The Tasmanian Commissioner for Children and Young People, Leanne McLean, in a recent email to the Legislative Council on changes to the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage Amendments) Bill 2018, stated she has not been ‘briefed or asked to comment on the Government Bill or the Bill as amended’.

Leanne McLean’s letter to the Legislative Council is an example of how little consultation Labor and the Greens have done on their proposed transgender law reforms in Tasmania.

The Children’s Commissioner’s office has a vital role in‘researching, investigating and influencing policy development in matters relating to children and young people generally’.

In performing her duties under the Act, the Commissioner is required to do so‘according to the principle that the wellbeing and best interests of children and young people are paramount’.

In the Commissioner’s email she raises questions‘about the practical operability of the bill and the subsequent impacts on children and young people’.

Importantly, the Commissioner is concerned about the removal of consideration of the ‘best interests of the child’.  She says –

‘Furthermore we must maintain a focus on the fundamental right of children and young people to have their best interests assessed and taken into account as a primary consideration in all actions and decisions that concern them….’

The Commissioner also recommends the bill includes –

‘a requirement that a child or young person undergo appropriate counselling as a precondition to an application to remove or change sex or gender information collected under the BDMR Act….’

It is very clear that all stake holders have not been consulted by Labor and the Greens in their rush to fast track transgender law reforms through the Lower House last year.

The Legislative Council must refer this issue to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute for a full and thorough inquiry that will enable the Tasmanian community and all stakeholders to have input.

The Commissioner’s letter is available online at https://www.childcomm.tas.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/Submissions-2018-11-29-Comment-Justice-and-Related-Legislation-Marriage-Amendments-Bill-2018-.pdf

Isla MacGregor is a women’s human rights and free speech advocate

Bronwyn Williams is a retired lawyer and social worker

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.

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