House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022


Swan Electorate, Sex Discrimination and Other Legislation Amendment (Save Women’s Sport) Bill 2022

1:16 pm

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

As this will be one of my last speeches before I retire at the upcoming election, I want to take the opportunity—and the guidance from the member from Bowman—to thank and acknowledge a few people and organisations which I won't be able to fit into my valedictory speech, which is scheduled for 31 March. There have been some fantastic valedictories already delivered by retiring members, some with plenty of humour, some with bouquets and some with some serious whacks, but the ability to deliver a valedictory as a retiring member will be a privilege. I will get to do what many defeated in elections don't enjoy.

There are five councils in the electorate of Swan, and they have all been fantastic bodies to deal with. To all the CEOs, mayors and councillors I've dealt with over the past 14½ years: thank you for all your input to my office, which has enabled me to deliver funding to projects that matter. The small community grants, volunteer grants and sporting champion programs have all been fantastic opportunities to provide funding to small groups and individuals that desperately need inventory and/or equipment or travel to enable them to exist and compete. The five councils in my area—in no particular order—are City of Belmont, City of Canning, City of Kalamunda, City of South Perth and Town of Victoria Park. City of Swan has a small corner of the electorate, but it's a recent inclusion, only since the last distribution. These areas have been the beneficiaries of over $2 billion in funding, through infrastructure and previous grants I've mentioned, during my time as the member for Swan.

During my life I've been surrounded by women who have nurtured me, loved me and laughed at me, and I have learnt many things from them—particularly the art of listening, from my three older sisters, when I was a young boy. My foster mother, Mary Irons, passed away in January 2020 after a long period of dementia, and I sincerely thank staff at the aged-care facility in Croydon, Victoria, who looked after her so well for many years. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend her funeral, and I hadn't seen her for 18 months prior to that because of travel restrictions due to COVID-19 regulations. Mum loved playing golf, as I do, and we had some fabulous times together on the golf course. Fortunately, my wife, Cheryle, has also taken up the game, and we find this one of the best ways to exercise and spend time together.

As you can see, Mr Deputy Speaker, sport and family have important links. Sport has been a big part of my life, and since becoming the member for Swan I've worked tirelessly to make Swan the sporting capital of Western Australia. In the electorate, we have Optus Stadium, which held last year's AFL grand final. We have two racetracks. We have the Eagles at Lathlain oval. The new home of Football West is being built right now at Queens Park. We have the Royal Perth and Collier Park golf courses and many more sporting facilities and clubs, which all add to the fabric and community spirit of Swan.

The last part of my speech is about Senator Claire Chandler's bill, which would allow women and girls to have the right to play single-sex sport, and my support for Senator Chandler's efforts. As Senator Chandler has said, it's important for everyone to be able to participate in sport, but there should always be a single-sex female category available so that women and girls can compete on a level playing field. Single-sex sport allows women and girls to participate and compete in sport from local level right up to national and international competition. Unacceptably, under current Commonwealth laws, sports clubs and associations can be threatened with legal action for offering single-sex sporting events and competition exclusively for females.

The Sex Discrimination and Other Legislation Amendment (Save Women's Sport) Bill 2022, which was introduced by Senator Chandler, will make clear that single-sex sport for women is lawful and encouraged and supported by the Parliament of Australia. The bill will allow sporting codes to embrace single-sex sport for women without the threat of legal action under the Sex Discrimination Act. It does not seek to ban anybody from playing sport. It seeks to restore respect for women's rights and show that categorisation by sex is important in the vast majority of sports.

The recent case of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas in the USA smashing women's records is an example where the system has failed the basic tenet of sport that competition should be fair. Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce, this week called on the NCAA to immediately stop transgender athletes like Thomas from competing against their biological counterparts. Jenner said on Wednesday that there was no doubt in her mind that the rules needed to be changed. 'All of this woke world that we are living in right now is not working,' said Jenner, who won a gold medal as Bruce in the men's decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics before transitioning to female in 2015. She said:

I feel sorry for the other athletes that are out there … she's competing against because in the woke world you have to say,'Oh, my gosh, this is great' … No, it's not.

Last week champion swimmer Michael Phelps said:

I believe that we all should feel comfortable with who we are in our own skin, but I think sports should all be played on an even playing field.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:22


No comments