October 26, 2015
PRESS RELEASE: Resolution of Complaints by the Medical Board of Australia
Exit’s Official Response to the ‘Official’ Press Release Approved by the Australian Medical Board
At the end of the day, it’s all about who’s got the most money to pay the lawyers …
As the incoming Director of Exit International, public health sociologist, Dr Fiona Stewart, has called the Medical Board’s gag order on her husband, Dr Philip Nitschke an outdated, regressive attack on free speech.
‘The conditions which the Medical Board have placed on Philip belong in last century’ she said.
‘They are an antiquated attempt to stifle debate on this cutting-edge social issue now and for the future. It seems crazy that just a few weeks ago California became the 4th US state to legislate on this issue.
‘Meanwhile in Australia, the MBA has ruled that no Australian doctor can mention the word euthanasia or assisted suicide to a patient or members of the public. They can’t even talk about Dignitas if asked’ she said.
‘This leaves seriously ill people in the dark about their options which is a cruel and inhumane situation’ she said.
‘Denying people access to information takes one back to the dark ages where Big Brother determined the subject of public debate’.
‘The mediation is really the result of Dr Nitschke not being able to afford any more legal representation.
‘Unlike the Medical Board which can spend tax payers dollars as they want, Philip doesn’t have a bottomless pit of money.
‘He has already spent the best part of $250,000 on fighting the MBA.
In July, the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory ruled that the Medical Board had acted illegally. He says he doesn’t have another million dolllars to prove them wrong over the course of a 3-4 week hearing’ she said.
Speaking from Switzerland, Dr Stewart said Exit International’s activities will largely continue unabated.
To this end, an ambitious series of workshops is planned for Australia commencing in Darwin on Friday 27 November.
Cities include: Darwin, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Hobart and Adelaide. Dates are on the Exit Website. ‘
The workshops will be conducted by Dr Stewart. Dr Nitschke will be in attendance.
‘As I am a public health sociologist and not a medical doctor, I am not under the jurisdiction of the Medical Board. As long as I remain within Australian law, I am free to continue Philip’s message and his pioneering work’ she said.
In regard to the future of Exit, Dr Stewart has announced that this week Exit will launch a survey of members to see how thousands of Exit supporters in Australia and internationally, view the Australian Medical Board’s restrictions on Dr Nitschke and his work at Exit International.
The results of the survey will be released in Darwin on Friday 27 November and will determine Dr Nitschke’s future work on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.
In the interim, Philip plans to consider fine-tuning his acclaimed Ed Fringe comedy show, ‘Dicing with Dr Death’, which received rave 4 star and 5 star reviews at its debut at Ed Fringe in August 2015. She said he hopes to perform Dicing in Melbourne in March 2016.
* As per the agreement, this media release has been shown and not objected to prior to release by the Medical Board of Australia.
Resolution of Complaints by the Medical Board of Australia
On 23 July 2014 the Immediate Action Committee of the Medical Board of Australia suspended my medical registration.
A hearing was held in Darwin in November 2014 at which the Tribunal upheld the complaints of the Medical Board.
I appealed this decision and on 6 July 2015 the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory found this suspension to be unlawful and ordered that my medical registration be immediately reinstated.
In Darwin in November 2014 the Medical Board referred a further 12 complaints to the NT Medical Tribunal about my conduct while a registered medical practitioner dating back to my involvement in 2011 with Motor Neurone Disease sufferer Wendy Benton in South Australia.
It was anticipated that there would be a further costly 4-6 week hearing of the complaints in November 2015.
At a mediation meeting held in Darwin in September 2015, I reached agreement with the Medical Board to resolve the forthcoming Tribunal proceedings.
I remain a registered medical practitioner with conditions placed on this registration including:
I will not practice medicine outside the Northern Territory.
Medical practice includes that I will not use my skills and knowledge as a medical practitioner in the management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the medical profession.
Furthermore I have undertaken not to provide advice or information to any patient or member of the public, including via workshops, The Peaceful Pill Handbook on how to suicide and I must remove my name from The Peaceful Pill Handbook.
I have agreed to these conditions being imposed in order to put an end to this matter with the Medical Board.
At this stage, I do not propose to comment further.
Dr Philip Nitschke MB BS PhD
26 Oct, 2015
Exit International Media Officer (Acting): Dr Fiona Stewart, Aust: 0417 398 401 or Switzerland + 41 796 30 87 58.