twitter facebook

Peaceful Pill Blog

November 23, 2017

Nitschke says Victorian euthanasia bill ‘unworkable’

Philip Nitschke has described the Victorian government’s voluntary assisted dying bill as the “world’s most unworkable end-of-life law” as he warned the legislation would not satisfy all those seeking ­assisted suicide.

The country’s leading proponent for assisted dying and head of Exit International congratulated the Victorian government for passing the bill through the upper house, but warned the “conservative” bill was behind world standards.

Philip Nitschke The Australian

“It’s a great achievement by the Victorian government, and they should be congratulated for the way they went about it, to break the logjam we spent 22 years fighting,” he said.

“The downside is what they had to do is pass a piece of legislation which is, as they say, the world’s most conservative. It’s one of the world’s most unworkable end-of-life laws, which really won’t ­address the needs of a growing number of people who want control at the end of life.

“It’s not going to change the growing demand by elderly people to have access to their own choice.”

However, Dr Nitschke said the changes would send a clear message to other states to enact similar laws.

“Australian society is changing. But it’s a long way to go to catch up to the rest of the world,’’ he said.

“We led the world in Northern Territory in 1996; we are now 20 years behind these changes and Australia is pretty much back in the dark ages with these pieces of little embryonic steps.’’

The former president of the Victorian arm of the Australian Medical Association Stephen ­Parnis, who has led a public campaign urging the parliament to ­reject the legislation, said he was concerned vulnerable people would not be inadequately protected.

“I suppose not just for me, but the MPs, the doctors, the many community activists who oppose these laws, it’s a profound disappointment. Ultimately we weren’t successful,” he said.

“This is going to become law and we hope that our fears for the system will ultimately be proved wrong. But time will tell.

“I say to the Premier and Minister for Health: it’s incumbent on you to use all of the authority at your disposal to enhance the palliative care as a matter of urgency. Without that sort of system in place, people dying don’t have the choice you want to offer.’’

Victorian AMA head Lorraine Baker said she recognised the changes marked a “significant shift in medical practice in Victoria” that would cause anguish for members of the profession.

“AMA Victoria will now focus on ensuring that the legislation’s implementation process and regulations, in particular of the VAD substance and its controls, are correct, robust and safe for the medical profession and our patients,” she said.

The Australian Christian Lobby last night vowed to fight the scheme, in a campaign targeting lower house MPs ahead of the next state election next November.

August 26, 2017

Our Aged have Earned the Right to Leave Us if They Wish

Philip Nitschke

As the Euthanasia issue heats up again in Victoria, many in the community are wondering aloud what the fuss is all for.

For some, Victoria’s proposed law will represent an historical breakthrough. Since the Northern Territory’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act was quashed by Federal Parliament 20 years ago, Australia has led the world in going backwards on end of life choices. Others like it this way.

As Victoria’s assisted dying law looks increasingly like a sure thing, deep splits along conscience, rather than party, lines are emerging at Spring St. Similar divisions happened back in Darwin in 1996.

The NT law got up by only one vote, that of the sole Aboriginal Member, Wes Lanhupuy.

However, 20 years later the world has moved on and we are talking about a new law. One that the Victorians have boasted is the safest law ever, anywhere in the world.

What I would add is that the law is so ridiculously cautious that very few people will be able to use it. With its 68 safeguards, the law is destined to fail even if it passes. Here’s why.

Firstly, there are not that many dying people who will have the gumption and energy to doctor-shop to get the multiple assessments and signatures required to qualify to use the law, not to mention the psychiatric review.

If you are about to die – and to qualify to use the Victorian law you have to be almost dead to begin with – proving yourself to endless doctors is not how you would want to be spending your last weeks, days and hours.

This tricky part of the proposed law rules out the masses.

Take retired palliative care nurse, Cath Ringwood, from Heidelberg as an example. Cath’s had leukaemia for 20 years and breast cancer for eight. No doctor can give her a clear prognosis of when she will die. Without a clear trajectory, she will not be able to use the law.

And then there are people like my mum.

My mother Gwen died 18 months ago in an Adelaide nursing home. I was not able to get home to Australia from the Netherlands in time to say goodbye to her. This broke my heart and remains the profound regret of my life. Not that Gwen died but that the process of her dying was so drawn out, torturous and unable to be planned.

I say this because Gwen spent six years in that nursing home and hated every minute of it.

She had in fact wanted to ‘check out’ the same year she had to leave her granny flat and move into institutional care. At least, she said she wanted the choice.

As such, my mother spent six years in a ‘home’, with people she didn’t know or like, wishing she was dead. This was torture for her.

One morning when staff asked how she felt, and Gwen replied ‘I wish I was dead’, she was served with an emergency visit from a psychiatrist.

There is no space in a nursing home to tell the truth.

Old ladies like Gwen will never be able to use the Victorian law because they aren’t sick, let alone terminally ill about to die.

Gwen was old, frail and lived without dignity. But this is different from being sick.

The law that is being served up in Victoria is in sharp contrast to my new home of the Netherlands.

Here, the political party D66 has put forward the ‘Completed Life Bill’ in Parliament that would allow anyone who is over 75 years and of sound mind to get help to die.

You don’t have to be sick. You just need to old, and of the considered belief that you have completed your life and now is the time to go.

Your family will be able to be with you. The choice will be yours.

But then the Dutch have had 20 years experience of voluntary euthanasia.  They know there is no slippery slope.

Australia could have been up there with the Dutch in progress had it not been for the likes of Kevin Andrews, Tony Bourke and all those in Canberra who voted out the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.

For my generation – the baby boom generation – we are all getting on. And just as we marched in the 60s to change the world, so we should be now.

Voluntary Euthanasia for all is what the Victorians should be aiming for, not just the privileged few.

This is why the law will fail even if it passes.

This article was first published in The Australian on 28 July 2017

Citation Requirements

To cite this article, please include reference to the author, the title, the date of publication & the citation link below:

July 25, 2017

This is what Government Censorship Looks Like

Have you ever wondered what Government Censorship looks like?

Have you ever wondered how the Australian Government actively works to prevent seriously ill & elderly Australians from accessing end of life information?

MND Sufferer Grant McKenzie of Perth found out this month when his book was confiscated at the border by Australian Customs

With increasingly paralysis Mr McKenzie knows he’s on borrowed time. No ice bucket challenge is going to save him.

What might have given him some peace of mind in his final months of life and some dignity is his death has been denied him by Australian Border Force.

Or, more particularly, by Australia’s pathetic excuse of a Human Rights ‘Special Envoy’, former Attorney General, Philip Ruddock.

As it was Philip Ruddock and Right to Life NSW who, in 2007, appealed the 18+ classification by the Government Censor.

On appeal the book’s classification was changed to RC = Refused Classification

RC is a classification for publications that the Government deems too dangerous for the Australian public to read!

There is no Constitutional right to free speech in Australia.

The treatment of this 70 year old MND Sufferer is its consequence.

Grant McKenzie’s story goes like this, click HERE

On 20 May 2017, Grant McKenzie was notified that his Peaceful Pill Handbook had been seized by Australian Customs.

Grant McKenzie requests the Peaceful Pill Book is Released to Him


Reference DGMS No: N0431462 C1PKK1

I have today received notice of the seizure of my book At: SGF –Second inspection. No state is quoted in the seizure notice.

Please find attached the duly completed and signed Form 144 requesting the release and providing me with my book.

This book is for my own personal reference, is not imported for sale or distribution to a third party.

Yours faithfully,

Grant McKenzie


On 22 May Australian Border Force replies:


Dear Mr McKenzie

Thank you for your claim for seized goods. The matters you have raised shall be considered and we shall respond once that it done.

Yours Sincerely

Christopher Payne

Supervisor National Claims Processing Section

Legal Division

Dept. of Immigration & Border Protection

P: 02 8339 6327



Postal address: National Claims Processing Section, Dept. of Immigration & Border Protection, GPO Box 9989, Sydney NSW 2001.


Grant McKenzie Complains to Border Force that his Peaceful Pill Handbook has been seized by Customs

4 June 2017

Dear Sir,

I refer to the seizure of my book (DGMS No; N0431462 C1PKK1) , lodgement of my claim for is release (Form B144) and the acknowledgement of my claim as per the below email from BORDER PROTECTION.

At this time in my life which should be a time of relaxing and enjoying my family after a life time of work I have been diagnosed with a fatal crippling disease (Motor Neuron Disease) and face an immediate future of total paralysis and death without dignity.

There is no cure and no treatment for MND and its progression to an appalling and unpleasant death .

I am 70 years of age, have worked and been a tax payer since I was 15 and have never been arrested by police or committed any crime i.e am a law abiding citizen, a self- funded retiree in receipt of nothing, that’s right, no pension no health card, nothing from any government!!

This is my reward for a life time of obedience to the laws of this country, which I love, NOTHING, not even the respect due to me to decide my future!!!!!

I have watched over the past years the decline in education standards, the vocal minority becoming the daily focal point of our media and the quasi ruling factors within our parliamentary system supposedly promoting an individuals RIGHTS.

The decline in our nations respect for the law is reflected in the massive and catastrophic spread of methamphetamines’.

Our TV, printed newspapers and the many internet social media platforms promote this breakdown as the “rights of the minority”. A RIGHT without responsibility e.g tax payer funded injecting rooms, tax payer funded medical costs & legal support for violent criminals / terrorists and their associates, tax payer funded support for persons illegally entering this country and remaining here, tax payer supported religious bigots and bucolic extremists, the list goes on and is a deplorable reflection of these persons RIGHTS.

I purchased a book which I understand supports death without extended suffering & the loss of dignity, surely the last vestige of a person’s RIGHTS and surely MY RIGHT.

I have read with great interest the grounds for this seizure as contained in “Insert details of grounds for seizure”and would question where this book is dealing or promoting matters of sex, morality & decency all which are totally unbelievable in this day of those very assertions being promoted in our parliament as human RIGHTS. The notice goes on to use the words INCITE, promote, instruct the misuse of a drug.

If you consider my actions in importing this book “THE PEACEFUL PILL”for my own education and edification are in any way proved connected to the subjects of the seizure I would be in full support of your actions & furthermore if Border Protection believe I have committed or likely to commit a crime related to any of the matters of the seizure order then try me as a criminal.

If not, release my book to me and allow me to make up my own mind on its content, surely this is MY RIGHT.

As a rational, mature adult I give Border Protection an unequivocal undertaking to destroy the book should I find it contains

subject matter correlating to those seizure grounds.

Yours Sincerely,

Grant McKenzie


Border Force Tells Dying Man He Cannot Read Peaceful Pill Handbook

6 June 2017


Dear Mr McKenzie

Thank you for your email below.

You have raised several matters that I cannot comment on, but I can expand on why your goods (the publication “The Peaceful Pill”) were seized.

As stated on the seizure notice it was seized as “objectionable material”under Regulation 4A of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. The grounds of seizure on the notice listed all of the grounds that could cause a publication to be classified as objectionable material, and I take your point that not all of those grounds apply in this instance.

What does apply is that the publication promotes the misuse of a drug, specifically it promotes the use of barbiturates, which are prohibited imports.

The publication also instructs a person in how to use a suicide device, and the importation of such publications is prohibited under another provision of the Regulations.

The Peaceful Pill [sic] was considered by the Classification Review Board in 2007. In their written decision they examined the publication at some length and I attach a copy of their decision for your information.

Would you please let me know if you wish to pursue your claim? And feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Yours Sincerely

Christopher Payne

Supervisor National Claims Processing Section

Legal Division

Dept. of Immigration & Border Protection

P: 02 8339 6327




Grant McKenzie Questions Border Force’s Logic

Dear Mr Payne,

Thank you for the prompt and detailed and courteous response you have made to mine.

I have made a more detailed study of the “reasons” provided for the seizure of my book and on study of the attached (to your mail today) of the Classification Review Board 2007 of 2007 two quite glaring anomalies appear:

  1. the reasons for the seizure as appear on the seizure notice date back to a Classification Statement of the early 1960’s.

Following a review of this classification the book was released for sale in the “brown paper under the counter” classification to prevent its advertising or being obtained by a minor. Am I correct in my historical analysis ??

  1. the present Classification reads as if the paranoia of Barbiturates (then by the Attorney General Phillip Ruddock) takes no account either of now days elimination of barbiturates or replacement by alternative (non lethal) in human use prescription “sleeping drugs”.

Your mail mentions the use of a suicide device but does not list these, should we not consider / discuss the motor car (also as a murder devise I may add !!) a plastic bag or a length of common rope. The shelves of any hardware store in Australian shopping centres offer a limitless variety of devises, lethal poisons and chemicals (all imported) that are potential suicide and indeed potential murder & terrorist aids the instructed use of which are readily available via the internet.

From what I have been able to glean via available sources (not illegal) my seized book PEACEFUL PILL offers not a tome of illegality, murder, mayhem or terror but a solution to an individuals chose of exiting this life in a peaceful, dignified and painless way.

Something that should be born in mind when outdated and unrealistic decisions are foistered on a democracy.

I would also like to bring to your attention my personal but easily investigated and challenge welcomed opinion that:

Canberra and the ACT is, without doubt, Australia’s absolute & unquestionable major source and distribution center of obscene, pornographic and offensive material (possibly also to include Parliament House and those presently within it??).

All this material is readily available, not in brown paper wrappers but easily assessable over the counter and of course widely distributed via internet on line sales to other states where such material may be banned or at least restricted.

To mention the seat of our parliament and bureaucracy as being in such a distribution center is possibly an obscenity in itself but after all such may be accepted as an “expression of free thinking”!!

You mention pursuing a claim for release of my book, of course I want it released to me, I honestly purchased it for my own edification and knowledge certainly not for distribution.

I’ve submitted the necessary form and made subsequent representation challenging the reasons given for its seizure however without now commencing expensive legal and media representation to take an action against the Commonwealth even to find the correct path of challenge what alternative avenues are open to me ?

There are many unchallenged and common sense reasons why this seizure action should be challenged and be widely examined however my personal state of health (I have MND) including severely effected speech make such a time consuming and expensive challenge possibly beyond my physical and financial means.

Yours Sincerely,

Grant McKenzie


Department of Immigration & Border Force Threaten Court Costs Should Grant Mackenzie Not Withdraw his Claim to have his Peaceful Pill Handbook Released


Dear Mr McKenzie

Thank you for your email.

You have made a claim for the return of seized goods (the publication “The Peaceful Pill”) . You have also raised objections to the seizure of the goods, and the Classification Review Board’s review of that publication.

Now that you have made a claim, section 205D of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) applies. If the claim is not withdrawn the Comptroller-General of Customs can start legal proceedings seeking an order that the goods are prohibited imports and that they be condemned as forfeited to the Crown.

During those proceedings, you can give evidence and make submissions to the Court about why the Court should not make those orders.

Those proceedings must be commenced before the end of 120 days after you made the claim for the return of the seized goods.

You should be aware that if legal proceedings are started, and the court makes an order that the goods are prohibited imports, and that they are condemned as forfeited to the Crown, then an order may be sought that you pay our legal costs.

You may withdraw your claim by telephoning or writing to us and no further action will be taken.

Please let us know if you intend to pursue the claim.

Yours Sincerely

Christopher Payne

Supervisor National Claims Processing Section

Legal Division

Dept. of Immigration & Border Protection

P: 02 8339 6327



Postal address: National Claims Processing Section, Dept. of Immigration & Border Protection, GPO Box 9989, Sydney NSW 2001.


Dear Mr Payne,

I acknowledge your mail of today’s date with reference to the intended action against me should I have the timidity to challenge a decision which is outdated and has relevance in today’s Australia.

I am 70 years of age with a terminal illness and find the threat of LEGAL COSTS being paid to the Commonwealth by me for stating my right of choice abhorrent !!

To mount a legal challenge against your seizure order is, as you well know, a monumental and expensive action and no doubt the threat is enough to deter any such challenge

I regard the action of the Commonwealth in seizure of this book a further demonstration of the loss of choice in our country and the threat of legal costs exactly that, a threat against my person made entirely to dissuade me should I dare to challenge the bigots and ill- informed control freaks making a choice over my life.

From here the only course of action against this ridiculous seizure is for me to exposure that action in a more political and public forum which I certainly intend to do.

As you expected, I herewith withdraw my claim for the release of my book.

Yours sincerely,

Grant McKenzie


March 7, 2017

Why Euthanasia is a Feminist Issue

For many years now I’ve mulled on the idea that euthanasia – a good death – is a feminist issue.

In some ways I came to the cause of end of life choices through feminism.

Indeed, my very first letter to the editor when I was 20 was about abortion rights. I was upset that conservative commentator Greg Sheridan of The Australian newspaper was so anti-choice and so willing to tell the women of Australia what they should / should not do with their bodies.

Sheridan’s paternalism was insufferable. The patriarchy that gave him a right to put his regressive and repressive thoughts in print was unjust.

It is an irony perhaps that this guy set me on a path for a career in opinion editorial writing (I would later become a regular contributor to Murdoch’s Australian until in the early 2000s the paper took an even sharper turn to the right and I was dissed as collateral damage).

But back to International Womens’ Day 2017 and why euthanasia is a feminist issue.

To say that something is a feminist issue is to argue that it affects half the world’s population in different and unique ways. And often those ways are inequitable, unfair and downright wrong. More often than not those ways demand something special in recognition and action.

So why is Euthanasia a Feminist Issue?

My dot point list goes like this (and it is a work in progress):

Women are caregivers – this means they are more likely to be the ones close to, and intricately involved in the care of, ageing or ill parents or spouses. And if that loved one decides to exit early, it is almost inevitable that the woman will be implicated in the decision-making.

The decision of a loved one to end their suffering – from illness or old age – will likely mean that the wife, daughter, mother or sister will be involved. Should the death not go according to plan, should the law become involved, it is the woman can be the one left holding the legal can. She is the one who could be prosecuted for assisting.

Protecting women (and men) from the law in the event of an ‘assisted’ suicide makes euthanasia a feminist issue.

Women live longer than men – as the ones left behind, it is women who will likely find themselves without their spouse. It is women who will find themselves living out their old age in a way never envisaged. Perhaps in a state or grief and loneliness for which there is no cure.

And it will be women who are faced with having to make their own end of life decisions unsupported by the person who was closest to them for all those years.

This is why euthanasia is a feminist issue.

Women have long had to exert control – over their bodies and their lives – historically in the face of a hostile medical profession. Self-determination makes the act of planning for one’s own death just one more decision in a life-time of decision-making against societal forces that often think they know best.

Control over one’s life and death is fundamental. A woman’s body is a historical battleground for society: not only in terms of reproduction but in terms of what makes a woman a lady. What makes a woman respectable and valued in the eyes of society. How femininity is valued and rewarded (or not, as the case is also often).

Control over when and how one dies is a feminist issue.

Can it be said that women are more likely to be organised than men when it comes to the logistics of life planning. This claim is contentious. However what I have seen in my 15 years at Exit is that the women who come to our meetings (often on their own or with friends) are organised. Sometimes they are hyper-organised.

These women often have come to Exit through the second wave women’s movement of the 1970s. They know activism. Many have needed to battle before. The sentiment of ‘get your rosaries off my ovaries’ tells of a willingness to oust state control from the personal sphere.

This is why euthanasia is a feminist issue.

And so on this International Womens’ Day 2017 on 8 March, those of us who operate this website and who make the publication of the Peaceful Pill Handbook series possible are pronouncing our feminism loud and proud.

The website and the forums will remain open (there is no backup staff for us to do otherwise).

We welcome discussion of this blog in the forums.

Happy International Womens Day to you all.

Dr Fiona Stewart