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Dying to talk about euthanasia

By The Redhead - posted Monday, 20 September 2010

Censorship has become a hot topic in Australia over recent months, particularly around the government’s proposed internet filter.

But there’s another censorship matter which cropped up recently.

Exit International is a voluntary euthanasia advocacy organisation headed by the well known Australian, Dr Philip Nitschke.


A few weeks ago you might remember ABC TV’s The Gruen Transfer had two advertising companies “pitch” at the idea of voluntary euthanasia.

Interestingly the winning firm “The Works” was then hired by Exit to make a real ad which was due to screen from Sunday, September 12th. According to Exit Internationals’ website the ad was pulled at the last minute after advice from Commercials Advice (CAD) which is a classification body.

Here’s what the Exit website says:

By Friday the Ad had been banned on advice from Commercials Advice (CAD) lawyer, Alison Lee.

Ms Lee alleges that the Ad which was approved by CAD at pre-production and post-production stages for airing on TV, breaches s2.17.5 of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice' Suicide: Realistic depiction of methods of suicide, or promotion or encouragement of suicide'.

Even more offensively, in her email, Ms Lee continues "We have considered that an advertisement for voluntary euthanasia is a promotion or encouragement of suicide as voluntary euthanasia would be considered to be a subset of suicide." (Exit underline not mine)

Exit has heard many arguments against VE, but never one as left-field as this one.

The ad is an expression of free speech & political communication. The ad directly addresses the government and calls for legislative action. To argue otherwise suggests that CAD has an alternative agenda to censor important political debate on the issue.

I’ve watched the ad and it’s about as inoffensive as an ad can get. The man in the ad is an actor, not someone who’s actually suffering from a terminal illness. It’s on message but not in-your-face. To be honest it’s easier to watch than a Harvey Norman or Joyce Mayne ad!

Why shouldn’t Australian audiences be allowed to see this ad?


I’m sure it would be screened at a suitable time to avoid those awkward questions from six-year-olds, and would hopefully encourage some sensible debate in this country about such an important topic.

Given research shows a majority of Australians support the concept of voluntary euthanasia (Newspoll: nationwide trends show 85 per cent support and the figure is rising, approx 5 per cent over two years), just who would be offended by an ad seeking to lobby government?

Let’s not forget the federal government has seen fit to step in on this before.

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First published on the author's blog on September 12, 2010.

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About the Author

While making a main career in the media, The RedHead draws on a bit of life experience from the slightly less glamorous, but extremely fulfilling years mustering cattle and running a bottle shop. All have honed her skills for observing human nature and her sense of humour. She has a teenage son and a husband, and enjoys the satisfaction of the toilet seat always being down. Love Is – never having to ask!

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