Do people deserve the right to die?

The right to choose when and how to die is just as important as freedom of speech, an elderly Hobart man says.

John Palmer, 84, is lobbying for the drug Nembutal, a barbiturate used for euthanasia, to be legalised in a bill of human rights.

In Hobart today, the Federal Government’s Human Rights Consultation Committee is gauging public opinion on the need for a legal document to protect rights.

Mr Palmer believes a bill of rights is necessary, particularly one that legalises Nembutal.

He said he was not suffering any life-threatening terminal illnesses but was simply getting old and was more aware of death.

“I’m furious with the politicians for saying when we can or cannot die,” he said.

“I firmly believe that we should have the right to have a peaceful death at a time and in a way of choice.

“It’s the most basic of human rights.”

Mr Palmer said he had watched several friends die terrible deaths because of terminal illness and he wanted to be able to choose a peaceful death.

“I want to have Nembutal in our bathroom cupboard so when the day comes, we can take it and die. We’d feel better just knowing it was there,” he said.

“My wife doesn’t want to survive me and I don’t want to survive her, and this will ensure that doesn’t happen and we can die in each other’s arms.”

According to Australian Lawyers Alliance president Clara Davis says “few people realise that rights such as freedom of speech and association are not poperly protected in the country and will not be unless people tell the Government that they should be protected.”

Nembutal was taken off the Australian market as a sleeping drug in 1998 and is available only to veterinarians for animals to die by euthanasia.

From The Mercury