When we go to the ballot box and vote, we have an expectation that those we elect will at least try to represent our interests. We assume that any debate in parliament, particularly if the issue is contentious, will be as well-informed as it can possibly be.
On 20 November, we saw Labor and the Greens hijack a simple procedural legislative amendment and force through a suite of complex and very controversial legislative changes in the name of transgender law reform.
Informed debate on the floor of the house was deliberately stymied. Labor and the Greens refused to circulate their proposed amendments to other members until the very last minute.
Make no mistake, democracy was abused in the Tasmanian parliament this week. The opposition parties, with the support of the Government’s speaker, denied half our elected representatives the opportunity to consider and debate nine complex amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act and the Anti-discrimination Act’.
The amendments are so convoluted, we doubt those moving them on behalf of Labor and the Greens – Ella Haddad and Cassy O’Connor – fully understand their meaning and implications.
The contributions of Haddad and O’Connor were alarmingly short on persuasive analysis and long on unashamed emotive appeals to the better nature of the Tasmanian people.
Laws that supposedly make life easier for a ‘marginalised’ group aren’t, for that reason alone, ‘good’ laws. They still require proper, informed debate and that didn’t happen in the Tasmanian lower house on 20 November’.
Ms Haddad, in her contribution, said – ‘These changes will have zero effect on the masses’. That’s how she describes the 99 plus per cent of the Tasmanian community that are not transgender. We’re the anonymous, undeserving ‘masses’. Could she be any more insulting and dismissive of the Tasmanian people?.
What would she say to the woman who has just given birth to a stillborn female child and who won’t automatically receive a birth certificate that attests to the precious, but forever lost, mother-daughter relationship with her child?’
Or, more practically, will she assist a family travelling to a country that requires sex markers on passports to guarantee entry when their children have genderless primary identification documents, by default. Passports rely on birth certificates for identifying information. Will Ms Haddad fill out the forms to put a sex marker on the children’s birth certificates, pay the fees and fast track the applications if they need to travel urgently?.
It’s nonsense to say sex markers on birth certificates mean nothing to most people.
Women Speak Tasmania fully supported the Attorney-General’s referral of Labor and the Greens’ amendments to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute. The indecent haste and political gamesmanship that saw them fast-tracked through the lower house will surely generate an unwelcome backlash in the wider community.
Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker
Isla MacGregor lives in Tasmania and is concerned about the ethical conduct of and collusion between Government and corporations in Tasmania.
Women Speak Tasmania is a network of women and their supporters based in Tasmania. We operate as a secular group. We are not aligned with any political party or ideology. We share research and information on a broad range of women’s rights issues. These include – female only spaces, services, groups and facilities; the sexualisation of girls and women; pornography/prostitution and the harms of the global sex trade; surrogacy as a violation of women’s human rights; and ending male violence against girls and women. We understand that sex-based oppression affects all women, and underlies all abuses of female rights. We support the right of women to speak freely about the inequities and discrimination they experience. We aim to give a voice to girls and women in the pursuit of justice, peace and security. We support full autonomy and personal freedom for all women.