South Australian State Premier Mike Rann wants to abolish the upper house – and got a big boost yesterday from his target when the Legislative Council voted to expunge a speech by Australian Democrat MLC Sandra Kanck on suicide techniques from the online Hansard.

Rann says the Council has “become a kind of a circus for political point scoring”. If that’s the case, Kanck is happy to be the lead clown. Her contribution this week follows comments on ecstasy use that made national headlines earlier in the year. Kanck has announced that this is her last term. Many of the hopelessly divided state Democrats hope that she will stand down before the next election.

Kanck, however, seems to be on a kamikaze mission. She has inflicted significant damage on the Council and its power to act. A move in the upper house to bring South Australian laws on same s-x couples into line with other states – a step resisted by local Labor Catholic conservative godfathers in the Shoppies – sponsored by the Liberals, the Greens and the Democrats is now in trouble.

Kanck has placed the Council in the position where it has been forced to censor itself. She has, in effect, diminished the powers of the Council. Mike Rann must be delighted. He’s described her comments as being “beyond stupidity”. Without his tongue in cheek – we hope – he called her speech in support of voluntary euthanasia as “a roadmap to suicide”.

Victims of suicide have our sympathy – but the perpetuators of murder/suicide earn a special kind of contempt. Sandra Kanck has damaged the institution of the South Australian Parliament in her political suicide – and a special kind of contempt is what she deserves.

Peter Fray

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