David Seymour should buy a Lotto ticket

Something unusual happened in Parliament on Wednesday night of last week. Not the 76-44 vote in favour of the first reading of Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill. That was entirely predictable.

No, it was what happened next which suggests that Seymour is very lucky indeed.

Seymour rose to move that the bill be referred to the Justice Select Committee which would have to report back within nine months. Just a procedural motion, right? Hmm.


The extraordinarily lucky thing for Seymour is that all eight members of that committee had just voted in favour of the first reading. All of them.

Call me suspicious, call me cynical, but that strikes me as ... improbable. In fact, it's a 2.6 per cent probability.

Here's the maths: 76 of 120 members voted in favour, or a 63.33 per cent likelihood that any individual would vote in favour. The likelihood that 8 randomly selected members all voted in favour is therefore 0.6333 raised to the power of 8, which is 0.02588, or 2.6 per cent between friends.

So either Seymour is very lucky, or it wasn't random at all. That it was in fact all arranged beforehand.

Now, that's maybe clever inside politics, but maybe it's also not very clever outside politics. Because it's going to raise the level of scrutiny of how the Justice Select Committee goes about its work on this bill. Is it going to be an open, transparent and fair hearing of all New Zealanders who want to have their say?

When you come from a 25 per cent majority constituency (disabled people) who are alarmed to be directly in the loosey-goosey eligibility criteria cross hairs of this bill, open fair and transparent select committee dealings are minimum standard.

Will we get it? It's a big ask for disabled people to trust the select committee process when there already appears to be a certain bias.

There's an argument doing the rounds that the Health Select Committee finished its long hearings into Maryan Street's petition earlier this year, so there's no need to repeat the exercise.


Two things could be said here: first, that the select committee was not considering a bill but investigating the broader issues surrounding end of life in general, and suicide in particular. So New Zealanders have not yet had the chance to have their say about this particular bill.

Second – and pay attention now – six of the eight members of the Health Select Committee who issued the final report voted no at the first reading of Seymour's bill. That is, 75 per cent of the people who actually read the evidence, and heard directly from New Zealanders, thought about it and said "No thanks, David".

This bill is literally a matter of life and death. It's not a time to cut corners, or do backroom deals for procedural advantage. We need to ensure choice is not only a choice to die, and not make life for disabled and other at-risk people even more risky. It's a time to take the time to listen and think very carefully.

Or maybe buy a Lotto ticket and hope for the best?

• Wendi Wicks is convener of Not Dead Yet Aotearoa, a group of disabled people who do not support the legalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide in New Zealand.