Last Cab To Darwin True Story: Reg Cribb’s 2003 Australian drama/comedy stage production Last Cab to Darwin is based on the true storey of cab driver Max Bell, who was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer in the early 1990s and died a few months later. The Octagon Theatre in Perth and the Sydney Opera House both hosted performances of the 2003 production.
Rex resolves to take his own life with dignity in the Northern Territory, taking advantage of the controversial Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995, which was passed in 1995.
However, despite the fact that the legality of his request is in dispute, Rex sells everything he owns, says goodbye to his neighbor and good friend Polly, and drives the long distance from Broken Hill, New South Wales, to Darwin, Northern Territory, where it would be legal for him to commit suicide.
This month, the Australian film Last Cab to Darwin is being screened in theatres all around the country. Max Bell, a terminally sick cab driver from the New South Wales town of Broken Hill, drove himself almost 3000 km to Darwin in 1996 to take advantage of a new rule that made euthanasia legal in the Northern Territory. The novel is mainly based on Bell’s experiences.
On the surface, the film’s release in New Zealand appears to be opportune. Because of the death of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales in June, and because of the arguments around euthanasia that have been sparked by her High Court petition seeking the legal right to die, the themes in Last Cab to Darwin are particularly relevant at this time.
In stark contrast to the attitudes of politicians, the medical establishment, and our ever-life-affirming religious communities, widespread public support for Seales was demonstrated. Despite the fact that the vast majority of New Zealanders support voluntary assisted suicide for the terminally sick, our institutions have failed us. It is a travesty of democratic principles.
To begin, the storey begins in 1996 with a Broken Hill taxi driver named Max Bell who traveled 3,000 kilometers to Darwin with the sole purpose of dying in a car accident. He had untreatable stomach cancer and was in a lot of discomforts, and he thought that the Northern Territory would provide him with a cure.
Due to the fact that euthanasia was permitted in the Top End for a small period of time, and because it was not lawful in New South Wales, Bell was forced to travel for weeks in order to find someone who could assist her. Doctor Philip Nitschke, who was then as now a supporter of euthanasia and the only one who was willing to put his reputation as well as his medical licence on the line, was approached by the patient. In the end, the journey was a waste of time.
To comply with state legislation, two additional doctors were required to be identified in order to vouch for both the veracity of the diagnosis and the sanity of the patient, but no one was ready to step forward. A few months later, Bell died after suffering a horrible and prolonged death in his home country of Canada.
A play based on the case was written by Reg Cribb in the early 2000s and won the 2003 WA Premier and Queensland Premier Awards, as well as being nominated for the Victorian and New South Wales Premier Awards.