John Key says he sympathises with a plea by terminally ill Wellington woman Lecretia Seales to reconsider euthanasia laws but he doubts it would get any traction in parliament.
The prime minister says he watched TVNZ's Sunday segment on Ms Seales, a lawyer who briefly worked for him and is now campaigning for the right to die when she chooses.
Ms Seales, who has a brain tumour, is arguing her case in the High Court at Wellington for a declaratory judgment that would protect her GP from prosecution if, and when, her doctor assists her to die.
But she's also lodged a plea with Mr Key himself, asking him: "Please don't put end of life issues on the backburner."
"It's a really important issue and as our population ages its going to become more and more important."
Responding to her request on TVNZ's Breakfast, Mr Key said that while he personally supported having a debate around euthanasia, it was a difficult issue that many of his parliamentary colleagues opposed.
"I actually think she makes a fair point," he said.
"At a personal level, I'm more than happy to have a debate and I'm quite liberal about that, but I will tell you that it's always a hard thing to get through parliament.
"It's never got the numbers and there are lots of people who feel very strongly the other way. It's[a] tragic situation because she's a fantastic lady."
He said many people opposed a law change because of fears some might feel intimidation or other pressure to die early.
Her husband Matt Vickers told the programme he was disappointed that the debate wasn't even in the private members' bill ballot at present.
Mr Vickers said Mr Key or Justice Minister Amy Adams could appoint a select committee to look into the issue, or instruct the Law Commission to investigate it.
source: newshub archive