

By 2016 the combined mode shares of walking, cycling and public transport increased to 15 per cent, car passengers fell to 6 per cent and car drivers increased to 67 per cent. The end result was more traffic congestion and more pollution.

The government paradoxically removed incentives for people to travel as car passengers. It closed “3 for free” parking areas, and converted part of Adelaide Avenue’s T2 lane to a general traffic lane.

On May 26, the government launched its new “Make the Move – zero emissions transport” website. The website makes no mention of travelling by car with friends or relatives.

As Peter, Paul and Mary once sang: “When will they ever learn?”

Leon Arundell, Downer

Spin from a ‘devious’ government?

THE Australia Institute recently released its report on whether Australia is really reducing its carbon emissions as claimed by the Morrison government. 

In fact, every emissions sector has been rising since 2005, except for electricity (due to energy efficiency and renewables) and, most strikingly, land use change and forestry. This was substantially due to Queensland banning large-scale land clearing after 2005 and a spike of clearing anticipating the ban which artificially lifted the base figure for emissions. Cynical spin engaged in by this devious government?

Richard Johnston, Kingston 

Realistic role for hydrogen

RE Ray Peck’s letter (“It’s still electricity for cars”, CN May 27). I don’t dispute his broad vision for a future with many electric vehicles, be they conventional EVs or the much more complex (and somewhat less efficient) hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles — FCEVs.

As I see it, battery-electric vehicles, with their enormous torque, on all wheels if needed, are ideal for mining equipment such as ore trucks. Developing solid-state battery technology will increase the range of EVs and batteries will become more affordable as the volume of production increases.

But Mr Peck apparently overlooked the last two paragraphs of my May 13 letter. To recap: The ACT generates so much energy from rooftop solar panels that there is often a surplus. Rather than dumping that surplus this energy could be used to generate hydrogen by electrolysis of water.

The hydrogen (in liquid form) could be used – with minimal injector adjustments – to fuel vehicles with internal combustion engines. Liquid hydrogen is much lighter than petrol or diesel, increasing both the range and carrying capacity of vehicles, and making it a realistic and attractive option for long-distance driving or haulage.

Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin


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