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Births, Deaths and Marriages Act - Legislative Reform

9 April 2019

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Are you aware of a comprehensive body of evidence pointing to alarmingly 
high suicide and self-harm rates amongst transgender adolescents as a 
result of the stigma and discrimination they face? Do you agree the law 
as it stands in Tasmania discriminates against transgender people, and 
this is why a majority of members across both houses of this parliament 
have voted to reform the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act? Have you 
ensured the amendment bill will be debated this week when it comes back 
from the other place to prevent further harm? Or can you confirm that 
extremists in your party room want to string out debate on the Births, 
Deaths and Marriages Amendment Bill for political purposes, pushing it as 
close as possible to the Legislative Council and federal elections in 
order to try to harm your political opponents? From here it looks like 
you are failing an already marginalised group of Tasmanians and the party 
you lead is prepared to exploit them for political purposes. How do you 
justify that?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I categorically 
reject the assertions and the implications contained within it. I am well 
aware of the tragic rates of suicide in our community. This Government 
has proposed and progressed a number of important reforms to ensure that 
vulnerable Tasmanians, whoever they may be, wherever they may be, are 
better supported. Our track record demonstrates our commitment.

This is legislation that has had many forms and has not yet even passed 
the third reading in the upper House so it would be presumptuous for the 
member who asks the question to presume or assume anything we may or may 
not do. We are the one party who cares about ensuring that the laws that 
this place passes are adequate, that they deliver positive outcomes, and 
that they do not have consequences that might be negative. It was well 
demonstrated that what was proposed by opposition parties was so off the 
mark and so risky that the Legislative Council has taken the drastic 
action they have to change it so significantly. It highlights that this 
is a complex area of law and there are many potential consequences of 
passing laws. Opposition members may be carefree about these matters, but 
it is important for this Government and the parliament to ensure that the 
laws we pass are positive in their outcome, not rushed, and are able to be 
scrutinised by experts.

Members opposite will claim to be experts in these areas. We sensibly 
suggested that the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute enquire into the 
proposed laws within a relatively short period of time. We want these 
matters to be properly and independently investigated. We have strong 
concerns about the impact that these laws will have. They will be debated 
in due course and I reject any suggestion that this Government is taking 
the action as described by the Leader of the Greens.