Letters to
the editor

Syme wrong on euthanasia

‘‘Daring the law for right to die’’ (Martin McKenzie-Murray, May 3-9) is a challenge to the rule of law in a democratic society. Rodney Syme’s public admission of suicide abetment, if left unchallenged, would set a dangerous precedent. Law breaking should not be used as a means to law reform. Syme went to great lengths to describe the physical pain of Steve Guest, in particular his “psychological and existential suffering”. However, Palliative Care Australia tells us that “not everyone with a terminal illness will experience pain”. In fact, “most pain can be relieved”. Unlike euthanasia, palliative care does not abandon patients by administering a lethal injection. This is reassuring given the recent, agonising deaths of two US inmates – a wake-up call to the “peaceful death” assumption. Euthanasia is an extremely violent act and an injustice by doctors against their patients’ dignity. Syme’s remark that “it’s the bad doctors who aren’t interested in [euthanasia]” contradicts reality.

– Clara Curtis, Tuggeranong, ACT

Legalising assisted dying the only way

The most valuable tool in palliative care is the priceless gift of peace of mind. Once Steve Guest had received Nembutal, he was in charge: “It rejuvenated him ... for a fortnight a new man emerged as he found a purpose. His body language changed, whereas before he was crushed” (May 3-9). It is widely known that many doctors already provide drugs to terminally alive people with the deliberate intention of hastening death.

In doing so they relieve the terrible suffering of the patient, as well as their family. By legalising medically assisted dying, this practice would be regulated, and compassionate doctors would not have to fear prosecution. Dr Syme’s courageous public announcement of his involvement may contribute to the hastening of pro-euthanasia laws. For that, the great majority of Australians will be grateful. We trust that commonsense and humanity will prevail.

– Joan Croll, Drummoyne, NSW

Better economy and better society

Thank you for the editorial “PPL will make a mockery of the budget” and Clem Bastow’s timely article “Silent Resignation”, April 26-May 2. Budgets should not just be about savings or returning budgets to surplus but prioritising, considering impacts, being wise, informed and fair. The foreshadowed budget appears, in the main, to be aimed at those who can least afford it, the vulnerable or disadvantaged. Talk about the pain being evenly spread in this budget is not borne out by what is foreshadowed – e.g., a paid parental leave scheme at a cost of $7 billion, $12 billion-$24 billion on aircraft, and so on. Tax concessions are expensive but not on the table. The Commission of Audit looks through a narrow lens of cutting expenditure without understanding the empirical evidence and evaluations of positive impacts of many community-based programs and research institutions that help us understand what is happening so we can build informed policy. Real fiscal responsibility would have us discussing tax reform that increases taxes so we can afford services for the community, seek innovation and a better society, not just a better economy.

– Liz Curran, Melbourne, Vic

Co-payments to hit health

Joe Hockey’s proposed Medicare and pharmaceutical co-payment will start to bring those who are vulnerable in terms of their health on the trajectory of America’s poor. In New York last Christmas, I was shocked to see the numbers of working Americans in extremely poor health. Our Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is the envy of the developed world. Its current structure is the major reason many Australians remain well. As a nurse working in a public hospital, I shudder to imagine the outcome of this proposal. Mr Hockey, I intend to convey these concerns to you at the ballot box.

– Mary Keating, Flemington, Vic

Entitlement is alive and well

So, the age of entitlement is over, Joe Hockey tells us. Wrong. It’s just moved sharply to the right: you know, towards where the wealthy, conservative mates of Abbott hang out, the private clubs, the very leafy suburbs. The sense of entitlement – to money, power, government – that is nurtured from birth into the likes of Abbott and his mates is now grossly apparent in every decision his government makes and in every appointment to yet another “review” that he orders – the kind of review where the outcome is pretty much a lay down misère. As an adoptive Tasmanian, it has always been an embarrassment to me that Eric Abetz hails from down there. His voice reflects a politician so far to the right he’d be a joke if he weren’t so influential. But it seems the rest of the Liberal Party is fast catching up with him. It’s their ight of course. They’re entitled to do as they wish.

 – Esmé Murphy, Chelsea, Vic

What’s the big deal?

The media has flooded the public with advice that the budget is in crisis, and there is a desperate need to either increase taxes or cut expenditure. I do not understand. Didn’t the prime minister recently do a tour of our neighbouring countries and drop the import duty into Australia on a vast range of products? For Japan, the import duty for Japanese-made cars was cut to duty-free, from 5 per cent. In 2011 this import duty drew an income of $350 million. We didn’t need it a few weeks ago. What has changed?

 – Rod Julian, Glenbrook, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 10, 2014.

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