By Paul Russell - The Director of HOPE Australia.
On Wednesday the 12th of November the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal wrapped up three days of appeal hearings launched by director of Exit International, Philip Nitschke against the suspension of his medical registration in July this year by the South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
The SA Branch took action to suspend in July this year after a media report concerning the suicide death of Perth man, Nigel Brayley, revealed that Nitschke did not act to dissuade Brayley from taking his own life. The revelation drew the ire of suicide prevention associations across Australia and a formal complaint from Beyond Blue chairman, Jeff Kennett.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Medical Board,” argue(d) it was forced to use its emergency powers to protect vulnerable suicidal people from Mr Nitschke and his "dangerous ideas". More seriously, the board is expected to tell the five-member panel, it had to act because Mr Nitschke possessed the means to transform these ideas into action.”
Since 2012 when an officer of the Therapeutic Goods Administration office made a complaint concerning an alleged attempt by Nitschke to import Nembutal, we understand that a further 11 formal complaints have been made to the medical watchdog, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
In a clear declaration of commitment, AHPRA announced, on the eve of the Darwin hearings, that the 12 complaints (or notifications) were being referred to the Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal. At the time of the suspension in July, the AMA made it clear that the suspension was about their belief that Nitschke presented, ‘a serious risk to public safety’ adding that their interim action was an effort to, ‘keep the public safe while other investigations or processes continue.’