Published: 04 December 2018

Legislative Council Thursday 29 November, 2018

Ms  FORREST  (Murchison) - Mr President, I choose to use this lectern because the people to whom I want to speak are the people at the back of our Chamber.

Mr President, this has been a really difficult couple of weeks for all of us.  But our frustrations, difficulties and challenges are nothing at all compared to the people we are seeking to assist.  They are the people at the back of the Chamber, all the families and others they represent, who we have heard from in person, in briefings, and by letter, email, phone calls and other communications.  There has been an awful lot of misrepresentation of the intent and application of the bill we are now delaying for a period.  I have spent hours on the phone clarifying those matters with constituents and I will continue to do so. 

I appreciate the commitment from the Government that this bill be brought back on the first week we return.  I can only say, God help them if they do not.

Mrs Hiscutt - If you are ready, we are ready.

Ms  FORREST  - Yes.  I can be brought on and adjourned if amendments need further work.  The commitment is to bring it on.  Commitments are commitments, on the public record, and I can honestly say there will be no more trust if this one is breached.  Trust has been significantly eroded during this period.  I and others, and others will speak for themselves, acted in good faith to try to progress this bill through this parliament by the end of this year.  It should have come earlier.

I want to convey to all those people who are really upset by this, and who I am sure will suffer as a result of this decision that has been made, that I care about them very much.  I care about those children, and I want the parents to go home and tell them how much we care about their children.  Our job here is to make the best possible laws we can, as the Leader said.  It was identified during the process that there are some problems with the bill as it is presented, which do need to be fixed.  I have spoken a number of times about the risks associated with rushing amendments, trying to fix it simply to finish the process.

I will continue to act in good faith.  I notice an email has come back from the Office of Parliamentary Counsel - OPC - addressing some of the issues I put forward for amendment and asking me further questions.  I will deal with that over the next period.

I want members of the public to know I will work really hard, as I always do, to ensure we progress laws that deal with the very real challenge they face every day.  They face challenges we do not even understand; members in this Chamber may have family members who do, but I do not think any member faces them personally.  I sincerely thank them for their contributions to the debate so far, for their presence here now and the presence they have had in our briefings and other places, as hard and as agonising as it must have been during the debate in the other place. 

I also call on members of the public.  I intend to publish my speech on my Facebook page and on my website, calling on members of the public, who do not face the lived experience of these people who do, to show some respect, to be truthful in what they say and if they are not sure about the facts, to find out before they make unfounded claims and ridiculous arguments about what could happen if we pass legislation that seeks to achieve the outcomes our gender-diverse Tasmanians need.

I ask the Government to be proactive in this.  When they see mistruths, lies or blatant misrepresentation of what this bill, as it is presented to our House, is seeking to achieve, that they address them and do not perpetuate the lies.  I cannot stop members of the media doing that.  I cannot stop the Government doing that but I am asking the Government to be responsible.  There are people's lives and wellbeing at stake in this, and we all have that responsibility. 

I will work over the intervening period between now and when we resume our formal sittings - we have GBEs next week - to do what I can to make sure that we have a really robust set of amendments when we come back in March, if that is what is needed to address the challenges we are facing in ensuring this legislation is right so that gender-diverse Tasmanians can live their lives without the fear, challenges and threats they experience under our current arrangement, and be given the opportunities that we all take for granted, and our children take for granted, when they apply for jobs, when they have to produce an identity document that we take for granted but they are constantly challenged by.

That is my commitment to all of you and all those people out there; if you could pass that on to all of them, because I can only imagine how hard it has been for you.

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