What would you say if I told you that Dan Andrews’, affable Premier of the self-proclaimed ‘Education State’, is leading the most radical government Victoria has ever seen? It might come as a surprise to some, but that is the reality Victorians are now facing. In a recent sitting week, the state’s attorney-general introduced two bills which illustrate the trajectory of this administration’s policy program.
One bill scored all of the attention in the media, very little of it critical: the Equal Opportunity Amendment Bill. If the bill passes the upper-house Legislative Council (the numbers are reportedly very tight) religious schools, churches, synagogues will be forced to justify their employment decisions before the state’s human-rights commissars and employment tribunals. The bill is designed to restrict the ability of religious organisations to discriminate when employing people based on, wait for it, religious beliefs. Only when the role in question has religious belief as an “inherent requirement” will such bodies be able to “discriminate”. Critically, the bill also puts in place mechanisms to force religious organisations to justify decisions that see them decline to hire those whose sexual ethics and practice run counter to their beliefs.
While that bill received some attention in the press, the one that has flown right under the radar was the innocuous-sounding Births, Deaths and Marriages Amendment. In this writer’s humble opinion, this bill spells a greater danger than even the implicit totalitarianism of the previous bill’s intention to grossly inhibit an employer’s options. Here we find that Victorians will be free to change the sex recorded on their birth certificates without any medical or biological reason: the bill is explicitly intended to bypass the inconveniences of sex-reassignment surgery and re-define gender as an option, not a biological fact. For an individual to do as much requires nothing more than than a supporting statement by an adult third party who has known the petitioner for 12 months or longer and accepts them as the gender they prefer.
Andrews & Co., believe biology and chromosomes have nothing to do with it, that everyone should be free to choose their own genders. Yes, you understand correctly. If this bill passes there will be no objective meaning to “gender” or “sex” in Victoria. The definition will be entirely variable, based solely on the individual’s personal, subjective preference as to whether they officially identify as a male, female or whatever.
If we combine Andrews’ avid support for the pernicious Safe Schools program, the cabinet presence of a minster for equality, the potential for harassment of employers employment discrimination on the basis of sexuality and/or religious views, then we are faced with one stark conclusion: Dan Andrews is the most radical premier Victoria has seen and his government is implementing at a rate of knots a highly subversive and dangerous social agenda.
How many voters, apart from the latte-sipping elites of the inner suburbs, would be seriously on board with this legislation? How many people would be happy for a bloke, who happens to (conveniently) identify as a woman, to share a public toilet with their 12-year-old daughters? How many people want nominal “female” Joanne Smith, nee John Smith, competing in the girls 100m freestyle at the school swimming carnival? How many Victorians want to throw out the window biology, history, medical science, and millennia of consensus about the natures of male and female? Not many, one guesses, beyond those who dwell in enclaves of fashionable opinion where “gender fluidity” is the latest hip cause and crusade
Daniel Andrews was all about level-crossings and prosaic parish-pump issues when he campaigned successfully to replace the hapless and hopeless one-term Liberal government. What Victorians ended up with is a government dedicated to a program of radical social re-engineering. Surely there must be some, perhaps even in his own party, with grave misgivings about the current government’s agenda. As the media shows no interest in covering these initiatives to any great degree, it might be time for them to start pushing back.
Simon P. Kennedy is a writer, researcher and PhD candidate in the history of political thought