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Premier – Conversion Practices

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 5 June 2023

Tags: LGBTI, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - I want to talk to you about conversion practices and acknowledge up front your personal commitment to this reform. On 17 May it was a year since the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute released its report which recommended a prohibition on harmful conversion practices. It's a year later. On 5 June, are you personally committed to this reform? When do you think we will see draft legislation? Do you think it will be a Government bill or a private member's bill?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Of course, we want Tasmania to be a place where everyone feels supported, valued and encouraged to be the best they can be. I've said that a number of times. I've considered the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute's report. I have met personally with people who have been subjected to conversion practices in the past. I've always acknowledged the harm and distress that these practices have cause and I do so again today.

I am, of course, aware that other jurisdictions have introduced various laws in relation to this matter. This is precisely why the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute has looked into this matter to consider options and areas that might need review in terms of our laws. Their report is very extensive, as you know.

It is a complex matter and it is important that we get this right. The departments of Health and Justice have been undertaking policy analysis to properly evaluate the TLRI's recommendations and provide further advice to the Government around reform. We will make those decisions on the basis of expert advice and best practice.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I ask for more detail there? When you say 'make those decisions', what sort of decisions are you talking about? Because you've committed to the reform.

Mr ROCKLIFF -Commitment to reform.

Ms O'CONNOR - But I thought your Government or you had decided that this reform would be implemented.


Ms O'CONNOR - So what decisions do you have to make?

Mr ROCKLIFF - The decisions of the aspects of the legislation. So, there is the ban need. But there is also the need, in a policy and legislative sense, to ensure that we're not impinging on people's rights to freedom of speech and prayer, and those matters that have been raised by others in the community.

Ms O'CONNOR - More recently on radio you said:

I remain committed to banning that practice, but we want to make sure that, of course, people have the opportunity of making sure that freedom of speech is protected, and the churches' right to pray and all those matters that seem to be concerning some people in the community.

What do you mean by this? Are you suggesting that, for example, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) will have an influence on the form of that legislation?

Mr ROCKLIFF - They would have a right, like every other Tasmanian, to comment on it when it's out for draft consultation.

Ms OCONNOR - But what do you mean by that statement you made on radio? Are you flagging a sort of weaker ban on conversion practices that would still allow some churches to try to 'pray the gay away'?

Mr ROCKLIFF - No, I wouldn't put it that way at all. I have committed to the banning off conversion practices. I remain committed to the banning of conversion practices. I want to ensure that in that ban we're not impinging on people's right to freedom of speech, for example. I know that's been a key concern of a number of people in the community,

Ms O'CONNOR - I think your diary says you had a meeting with the Australian Christian Lobby?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I did. You read my diary, in an open and transparent manner.

Ms O'CONNOR - It's very good to see the diaries become public. But, in that meeting with the ACL - which I don't think reflects the churches more broadly - did you make it clear to them that you didn't believe that you can pray the gay away? And did you make it clear to them that attempting to convert someone to not being who they are, is harmful? Or did you just sit and listen to their concerns?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I don't want to talk about private meetings I've had with individuals in terms of what is said -

Ms O'CONNOR - What about what you said?

Mr ROCKLIFF - because of privacy. We had some robust discussions. You'd be well aware of the leaflets with my head on them that have been put in mailboxes. That didn't sit well with me and I made my feelings known, as you'd expect me to do.

Ms O'CONNOR - A final question on this line. Given the difficulties you have within your Cabinet, and now minority; and that at least one of the members who defected is concerned about the ban on conversion practices, because she's very conservative; are you prepared to push this reform through as a private member's bill?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I want to come good on my commitment.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's right. So, what you going to do about it?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I haven't made a decision with respect to that matter, but I would like to present a Government bill. That would be my aim.

Ms O'Connor - This year?

Mr ROCKLIFF - In this term of parliament. I'm not pushing it away. I'm very mindful of the fact that I've been open with Advocates for Change, that I'm still committed to reform, but -

Ms O'Connor - But you don't want to blow up your Government over it?

Mr ROCKLIFF - No, that's not what I was going to say.

Ms O'Connor - Sorry. I was just trying to be helpful.

Mr ROCKLIFF - There are a lot of competing interests.

Ms WHITE - You haven't tabled legislation at a rapid rate. You've barely tabled any.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Well, that's another matter. But I can assure you, Ms O'Connor, that I am committed to reform in this term of parliament. I've done some work on this. I've met with a number of stakeholders from both sides of the debate, and I am committed to reform.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you.