Euthanasia advocate fined $7500 for importing drug her friend used to take her own life

The woman who was put on trial for the assisted suicide of her friend has today been sentenced for providing the drugs she used to take her life.

Susan Austen was found not guilty for aiding the suicide of Anne Marie Treadwell, but was found guilty for importing the Class C drug Pentobarbital at a trial in February.

She's today been sentenced and fined $2500 for the first charge and $5000 on the second charge, of importing the drug.

The judge in the case declined a discharge without conviction.

Austen faced a two week long trial in the High Court in Wellington. She was found not guilty on February 23 on the charge of assisting Anne Marie Treadwell to commit suicide, but guilty on two charges of importing the Class C drug.

Exit International founder Philip Nitschke says the verdict in Susan Austen's case sends a clear message an assisted dying law change is needed. Source: 1 NEWS

Pentobarbital is commonly used by vets in New Zealand to euthanise animals.

Mrs Treadwell died in June 2016 at her rest home in Wellington. Her cause of death was found to be Pentobarbital poisoning.

Susan Austen is the chair of Exit International in Wellington, and often held meetings for the pro-euthanasia group in her home. The organisation raised $70,000 from members worldwide, to help with her legal fees.

Austen's lawyer Donald Stephens QC told the court the former teacher and grandmother was a compassionate woman "focused on helping the vulnerable", volunteering for Victim Support, Women's Refuge, Rape Crisis and Alzheimer's New Zealand.

Susan Austen's defence team argued she did help the victim get a drug, but not with the intention she would use it. Source: 1 NEWS

He argued for a discharge without conviction, saying she would be the only person in New Zealand convicted for importing the drug. He also raised concerns around what a drug conviction would mean for Austen's international travel and helping her raise her grandchildren.

But the Crown argued Austen brought the drugs into the country with the intention that it would be distributed to others and that she was well aware of the law.

Austen was also supported by around 30 people outside court, who were holding signs.

On her way into court she told reporters she was glad the process was over.

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Susan Austen was previously acquitted of aiding the death of her friend. Source: 1 NEWS

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Japan and NZ join forces to help Pacific

Japan and New Zealand are joining forces to speed up assistance to the Pacific region.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the strategic partnership aimed to ensure funding for development goes a lot further.

Mr Peters has had talks in Wellington with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on teaming up to ensure decisions made don't get caught up in bureaucracy.

But he said how this would be done was still a matter for discussion.

"It would mean that a country that knows more about the Pacific than any other country - namely New Zealand - would play a key role in that and we're asking countries like Japan and elsewhere to acknowledge that."

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the two countries would be linking up at various levels including ocean security and enhancing connectivity

"The Pacific island region is strategically important for both Japan and New Zealand," he said.

Japan would also like to co-operate with New Zealand to resolve the problem of Pacific island debt, the Foreign Minister said.

1 NEWS' Jessica Mutch and Benedict Collins give their opinions of the Acting Prime Minister who ran the country during Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave.
Winston Peters. Source: 1 NEWS


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John Armstrong's opinion: Simon Bridges would've been castigated as incompetent if he didn't expose Jami-Lee Ross as leaker

The confirmation — surprise, surprise — that indeed it was Jami-Lee Ross who leaked embarrassing details of Simon Bridges' travel expenses to the media has vindicated the widely-scorned decision by the National Party leader to hunt down the culprit forthwith.

Simon Bridges has copped an inordinate, unfair and just plain wrong amount of stick for what his many critics have deemed to be amateur-hour handling of something which should have been brushed aside with barely a moment’s thought such was its insignificance in the grand scheme of things. And even more so given the information in question was about to be released by authorities into the public domain anyway.

In keeping alive something which succeeded in only shifting the focus away from matters which Bridges and his colleagues should have been talking about, the former poured more petrol on the funeral pyre that has been under construction since the opinion polls indicated that the replacement for Sir Bill English was not capturing the public’s imagination.

The Opposition leader launched an inquiry into the leak of his expenses earlier this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Even though he is not to blame for the two months that it has taken consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers to complete their investigation of the leak, Bridges should have expected the exercise would take far longer to complete than initially envisaged. That is always the case.

The flow of events has all added up to more ammunition for those who have convinced themselves that Bridges not only lacks the personal characteristics that a modern-day leader needs to win elections, he is also in deficit when it comes to the possession of the necessary political skills.

That those who feel that way are less forthcoming when it comes to declaring who exactly should replace him, that discrepancy has not diminished their desire that Bridges be dumped before election season returns.

If there is any failure of judgment on Bridges’ part, however, it is more evident on the part of Bridges’ detractors.

When it came to managing his way out of the kind of mess in which National is currently donkey-deep, Sir John Key unfailingly applied what he considered to be a golden rule: namely think hard about the counter-factual. In other words, assess what was likely to happen if a possible course of action was not taken.

The material leaked by Ross might have been of little significance. The act of leaking was another matter entirely. It was gross disloyalty on the part of the Botany MP and now ex-spokesman on transport and infrastructure matters.

That is something no leader can tolerate. It is something no caucus can tolerate. When the source of a leak remains unidentified, trust between caucus members inevitably suffers. The caucus cannot function properly. The freedom to discuss matters of crucial import to a political party is inevitably constrained by the fear that what is regarded as confidential will end up online or on the front pages of the following day’s newspapers.

Both Bridges and Ross have now made it patently obvious that the working relationship between National’s leader and his seventh-ranked MP had broken down completely since the former secured the party’s top job back in February.

Ross might have been No 7 in the caucus, but he was clearly No 1 on list of those suspected of possibly being the leaker.

Had Bridges taken the advice of his critics and chosen not to expose the source of the leak, he would have been pilloried by those same critics had Ross repeated the act of treachery.

Bridges would have been portrayed as weak. He would have been castigated as incompetent.

Bridges could not gamble on Ross not leaking again. Given Ross’s state of mind, the risks involved in doing nothing were exponentially increased.

Bridges would have realised that at some point he was going to have to confront Ross. To delay that day of reckoning was to damage both himself and the party.

As it is, Bridges is paying a price for simply doing what had to be done.

Voters will be wondering whether Ross was operating alone or in cahoots with others. They will wonder whether Bridges was being straight with them with his previous insistence that there was no connection between the leak investigation and Ross taking an extended leave of absence from Parliament for "personal health issues".

They will wonder whether this episode speaks of what life is really like in the National caucus and whether it is a veritable vipers’ nest of over-sized egos and over-inflated ambition united only by its members’ insatiable greed for power.

Above all, it will leave voters wondering just how robust is Bridges’ grip on the leadership.

The voters will not have to wonder where Ross now stands in all of this, however. He won’t have any standing. It is odds-on will be expelled from the caucus and will subsequently have his membership of the party rescinded by the board of the National Party very shortly thereafter.

Anything less punitive than that course of action would risk being interpreted by friend and foe alike as a vote of no confidence in Bridges.

National would then be looking for a new leader. While there is still much uncertainty as to how the following days might play out before this messy distraction has finally run its ugly course, that is one thing which is most definitely not going to happen.

Jessica Mutch McKay says Simon Bridges faces a "long, drawn out and embarrassing process to try and get rid of him". Source: 1 NEWS

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Four facing charges after massive illegal pāua bust

A massive illegal haul of pāua, mostly undersized, has been uncovered in Taranaki following an operation by the police and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Fishery officers and police discovered four people with a total of 736 pāua, 703 of which were undersized after they were stopped at a checkpoint.

A vehicle and a set net have been seized. They now face serious charges.

The Taranaki region has a lower minimum size for pāua because the shellfish are naturally small and never reach the minimum legal size that applies to the rest of the country.

Fishery officers have returned all of the shellfish to the sea.

rnz.co.nz

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Paua Source: rnz.co.nz


Kiwi and Aussie police dogs fighting it out to be crowned the best in Australasia

The trans-Tasman rivalry between New Zealand and Australia will hit another gear this week, with both nations' police dogs fighting it out for the title of Australasia's best.

New Zealand's Paw Blacks are looking to defend their title, with the Australian team in Wellington looking to pinch the Kiwi's crown.

However, for those in the industry, the competition is more about setting standards than trans-Tasman oneupmanship.

"It's around benchmarking we all work together very closely with the Australians so for each state and each dog section it's just seeing how we are and of course there's a friendly rivalry as well," NZ dog coordinator Todd Southall told 1 NEWS.

For the competition though, the Australians are looking to restore some pride, with the likes of the Kiwis and Silver Ferns claiming success over their arch rivals already this week.

"All we've coped since we got here is mentions of the sporting prowess of New Zealand at the moment so we are looking to maybe right that in some very small way," Australia's Craig Charles said.

The top dog will be revealed on Thursday night.

For the first time in 20 years New Zealand’s playing host to the trans-Tasman canine competition. Source: 1 NEWS


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