Australia Euthanasia Advocate Moving Operations to New Zealand

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 28, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Euthanasia Advocate Moving Operations to New Zealand

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 28, 2005

Sydney, Australia ( — An international euthanasia campaigner based in Australia says he plans to move his base of operations to New Zealand. Philip Nitschke will now head up his efforts at New Zealand’s Voluntary Euthanasia Society in Auckland.

From there, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, he plans to hold workshops in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington, the largest cities in New Zealand.

Nitschke said yesterday he will hold "peaceful pill" workshops similar to one he held in New South Wales last month teaching people how to create a deadly cocktail to kill themselves.

The move comes because some of his activities may soon be made illegal in Australia. The island nation will soon enact a law on January 6 that would make promoting euthanasia by telephone or the Internet illegal.

"The climate is a lot less oppressive in New Zealand," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. Nitschke said he plans to fly to New Zealand on December 31.

Nitschke said a warning will appear on his Australian euthanasia web site starting January 6th saying that those access the site in Australia run the risk of being prosecuted, though he thinks no one will face it. He said it will be difficult for Australia lawmakers to target him if he moves his base of operations to neighboring New Zealand.

"[But] that’s not going to be easy if we’re operating out of New Zealand," he said. "We don’t wish to walk into what seems to be a clear trap being set here [in Australia]."

However, euthanasia advocates in New Zealand are shying away from Nitschke.

Lesley Martin, who was jailed for killing her mother in a euthanasia bid, said her Dignity New Zealand group that backs assisted suicide prefers to focus on changing the law rather than instructing people how to kill themselves.

But Nitschke said he didn’t think New Zealand or Australia would legalize assisted suicide any time soon.

"I’m pessimistic about New Zealand or for that matter any other country passing any legislation in the near future," he said. "Most of my members [aged in their 80s] simply say: ‘We haven’t got the time to mess around’."