End of life: quality versus quantity of days

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Interesting though all the letters have been about dementia and voluntary assisted dying, there is another side of the coin. My mum is 89. She has heart failure and advanced lung disease and myriad other health complications. Her latest comment to her cardiologist was: ″⁣I just want to go. This is not living. All I do is sit in my chair and do nothing because I cannot breathe properly.″⁣ But does she fall under the guidelines of applying for VAD? No. How do you help someone like that, who has an active brain and is well able to make the decision herself, but, by law, she cannot. And so Mum just goes on existing, which in my book is completely different to living. There is a huge difference between quality of life and quantity of life. Most people, if not all, would prefer quality because without quality what are you left with? Incidentally, my dad died with dementia.
Catherine Gerardson, Watsonia North

The final decision should be with me
Thank you for publishing letters and articles on the need for people with dementia being able to access voluntary assisted dying.
I am 84 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease six years ago. I know the trajectory of the disease. It has already had an impact on my mobility and energy levels and I take regular medication. I have lost some slabs of memory, mainly details of happy holidays and events, but I do not believe I am cognitively impaired. I can plan, shop, cook, pay bills and often beat my husband at Scrabble.
I want to be able to decide now, after discussion with my family, at what stage I would like my life to end. I have had a full and happy life and dread it ending in the way described in your recent articles and correspondence.
Joanna Eccleston, Malvern

It shouldn’t be a Catch-22 situation
I rage against the voluntary assisted dying arguments about the inability of those suffering the living hell of dementia to escape their torment. Author Joseph Heller coined this dilemma – Catch 22. So many people die in dreadful circumstances because they are caught in a no-win situation.
Rosalind McIntosh, Camberwell

Into the future, I want control
Kate Gregorevic (Comment, 15/5) outlines a #FutureMeToo movement. If I can decide through an advance care directive to access my legal right to refuse medical treatment when FutureMe is brain damaged and dying, why can’t I have the same legal access to voluntary assisted dying under the same circumstances? I don’t want to suffer horribly and hopelessly when dying now or in the future.

Janine Truter, The Basin

Prolonging suffering is an indignity
Surely Kate Gregorevic was right in advocating for legal protocols that permitted the hastening of death for individuals with advanced dementia, who have previously indicted that this is their wish. The very worst part of my job for the 50 years I practised as a Protestant clergyman was my pastoral visits to those in facilities where the word dog made no more sense to residents than the word god.
What point is there continuing to exist with a grossly damaged, irreparable brain, deprived of even a fragment of interpersonal skills? Where is benefit being added first to the bearer of this psychological oblivion and and secondly to their loved ones? What we have here is a violation of selfhood and human dignity. Of course, none should be obliged to access such a voluntary, death-hastening provision, but all should be free to. And in my view, any benign god in any universe would be casting a Yes vote to such a legal provision. Healthy minded religion has always been a supporter of voluntary assisted death legislation on the grounds of moral autonomy, suffering, reduction, human dignity and a deity whose primary concern is the welfare of humans.
Kenneth Ralph, retired minister, Belmont


ABC out of touch
The ABC built a reputation as one of the world’s finest broadcasters through accurate observation of events important to all Australians and reporting them in an unbiased manner.
The poor ratings (″⁣Radio was the ABC’s crown jewel, but new data shows how it has fallen″⁣, 15/5) are a direct result of the ABC setting and championing agendas that are only relevant to a small percentage of the population.
The abysmal ratings should indicate to ABC management that they are the ones out of touch with their audience and the lack of respect towards the greater audience is being noticed.
Andy Worland, South Ballarat

That’s B for biased
I am not surprised at the falling listening audience numbers of the ABC. I feel it has morphed into the Australian Biased Corporation. The ABC should report news and commentary in a balanced and truthful manner, and not in a leftie-based way.
Emmery Bihary, Ormond

Time and place
I am not a monarchist but I do think those who are have a point in relation to the ABC’s coronation coverage. Most people would have tuned in to watch a spectacle, not a discussion about monarchy v republic and Indigenous history. By all means have that debate and promote it for what it is, but not under the guise of coronation coverage. Time and place, ABC, time and place.
Damien Ryan, Berwick

Red tape burden
While Premier Daniel Andrews is improving the toxic internal culture at the Victorian Building Authority (The Age, 13/5) he should also examine the regulatory burden the authority places on builders.
While technical oversight of the industry is welcome and sometimes necessary, there is a substantial amount of repetitive compliance placed on registered builders to maintain their registration. Proof that companies, directors and builders are reputable and honest requires multiple applications with identical information to be submitted, costing thousands of dollars in fees and days of preparation. This seems to be typical of the bureaucratic way the authority operates.
Name and address supplied

A use for shooting
Duck shooters who claim their birds and then eat them, that’s fair enough. But maybe a shooter’s attention could be swayed towards rabbits and deer, with the hope that the environmental and ethical restaurant community might trend towards dishes featuring such meat, and shooters might actually profit from their ″⁣sport″⁣.
Jae Sconce, Moonee Ponds

Money and sense
Wouldn’t it make sense if you are the last bank standing in a regional area to remain open? (″⁣Regional towns fighting wave of bank closures″⁣, 15/5) People who banked with the opposition would then probably move across to the only remaining player in town. The bank would get new customers, and people would continue to bank and shop in town.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Tanks for nothing
Julian O’Shea’s piece ″⁣Safety suffers as suburban tanks claim streets″⁣ (12/5) struck a chord with me. As I sit here, I have one of those tanks parked outside my house for days on end. The tank overshoots the parking space and obstructs my access to my driveway. It also restricts the sunlight coming into the front garden and dangerously blocks my view of the street as I leave my property.
Surely these beasts have no place in suburban streets. Tax these private tanks out of existence.
Michael Carroll, Kensington

Lower speed is better
Recent correspondence has focused on the 30km/h speed limit on some streets in Collingwood. All I can add is that I would much rather have a 30km/h limit than to have a 40 or 50km/h limit accompanied by a string of 20km/h speed bumps, as featured in several streets near me. If someone could explain the twisted logic behind this I would greatly appreciate it, particularly as high-riding SUVs are able to breeze over them at a much higher speed than my car can manage, resulting in discriminatory effective speed limits.
David Francis, Ivanhoe

Hard to forget
Sean Kelly is correct (Comment, 15/5). Why should we simply forget Peter Dutton’s past actions and words, now that he is leader. His past misdemeanours (walking out on the apology to Indigenous Australians – does his subsequent apology hold water?) and careless and offensive words around asylum seekers should be forever etched in our minds. Dutton’s has always been a politics of negativity, division and hurtfulness.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

Dirt bike damage
Over the past year or so Parks Victoria has done excellent work in Lal Lal State Forest, regrading and sheeting access tracks and blocking illegal dirt-bike tracks. PV staff must be frustrated when dirt bikers continue to grind routes through virgin bush to carry on their pastime. It is so damaging to the park and disturbing for its wildlife.
Ross McIntyre, Buninyong

Fundamental position
In the course of rebuking the European Broadcasting Union for its unwillingness to allow Volodymyr Zelensky to deliver a political address at the Eurovision Song contest, a spokesperson for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed that the values for which Zelensky stands were fundamental, rather than political (″⁣Eurovision refuses Zelensky″⁣, 14/5).
This raises the question as to how to distinguish a fundamental stand from a merely political one. The answer, I suspect, is that the former is a position the politician in question agrees with, while the latter is not.
John Chiddick, Hawthorn East

The contest is all
Sports columnist Jake Niall (14/5) errs when he criticises coach Simon Goodwin’s concern about the threat to the ″⁣fabric of the game″⁣ represented by the Jacob van Rooyen case. Niall claims that the fabric consists of the ″⁣high mark, the brilliant goal″⁣, the ″⁣disposal skills″⁣.
In essence, though, the fabric of the game is contest. The spirited chase-down, the audacious tackle, the daring spoil when you are outnumbered by the opposition – these are the stuff of what we love about AFL football.
Rosemary Clerehan, Armadale

No place for laziness
Education Minister Jason Clare should advise the three leaders of his review of the education system not to jump on a plane to see what works in other countries (″⁣Clare plots education revolution″⁣, 15/5).
For decades, Australians have been travelling to Finland to marvel at their schools. They return full of reformist zeal only to discover they have landed back in Australia, a place with a vastly different society, history and culture from the Nordic countries. While it’s tempting to simply copy the success of others, it is indicative of the lazy thinking which might help explain some of the problems with Australia’s education system.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Review is welcome
It was wonderful to hear that the government is commissioning a review of school funding, and that Labor will be treating education as an important investment rather than a cost. This is long overdue, but very welcome.
Our member agencies frequently assist parents who can’t afford to pay education expenses. In a two-week snapshot survey by CISVic, 84 per cent of families with dependent children were struggling with school costs.
Sixty per cent of these families said this had affected their children. They fall behind in their schooling and miss out on the life of the school community. Often they feel humiliated and marginalised, with some not wanting to go to school at all. Evidently the detrimental effects of unaffordable schooling are psychological and social, as well as educational.
Kate Wheller, executive officer,
Community Information and Support Victoria

Relevance missing
I, like your correspondents (Letters, 15/5), was taken by Antony Loewenstein’s article and his struggle against the wrath of the Jewish community, until I got to his description of Jerusalem’s Haradim Jews “bearing all the hallmarks of a 19th-century Eastern European ghetto” (Good Weekend, 13/5). But how is that relevant to Loewenstein’s criticisms of the Jewish community here, Israel or the plight of the Palestinians, and why the Haradim Jews? Perhaps Loewenstein is suggesting that they all go back to where his family members escaped from?
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Avoidance not solution
Your correspondent (Letters, 15/5) suggests we ignore neo-Nazis in the hope they will go away. History says otherwise. Ignorance emboldens fascism. Only united resistance from all fair-minded thinkers puts them back under their rock.
Alan Shiel, Lorne

Corral them
These neo-Nazi protesters are cowards for not showing their faces. Instead of allowing counter-protests, cordon off the area around them so no one can see or interact with them – then they will be isolated. Ignore them and hopefully they will get bored with no one reacting.
Vicki Jordan, Lower Plenty


George Brandis (Comment, 15/5) has detailed some fine demographic geography, but the Liberals need some policies.
Rob Hocart, Tyabb

Sean Kelly (Comment, 15/5) on Peter Dutton and his blatant dog-whistle politics was spot on: it’s time this rusty tool was removed from his grasp.
Mary Cole, Richmond

Sean Kelly, those who think that the immigration rate is foolishly high are not dogs. They are people.
Albert Riley, Mornington

The Howard haters morphed into the Abbott haters, then the Turnbull and Morrison haters and now the Dutton haters. Seems the common link is more about voting preferences than personalities.
Trevor Street, Park Orchards

I hate to be a Grinch, but has anyone calculated the carbon footprint of Eurovision?
Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg

Congrats, Voyager! Now I know what a ″⁣progressive epic pop synth metal band″⁣ is.
John Hughes, Mentone

Are those landlords mistakenly claiming tax deductions in the same boat as those employers accidentally underpaying their staff?
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West

How weak can democratic processes become when the AFL can hold a state government to ransom for millions of taxpayer dollars?
John Heggie, Hastings

The Pharmacy Guild is skating on thin ice in opposing the dispensing reform. Sounds awfully like self-interest trumping patient welfare.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Jeff Sykes still rowing at 79 (″⁣Unsinkable will to win keeps rower going″⁣, 15/5). I hold him in oar.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Re ″⁣The journey from vegetarian to shooting dinner″⁣ (13/5). One down, 199,999,999 to go.
Debbie Lustig, Elsternwick

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