Tasmanian Times

Bronwyn Williams

Labor and the Greens ‘Win’, But Democracy Loses

Sue Hickey ... from her website

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.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Rob Halton

    November 23, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Without doubt this will be Hickey’s greatest challenge to convince the public this radical trans minority group deserve radical change when all that is required for parents’ consent if under the age of 16 yrs, the person can apply for reregistration of sex which must state the transformation agenda to clearly show either male to female or vica versa by way of official documentation of tracking ones identity. Example, male to female or Female to male.

    This still does not mean transgenders will be by law or morally allowed to use facilities or occupy those of the opposite sex.

    The problem for the forefrontal expose of the Hickey initiative is the legal and moral implications beyond the birth certificate and other legal documents tracking ones transformation course.

    There is only so much Hickey can do to assist the process, its up to the tranformer groups to comply to reasonable official and moral agenda and make sure it works within society.

    There must be no hidden case history agenda of sex change as it would only complicate an identity crisis for individuals throughout their lives.

    There is no such thing as non gender identity!

  2. davies

    November 23, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    If the coverage is accurate then this is a Marxist dream. You will need to opt-in to include a gender on your child’s birth certificate.

    And it looks like the anti-discrimination laws will be expanded to include ‘gender expression’. This means you’ll need to use the correct names, pronouns and titles of transgender people.

    That is compelled speech. I will not comply.

  3. Ron

    November 22, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    What a load of twaddle. Same group of whining feminists with a grudge against anything male, or even partially male it seems, and it appears you completely ignore “females” with trans issues … and those humans with indeterminate gender at birth. How CRUEL!

    All Hickey did was give a minuscule group of people hope that they will have the opportunity to have a bit of privacy and equality, and all you pack of simpering man-haters can do is turn it into a “feminist” issue.

    I have despised Hickey for her own “male, pale and stale” misandry in the past but, on this issue, I am 100% behind her.

    You are a despicable minority which professes to represent women in general .. when you don’t, and you should hang your heads in shame.

  4. Claire Gilmour

    November 21, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    The year is 2087 and a group of transgenders, together with natural birthright gender advocates, are suing the multi-national pharmaceuticals and government for un-naturally changing their gender and taking away their natural birth gender and natural planetary rights …

    I ask people … is taking away an unborn child’s rights to their natural gender what you thought you were doing when you were agreeing to the rainbow on same sex marriage?

    People should be highly concerned. This legislation will affect your unborn children and grandchildren.

    Without proper legal scrutiny it will have long lasting effects on where you child/grandchild can travel, work and marry, as well as potentially harm women’s rights in general. It is ad hoc.

    Shadow Attorney General, Ella Haddad said … “The amendments protect the rights of people who need it and will in no way diminish the rights of others. The changes will have no effect on the vast majority of people … ”

    Absolute rubbish! You are taking away the rights of children before they are even born.

    You are expecting them to be an X marks the spot, and without proper scrutiny in legislation make them prove they even have a gender. How are you going to make them do that in the future?

    “To us, this was always about giving a choice in the gender they have printed on their birth certificate”.

    At what point/age will the child /person have a choice to choose?

    Surely this is/should be a national/federal government- reviewed legislation rather than a state based one! It’s way too complex to be a rushed through Tasmanian Parliament.

    Lola, the real agenda here is ..

    The Greens’ preference is for monocultures, just like their preference for monoculture plantations where everybody has to be the same .. all little plastic people in the same plastic bubble. The Greens are losing the concept of diversity.

    I thought the rainbow idea represented in society being accepting and inclusive was to support diversity – NOT to make people all the same from birth by taking away their right to be identified as unique in their gender.

    Obviously the Tasmanian Greens’ party has become Cassy’s own personal agenda party.

    It’s like waves crashing on a sand bank protecting a cove. Just because I like doing boy stuff over girl stuff does not mean I am male, and visa versa.

    Sexual orientation is completely different to what one’s gender is. Are we all to be made into a worm, ie have both sexes?

    The best that could happen is that the gender-changing drugs in our foods will slow population growth. The worst that could happen is that the gender changing drugs will change biology to the point that both men and women can give birth, thereby increasing population to catastrophic levels within decades.

    The year is 2087 and a group of transgenders, together with natural birthright gender advocates, are suing the multi-national pharmaceuticals and government for un-naturally changing their gender and taking away their natural birth gender and natural planetary rights …

  5. Fern

    November 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Erasure of 2 generations of women’s liberation.
    Erasure of women’s voices.
    Erasure of our sex-based realities.
    This is Orwellian dystopian futures .. emerging as we speak.
    The violence against those who dare question the insanity is big brother, fearsome violence.

  6. Rob Halton

    November 21, 2018 at 3:46 pm

    Oh and by the way Sue beside the public Transphobia that will now result from your brain snap collusion with inept Labor and their latent Green partners, there are far more important aspects of respecting the public at large as you almost got there with public Health recently but did not continue along with Minister Ferguson to shake up the failing State system.

    One thing you could do is to at least advance the takeover of the remaining Hobart Showgrounds site so there is a reasonable opportunity for an annexe to the crowded Royal Hobart hospital rebuild to be available for the myriad of health tasks that the crowded city cannot possibly provide.

    There is nowhere for mental health client to go, on the streets, couch surfing, public nuisances, crime, prison or abusive and inadequate or abusive privatised care. Please give these people a place where care is available!

    Dont forget that your nervous understudy in politics Mr Hodgman is spouting population growth and with a “booming State economy” ,this being the case then take my constructive comment to the next level to provide sufficiently for public health sufficiency within the south of the State.

    The Showgrounds would provide us with a greenfield site, the Bunnings establishment would not impact that much on the remaining area, buying up those old 1950’s weather board dwellings alongside the Elwick road boundary would make the showgrounds as a premium site.

    Please address the range of public health issues emerging, now that we have hopefully got rid of the niggling Trans wretches!

  7. Lola Moth

    November 21, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    Those supporting these changes are wanting men to subsume the sexual identities of women so that actual biological women cease to exist. Is that the real agenda here?

  8. Rob Halton

    November 21, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    This is Hickeys revenge for the Liberal party for not giving her a senior role as a Minister with a responsibility to the people of Tasmania.

    Hodgman and Abetz are so scared of her, what will she do next and dont be surprised we know is quite capable of rolling Hodgman head over heels as well as bringing down the government.

    If you dont believe me, wait and see!

    I continue to support Women Speak Tasmania, pity help any of these trans misfits sneaking into women’s spaces it could be quite vicious!

    Now, Ms Hickey can we now move onto Public Health which far outweighs the nonsense that the Trans clowns stirred up.

  9. bystander in violence prevention

    November 21, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Does Tasmania work for women? Where did the Office of the Status of Women go? Also, what happened to the Working Women’s Centre where women could obtain advice on industrial matters?

    What are the implications of the United Nations Security resolution #1,325 for women in Tasmania? The resolution requires the participation of women at all levels of society to ensure conflict prevention and also the resolution of conflict so that the voices of women are heard and acted upon. Australia is a signatory to this resolution as well as to the Convention to ensure the end to all forms of discrimination against women and girls. How can we ensure community well-being based upon women’s participation, protection and rights for the issue currently before the Tasmanian parliament?

    How is it that Australia spends more on military hardware, yet we women in Tasmania have had to go without an Office of the Status of Women, a Working Women’s Centre, and also that the Women’s Legal Service had to fight hard for continuation of its funding?

    The macro picture is that business as usual contaminates peace by infusing patriarchy. Why not have an international day to prevent violence against women every day, not just on November 27th? Why not have an international day of the girl child every day?

    Top down, gender blind analysis where women’s needs are invisible are obstacles to the inclusion and voices of civil society.

    How did we get to this debacle in Tasmania where we moved from a shared concern to addressing literacy in Tasmania and access to good health and education as well as women’s equality and right to live free from violence?

    Making birth certificates “gender neutral” in Tasmania may not help mothers or babies. The proposed changes are gender blind.

    For example, Tasmania’s innovative Safe at Home laws can provide protection and intervention for women and babies. We already know that a woman can be vulnerable to control from a male partner throughout pregnancy, with the time around birth and when she cares for a baby away from the paid workforce a time of potential heightened vulnerability. These are key times when the woman and baby require protection. What is to stop an abusive man from undermining his partner via the birth certificate where “parental choice” is just another opportunity for him to exercise control?

    A newborn baby needs care and protection with bonding being a two-way process. Kind and skilful midwives usually help at the start when they hand the new born baby to the mother, saying “Congratulations Sally, you have a beautiful baby girl” or “Congratulations Wendy, you have a beautiful baby boy.”

    Yes, fathers are important if he is in the picture, and hopefully supportive of Mum, and so is vitally important as a protector of her and the baby.

    This is not to denigrate other family structures.

    A newborn baby requires a clear identity document because newly born babies have not yet learned to talk and to stand up for themselves as they have not yet reached this developmental milestone. There are no unions for babies. The best we have is Safe at Home, Nursing mothers, Child Health Associations and trusted bodies such as the CWA! As well as an empowered mother within a caring family and community .. most of all. Mothers clearly matter! Birth, breastfeeding and bonding are not gender neutral events!

    What are our obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child? Will Tasmania’s new Children’s Commissioner have an opportunity to consult with the community and especially with women about the proposed changes? Will she be able to advocate for the protection of children so that each child has a clear identity document as a right?

    Surely Wendy and Sally will have enough to do, especially if she is a sole parent, in bonding with her new baby, recovering from the birth and the effort of labour and delivery, establishing breastfeeding if she wants to do this, applying for parenting payments, worrying about her rent and other children at home. Surely having to opt in and apply on another form to have the baby’s biological sexual identity recorded on the birth certificate is yet another barrier for a new mother?

    What are the child protection implications of “gender neutral” birth certificates? Beware Tasmania – child exploitation and trafficking of children and babies is something to guard against. A newborn baby requires a clear and unambiguous identity marker. This is not being alarmist.

    Conception, Pregnancy, labour and childbirth are not gender neutral events, nor is the result. Some biological sex differences are real, and not just determined by feelings or ideology.

    Surely it would help to separate the mother/baby dyad issues from issues pertaining to adolescent gender identity issues for a start.

    Have a separate conversation about adolescents.

    Have a separate conversation about adult transgender issues relevant to their preferred partnership.

    I agree with Bronwyn and Isla that it could be most helpful to refer a complex issue to the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission. To date there has been no community consultation. It is not the same issue as gay marriage reform which was widely supported as an issue for adults, and how they identify and wish to identify, in their preferred relationship.

  10. Isla MacGregor

    November 21, 2018 at 10:32 am

    All legislation requires a risk assessment to ensure that not more harm is done than good .. in this case to girls and women.

    This is the big question that needs to be put to the Legislative Council before it debates these misguided and poorly drafted legislative reforms.

    For those outraged by this abuse of democratic process and denial of the public right to know … get onto your Leg Co members asap.

  11. elk

    November 21, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I hope that Sue Hickey will vote against the Liberals’ nasty and corrupt upcoming legislation which proposes giving free poker machine licences to clubs and pubs.

    When she was the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Sue did not believe it an HCC issue to intervene in social issues like reducing harm from poker machine addiction, but ironically Sue Hickey is now actually intervening in social issues like changes to birth certificate Acts, so time will tell if Sue is going to obey their Liberals’ master, the Federal Group!

    • Leon Russo

      November 23, 2018 at 12:44 am

      Thank you ‘elk’.
      Yours is the first completely sensible letter on this page.
      I am consistently surprised at individuals’ inability to assess a situation, and then construct a coherent response.

      The degree to which some people feel they have a need to, or in Abetz’s case a right to, concern themselves with other people’s genitals is mind-boggling.

      To those who are ‘affected’ by Sue Hickey’s ‘treason’ …

      Yes, I do understand the issue.
      Yes, I do understand your point of view and your privilege to hold it.
      No one is ‘taking your rights away’, nor imposing any obligation or conditions on you.
      No one is bothering you.
      This has nothing to do with you.

      Any problems you feel here are your own fantasy.
      Someone else’s genitals are none of your concern.
      Stop making someone else’s private business your own personal drama.
      I suggest you mind your own business.

      End of story.
      Wake up.
      Get a life.

      (To my friends here – you know it’s never personal.)

  12. Robert Rands

    November 21, 2018 at 9:46 am

    This legislation goes to the upper house for review. I wonder if the authors are as keen on lobbying upper house members as they are on cobbling up a story of democratic outrage for Tasmanian Times.

  13. John Hawkins

    November 21, 2018 at 8:58 am

    You state “Make no mistake, democracy was abused in the Tasmanian parliament this week.”

    This Parliament sits courtesy of Poker Machine profits that bought the election for the Liberals.

    That is the real abuse of democracy … but who actually cares?

    • Mary

      November 22, 2018 at 11:43 pm

      Not Andrew Wilkie, that’s for sure!

  14. Wendy

    November 21, 2018 at 8:14 am

    Wow, I’m shocked! My belief is that this change will give everyone a choice, something I thought was freedom and equality in our democratic world. Equality for all.

    • Isla MacGregor

      November 21, 2018 at 10:25 am

      This legislation has been promoted as supporting ‘inclusivity’

      I know many women, mothers and daughters who are going to ‘self exclude’ as a result of this legislation.

      How can anyone call that equality .. threats, bullying, intimidation and denial of girls’ and women’s human rights to safe, single-sex facilities and organisations?

  15. Melissa

    November 21, 2018 at 7:48 am

    I work with vulnerable people every day, and I’ve been watching the imposition of self-ID into our law with disbelief through knowing the unintended consequences that have and will result. It is a class concern, seeking to validate the imaginary by enforcing it through policy no matter what the cost on the ground.

    If womanhood is nothing more than a feeling and a Statutory Declaration then every sex-based protection that we have is gone.

  16. Chris

    November 21, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Does the cancer advisor, one Erica, approve of this change?

  17. Lola Moth

    November 21, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Perhaps the general population, which is against these changes to sex on birth certificates, can all go to Births, Deaths and Marriages on the same day to ask for the paperwork in order to change their own identities.

    Isla, is there any way besides FB to contact Women Speak Tasmania? I want to get involved but FB is something I refuse to use.

    • Melissa

      November 21, 2018 at 9:30 am

      I would like to be in on this too, please.

      • Isla MacGregor

        November 21, 2018 at 10:27 am

        As mentioned in my response to Lola Melissa … check out our About section on our Facebook page and email TT’s editor to forward your contact details to me.

        Due to the online abuse we receive from trans-rights activists, we will not post our contact details here.

    • Isla MacGregor

      November 21, 2018 at 10:22 am

      Hi Lola,

      Have you checked out the About section on our Facebook page? It reveals the broad aims of our network.

      Just send an email to TT editor, ask him to forward it to me, and I will ring you straight away.

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