Statutes amendment (gender identity and equity) bill

In Parliament - Thursday 25 February 2016

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (16:09:00): I also rise to make a few comments in relation to the Statutes Amendment (Gender Identity and Equity) Bill 2016. I was not necessarily going to speak on this bill, but the member for Reynell convinced me of the merits of making a small contribution. I sort of agree with the majority of speakers who have been addressing the chamber on this bill. There is a lot of merit in the concept that the law should not discriminate and that everyone should be treated equally before the law.

The member for Kaurna, in his contribution, was referring to previous speakers talking about change rooms and the like. I am not sure if the member for Kaurna was at the briefing held recently, but I will put it to the house that there was no sandwich lunch provided which made it a lot more difficult for me to participate in because my blood sugar levels were a bit low. Some of the members did talk about the slippery slope and what this did mean for those people who, for whatever reason, would seek to exploit loopholes in these amendments and for whatever reason would want to use some of the changes in terminology to be a peeping tom and go into change rooms and claim gender identity as an issue.To that extent, I think it is an important matter that was raised yesterday by the member for Hammond, and perhaps the member for Schubert, because in a lot of legislation that we do pass there are some unintended consequences, so I think that was a very worthwhile contribution. I think, as we were seeing with some of the other legislation we have debated last week here around parenting presumptions and the like, there is, of course, unintended consequences in much of the legislation that we pass.

As to the bill itself, like I said, I am comfortable with the majority of amendments across the board. Of course, there is possibly, on this side of the house, some members who might have an issue when it comes to gender balance for nominations appointed to boards. I would argue, as most on this side of the house would argue, that gender and how you define yourself, whether it be male, female, intersex or any other terminology, has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to serve on a board.

Indeed, serving on a government board, just like serving this house, should be on merit, and I know that absolutely every single member of this house has got here on merit, notwithstanding quotas on the other side of the house where safe seats have to go to old, white union members—but I digress.

Merit should always be the basis for appointments to boards in that respect. I would love to see discussion around that in terms of merit being one of the most overarching principles that we should have in any of our legislation.

Some members yesterday—and I am sure across the debate and in the committee stage—were also talking about the amendments to the Correctional Services Act 1982 where someone who is subject to that act might use gender as a reason not to be searched, but I am sure common sense will prevail when it comes to the application of that bit of law to ensure that all is undertaken in a practical way.

It is funny how the world has changed over the last 100 years or so. One of my constituents has recently given me a book on Tom Price who was, of course, Labor's first premier in this state. I was just reading the opening of the biography on Tom Price talking about the penal system that was in Liverpool in the 1850s and 1860s. Dare I say that there was no choice for who was giving you the search in the 1860s within the British penal system.

My office has already received a fair amount of correspondence around the issue of the amendments that seek to remove the word 'woman' when it relates to pregnancy. As the Premier indicated, it is an amendment which probably is not required. I think we all know, regardless of how one identifies, that it is ultimately women who are the ones who are involved with childbirth, and as the member for Schubert alluded to yesterday, he certainly would not ever be able to deal with childbirth.

In yesterday's debate, I was disappointed with the personal nature which some members went into. I thought, by and large, it was a very civil and mature debate, but I felt that the member for Colton did get slightly carried away with some of the words that he used with regard to those on this side of the debate. The member for Colton got very liberal in his language. He spoke about the need for liberties and civil rights, and how those on my side of the house quite often talk about economic responsibility and the rights and responsibilities of the individual—and rightly so.

The member for Colton then continued to chastise those members on my side of the house who, on a conscience matter, do not necessarily support all amendments and all parts of this bill. It dawned on me that while those who come from the left—and I think the member for Colton will not take any offence when I say he is a good old-fashioned lefty—talk about individuals having the right to choose, the Labor Party (and especially those in the hard left), never allow the right to choose.

I was reminded about that this week when I popped down to the Adelaide University for O'Week. I was reminded of the member for Kaurna, who of course was heavily involved in student politics back in his day. The Adelaide University Liberal Club, in their O'Week stall, had a wonderful little sticker which I have put on the back of my deputy whip folder, which says 'I Love VSU'. I know the member for Morialta in his heyday was a strong supporter of VSU and the right to choose.

When we debate in this house, it never ceases to amaze me how we cherrypick when we want to be libertarians, we cherrypick when we want to be conservatives, and we cherrypick when the debate suits us.

Mr Picton: That's right, you do cherrypick!

Mr DULUK: I don't cherrypick; I just merely sometimes represent different views of my constituency. I never, ever cherrypick. But, in the member for Colton's contribution yesterday, he was having a go at people on this side of the house who would choose differently—

Mr Gardner: And on his own side.

Mr DULUK: Well, the irony was that the very wise whip of this house, who spoke immediately after the member for Colton, probably did not agree with any of his contribution. The member for Colton had a go at people's right to choose. He did talk about how the law should not discriminate, and I certainly hold and share his views there—but when it comes to union membership, we certainly see that there is no right to choose on that side of the house.

One thing I do like about this piece of legislation is that it is actually removing discrimination in wording and legislation. Many of us in this house enjoy politics, so just before I went to sleep last night I was watching a replay of yesterday's question time in the Senate, looking for some inspiration. There was a very good question from Senator Lindgren, who is the new Indigenous senator for the LNP in Queensland. Senator Lindgren asked a question to minister Cash on the role of inappropriate language used by the CFMEU on worksites. For the sake of this house, I will not use the language that Senator Cash used in the Senate, because—

Mr Gardner: In her quotes!

Mr DULUK: In her quotes—because the President of the Senate ruled that to be unparliamentary; therefore, I assume the Deputy Speaker would also use that language. But, to say the least—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Aren't I one of those 'good old-fashioned lefties' too?

Mr DULUK: I am not prepared to test the ruling of the Deputy Speaker because—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, don't.

Mr DULUK: —you are all wise, Deputy Speaker. This was in relation to evidence tendered to the trade union royal commission. The language used by the CFMEU officials, when it comes to gender-inappropriate language, was absolutely incredible. I do commend those on this side of the house, and I also commend the member for Reynell for introducing this legislation and having the carriage of this legislation. Truly, if the Labor Party was serious about this bill and removing gender discrimination then it would not take a single dollar from the CFMEU, a union that pretty much has a blokey attitude, as the education minister agrees, a very blokey attitude. I saw you nodding your head.

Members interjecting:

Mr DULUK: You do not believe there is a blokey attitude in the CFMEU?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! You are speaking to me, member for Davenport.

Mr DULUK: Sorry, Deputy Speaker. The blokey and sexist attitude of the militant wing of the CFMEU, which is one of the largest donors to the Labor Party. So, on the one hand, we have legislation—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Now we know why you stayed up late.

Mr DULUK: It is a crazy life. On the one hand, we have legislation in this house which is looking to remove gender inequality, gender discrimination, and on the other hand, from the same party that moves this legislation and has this agenda, we have one of the biggest financial donors to the Labor Party which will never ever change its culture. It is a militant union. Historically, it has not supported workers of other nationalities on the basis that it takes so-called local jobs. If you look at the history of the CFMEU there is no doubt about that, and I think the history of the CFMEU (it started as the BLF)—

Members interjecting:

Mr DULUK: It is the price you get for asking me to speak, I suppose—is coming along—

Members interjecting:

Mr DULUK: I merely bring to the attention of the house the inconsistency within the Labor Party on—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think we need to get back to the substance of the debate, which is about gender inequity.

Mr DULUK: I think we are talking about gender inequity.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: We have been really patient. I do not want a history on other things. Let us get right back to the point.

Mr DULUK: Thank you, Deputy Speaker, for bringing me back to the point. I suppose this bill is about doing what we can do to remove discrimination on the basis of gender in our jurisdiction. It is one thing to bring in legislation, it is another thing to make sure the legislation receives (in public) the endorsement and the intent of that legislation. Perhaps the best thing we can do in supporting this legislation, in removing discrimination from our statutes, is to ensure that in our workplaces we do not have this type of discrimination.

I would definitely call the building site a workplace for many Australians. It would be wonderful to see, at the national conference—because I do watch the Labor Party national conference when it is beamed live on ABC24 on a Saturday—the member for Reynell get up there and champion what she is championing, because I know she is a very passionate—


Mr DULUK: —person on this issue, and also highlight some of the limitations of people in her own party. I commend the member for Reynell for bringing this bill to the house. I am going to enjoy the rest of the contributions from other members and I look forward to the committee stage.