Shalom College Bundaberg principal Mr Dan McMahon
Shalom College Bundaberg principal Mr Dan McMahon

School principal 'jeered' in push favouring palliative care

SHALOM College's principal confirmed he was heckled when speaking against voluntary euthanasia at an inquiry hearing recently held in Bundaberg.

Dan McMahon said the healthcare political agenda needed to focus on making sure people died without being in pain, before allowing the choice for people in pain to die.

"No one in this country should die in pain,” Mr McMahon said.

"Sadly the provision for good palliative care is not there.

"Let's solve that one first because I think it's solvable.

"Nobody should die agonising deaths.”

More than 150 Bundaberg residents attended the inquiry at the Burnett Riverside Motel's function room last month, with more than 30 speakers addressing the committee chaired by Thuringowa State MP Aaron Harper.

The Catholic Leader reported that attendees were "jeering” at Mr McMahon as he spoke.

He was among the minority who spoke against voluntary euthanasia, although another inquiry witness aligned with his position was parish priest Peter Tonti.

Mr McMahon said he understood why attendees objected to his position as there were many witnesses before him who shared emotional experiences about family members or friends who died painfully.

Pro-euthanasia group Dying With Dignity were well organised when representatives came to the hearing, but that was part of democracy, Mr McMahon said.

In the inquiry Mr McMahon said he watched his younger brother die of cancer at 26 years old in Mt Olivet Hospital in Brisbane.

He died in comfort and was surrounded by family who had the chance to say goodbye to him.

"I worry that for stretched government budgets, voluntary assisted dying can be a much cheaper alternative,” Mr McMahon said.

"Excellent provision of palliative care for Queenslanders, regardless of postcode or income will be, and should be expensive.

"But we must make that a priority.”

Mr McMahon said voluntary assisted dying legislation could eventually broaden for people suffering from long-term degenerative and terminal diseases such as cystic fibrosis, or Huntingdon's disease, although further acknowledged that he did like taking the "slippery slope” argument.

But history had shown since the ancient Greeks coined the word 'euthanasia' that not many politicians succeeded in legislating a "clean death”, Mr McMahon said.