News National Kennett: Nitschke hurts cause

Kennett: Nitschke hurts cause

jeff kennett
Former Liberal Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has backed a Liberal figure's daughter. Photo: AAP
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Jeff Kennett, the chairman of Beyondblue and a supporter of euthanasia for the terminally ill, says Dr Philip Nitschke has damaged his own cause.

Mr Kennett on Thursday welcomed the decision by the Medical Board of Australia to suspend the euthanasia campaigner over his links to a man who had sought advice about how to take his own life.

· Nitschke’s license suspended

The board on Wednesday night used its emergency powers to suspend Dr Nitschke after ruling that he posed “a serious risk to the health and safety of the public”.

“I welcome this very much indeed and I hope it stands for a long time, and I say that being a supporter of euthanasia for terminally ill under controlled circumstances,” Mr Kennett said.

“But Philip Nitschke is still this morning trying to justify what he’s doing on the right of every individual to decide when they exit this world.”

Mr Kennett said BeyondBlue and other organisations, as well as various governments, were doing a lot of work to reduce suicide rates, adding that 2535 had taken their lives in 2012, double the road toll.

“I think he wanted a debate to try and legitimise the right of individuals to take their lives whenever they wished,” he said.

“We cannot allow the debate to start that it’s alright for a 16-year-old, or a 45-year-old, simply because they’re having an off day, to attempt to take their own life.

“It is not acceptable.”

The former premier of Victoria said Dr Nitschke had damaged his own cause.

“I think he’s put his cause back, that is for a very properly defined legislative framework where people who are terminally ill, under certain circumstances when all their dignity has left them, have the right to exit this world,” Mr Kennett said.

“I think he’s done that a lot of damage.”

The ruling against Dr Nitschke, which came into effect at midnight, follows the suicide of Perth man Nigel Brayley, who committed suicide in May after communicating with Dr Nitschke.

Dr Nitschke has confirmed that Mr Brayley, 45, who died in May after taking euthanasia drug Nembutal, attended an Exit International workshop in Perth in February and purchased the banned Peaceful Pill eHandbook.

A spokeswoman for the board has confirmed to AAP that the suspension, which prevents Dr Nitschke from practice anywhere in Australia, is an interim measure pending the outcome of an inquiry.

The ruling was made under a section of the law that “enables the board to limit a practitioner’s registration in some way to keep the public safe”.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.