Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Government Accountability, Free Speech and Voluntary Euthanasia

Is the Internet undermining our institutions of accountability or just highlighting how irrelevant they have become? Recently the South Australian Parliament took the unprecedented step of erasing from the official Hansard record a speech by Democrat Sandra Kanck on euthanasia where she outlined ways people have taken their own lives. The speech was described by Premier Mike Rann as “shameful” as it could encourage people to take their own lives, a line supported by the federal Suicide Material Related Offences Act and Sane Australia. Kanck defended her actions as being in the best interests of “fundamental human rights – the right to free speech and the right to die with dignity” with the ban undermining the institution of parliamentary privilege. Of course, the speech has attracted attention all over the Net, with an NZ website posting the speech in full, and the ban has only drawn more attention to its contents.

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