6. Palliative care is excellent, but it can't help everyone

Australia has one of the best palliative care systems in the world. However, it is a fact that it can't help everyone. In Palliative Care Australia's own words "even with optimal care not all pain and suffering can be relieved".

By their own estimates, the number of people truly beyond their help is about 4%. Their suffering, as recorded in evidence to the parliamentary inquiries, can be savage.

This is no criticism. It simply reflects the reality of modern medicine, which can keep us alive longer but which still has no cure for diseases like cancer and Motor Neurone Disease.

In the words of the 'father' of Australian palliative care, Professor Ian Maddocks: "If compassionate and loving care towards patients and families is what palliative care is all about then assisted dying is part of that. It is time the profession dealt with it".

The question is: why should those who palliative care can't help, be left to suffer when we have the means to help them?