Recently, (Tuesday 18th December) the ABC’s National Current Affairs program, The 7:30 Report, ran a story on Dr. Nitschke and his promotion of nitrogen for suicide.
For the first time, he admitted that he imports the nitrogen canisters from China and the report said that he did so through the company, Max Dog Brewing which is wholly owned by Dr. Nitschke through another company, Northern Analytics P/L.
In the report, Nitschke suggests that brewing is the reason for the imports of nitrogen and that people might choose to use it for other purposes as well. The ABC seem to have swallowed that assertion uncritically.
It’s really hard to take this seriously; as is the image of Nitschke sitting in the back of a van in a North Sydney car park awaiting his customers.
Nitrogen is used in some brewing processes, certainly; but most home brewers would not use this method of providing the bubbles in their favourite brew. But why the need for a front company and why the need for the brewing facade?
Perhaps Australian Customs Laws and Regulations might have something to do with it:
Importation of devices and documents relating to suicide
(1) The importation of a device designed or customised to be used by a person to commit suicide, or to be used by a person to assist another person to commit suicide, is prohibited absolutely.
(2) The importation of the following documents is prohibited absolutely:
(a) a document that promotes the use of a device mentioned in subregulation (1);
(b) a document that counsels or incites a person to commit suicide using one of those devices;
(c) a document that instructs a person how to commit suicide using one of those devices.
These Regulations seem open to interpretation, who knows. But what we do know, from Nitschke’s own words is that he has another order of 100 canisters on the way.
How do we know who turns on the tap?
This is the big question here. If there’s a debate in a parliament on euthanasia or assisted suicide MPs have to grapple with the issue of public safety: are the ‘safeguards’ really safe? Does the bill protect people at risk?
But here there’s no such protection, no public scrutiny and no accountability. As I said in the interview, we should really be concerned about Elder Abuse – there’s no way of telling whether or not an abusive relative ordered the kit and turned on the tap. There’s no way of guaranteeing that a troubled teenager didn’t order a kit or ‘borrow’ one from a relative or friend.