Walkerville Council investigates whether Dr Death clinic has proper approvals

20 November 2013 4:00 AM

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Walkerville Council investigates whether Dr Death clinic has proper approvals

Doctor Philip Nitschke demonstrates the use of his suicide machine to cancer sufferer Cath Ringwood while in Tasmania for the euthanasia debate in parliament.

WALKERVILLE Council will investigate whether euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke's Gilberton clinic has the right planning approvals.

Dr Philip Nitschke - the man dubbed Dr Death - has opened Australia's first voluntary euthanasia advice clinic inside an old grocery shop at 19 Gilbert St.

The clinic will test drugs and distribute nitrogen kits for terminally ill patients considering ending their lives.

The council confirmed "existing use rights" apply for the site to be used as an office and home, but no subsequent consent was sought by Dr Nitschke for change of use to consulting rooms.

"Notwithstanding, a consulting room is able to operate from a residential premises without consent in certain circumstances," a council spokeswoman said in an emailed response to the City North Messenger.

"It is not currently clear as to whether the business in question fits this criteria, however it is important to note that Council's powers as a planning authority are limited to controlling planning issues - (such as) amenity, parking, noise - as opposed to the essential nature of the practise itself.

"As such, and given the emergence of the matter in the media, council will investigate the issue further in accordance with its Development Enforcement and Compliance Policy."

Cr Sinead Bernadi - the wife of federal Liberal senator Corey Bernadi - told Monday night's council meeting that the clinic should be shut down.

"Voluntary euthanasia is not legal in South Australia," she told the meeting.

"Under council's own development, enforcement and compliance policy, it states that local government is charged legislative responsibilities which protect individuals in the community as a whole.

"While I agree it is up to individuals and groups to comply with the law, I do think council has the discretion to carry out activities which enforce unlawful activities to cease."

After the meeting Cr Bernadi said it was "obvious it is going to help people end their lives".

Independent MP Bob Such's Ending Life With Dignity Bill is now before State Parliament.

If passed, the bill will allow a limited number of terminally ill people or those suffering unbearable pain the right to request medical assistant to die.

Dr Nitschke - whose wife Fiona attended the meeting - said Cr Bernadi's views were ill-informed.

The clinic would be set up so people weighing up their options weren't making "serious and silly mistakes," he said.

"Suicide is not a crime and exploring the issue and legal issues and discussing what will work is not a crime either," Dr Nitschke said.

"Cr Bernadi dislikes immensely the concept of voluntary euthanasia and that is clouding her judgement."

Dr Nitschke said Cr Bernadi "has not listened" to comments in the media and objected to suggestions people would be dying at the clinic.

Source: dailytelegraph.com.au

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