Professor David Goodall, Australia's Oldest Working Scientist
With an Exit Member number of #1848, David Goodall has been a member of Exit longer than most people.
Well organised to the end, he thought he had his plans in place. However, it seems that David’s advanced age has finally caught up with him.
At work in the 1950s.
Very recently he has realised that things were not going to be as easy as he anticipated. He is now left with little alternative other than to travel to Switzerland.
With the cooperation of the good people at Life Circle in Basel, Exit has been able to organise a fast-track for David.
He will be accompanied by his long-time friend and Exit's West Australian Coordinator, Carol O’Neil.
Carol and David plan to leave Perth for Basel in early May.
Carol & David at an Exit workshop in 2016
A pathetic state of affairs? You bet!
Especially given West Australia is currently considering the introduction of a voluntary euthanasia law; a law which the West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has said would not help a person like David Goodall who is not sick.
Elder abuse? Quite possibly.
Age discrimination? Absolutely.
Who is David Goodall?
Born in London in 1914, Professor Goodall is an eminent botanist and ecologist. A graduate of Imperial College of Science and Technology (University of London) where he received his PhD in 1941, David came to Australia in 1948 to take up a lecturing position at the University of Melbourne .
David was awarded a Doctor of Science from Melbourne University as well as an honorary doctorate from the Università degli Studí di Trieste in Italy. He held a range of academic positions in the UK, US and Australia (CSIRO ) before retiring in 1979.
After his retirement, he edited the 30 volume series of Ecosystems of the World with over 500 authors.
David with his edited series: Ecosystems of the World
At 103, David travelled by gyrocopter to the remote Kimberley station (Kachana) near to Kununurra to visit the eco sustained cattle station of Chris and Jacqueline Henggeler.
At Kachana, David was back 'in the field' courtesy of the station's tractor service.
David will be remembered for the burst of media in 2016 that followed the decision by Edith Cowan University to take away his office.
See: ABC News
The University argued the working scientist was a safety risk to himself and others.
In response to this unwelcome age discrimination, David went public and the University acquiesced, eventually providing him with an alternative, ground floor office closer to home.
See: BBC News & BBC World Service (audio)
WHAT NEXT FOR DAVID?
Having celebrated his 104th birthday in early April, David has decided wow is the time to go. Indeed, if his plans had gone accordingly, this birthday would not have happened and he would not be in the dilemma he now finds himself.
David on his 104th Birthday (4 April 2018, in Perth). His birthday cake was a cheesecake, his favourite.
It is just crazy that at the very time the West Australian Parliament has a committee inquiry to determine if their State should pass a voluntary euthanasia/ assisted suicide law, that one of its oldest and prominent citizens should be forced to travel to the other side of the world to die with dignity.
David receiving his Order of Australia in 2016
As if to add insult to injury, the West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has now pre-empted the Committee’s findings stating that the WA Parliament will only consider a law for the terminally ill.
Of course the Premier has added that he feels ‘sympathy’ for David’s plight.
The calculated politics of the Mr McGowan’s remarks are breath-taking, although hardly surprising since Mr McGowan’s reported mentor is Kim Beazley.
Kim Beazley is well remembered for banding together with then Prime Minister John Howard, to overturn the Northern Territory’s Rights of the Terminally Ill Act in 1997.
Be that as it may, rarely in living memory can one recall a senior citizen being treated with such disdain and even contempt by a Premier of the day.
The situation of Professor Goodall drives home the absolute limited value of an end of life law that is based solely upon a person’s health status.
As Dr Philip Nitschke argued in his presentation to the WA Parliamentary Committee in April, it is totally unacceptable for a law to discriminate between the sick and everyone else.
All rational adults deserve a peaceful death at a time of their choosing.
Forcing the ‘well’ elderly to travel overseas is exporting a problem, rather than addressing a growing social need. Shame!
David Goodall is a life-long economy class flier.
To do otherwise offends his egalitarian sensibility.
On this occasion, Dr Philip Nitschke has convinced David to upgrade.
It is a very long way from Perth Australia to Basel Switzerland at any age, especially104!
Philip says he doesn't want the stress of the flight to kill him.
Exit will be reporting on David's journey to Switzerland in the coming days and weeks.
Thank you in advance for your support.
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