Tuesday, 5 September 2017
Lai, Dr Pansy
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 443 standing in my name by replacing 'like-minded organisations' with 'associated organisations'.
Leave not granted.
I seek leave to make a brief statement.
I am disappointed the notice couldn't be amended. Nonetheless, I would like to point out that the petition that was moved against Dr Pansy Lai was inherently against the freedom that this place is upholding, which is the right of people to express a view which may be contrary to other views without vilification, without victimisation, without the sort of racist abuse that is so characteristic of those of the Left of the political spectrum. In fact, those who preach tolerance the loudest and demand tolerance the loudest are often the singularly most intolerant individuals, and we have seen that in this debate. Dr Pansy Lai has been victimised, she has been vilified and she has been bullied, most inappropriately. There is a counter-petition going on which has more signatures than the original one with its racist vilification of Dr Pansy Lai. I move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes the attempts by GetUp! and like-minded organisations to pursue the medical deregistration of Dr Pansy Lai for exercising her right to free speech concerning the marriage survey;
(b) condemns those organisations and individuals for attacking freedom of conscience and speech; and
(c) supports Dr Lai exercising her freedom of conscience and speech in participating in the public debate about the Federal Government's marriage survey.
The government calls on every Australian to participate in the marriage law postal survey process with courtesy and respect. Groups and individuals have the right to express sincerely held views in a respectful manner, without fear of intimidation.
The Greens will not be supporting Senator Bernardi's motion. It is full of inaccuracies, and, shambolically, he even tried to amend it on the floor.
An honourable senator: Delete!
Delete it—that's right. GetUp!, the organisation, were not calling for the deregistration of Dr Lai, and in fact the petition calling for that has now been removed from the CommunityRun petition site. This is not an issue of free speech. The calls for Dr Lai's deregistration weren't, as alleged by Senator Bernardi, for exercising her right to free speech, but out of deep concern regarding her seeming support for discredited, dangerous and ineffective gay conversion therapy. We as the Greens do not support the call for Dr Lai's deregistration; however, we do unequivocally oppose gay conversion therapy. Memo to Senator Bernardi: LGBTQI people exist, we're going to continue to exist, we cannot be converted and we deserve to have our rights treated as equal under the law.
Labor will not be supporting this motion today. In opposing this motion I'd like to put on the record that Labor believe that all Australians should be afforded an opportunity to express their views as part of the public discussion about marriage equality, but to do so in a respectful and factual manner. We do not believe the Senate should become a mechanism for the condemnation of the views of individuals or organisations in this debate.
On the specifics of this motion, I would like to note that GetUp! has stated that it does not support the petition targeting Dr Pansy Lai which was uploaded over the weekend, nor did GetUp! endorse or organise it. In the context of complaints that were received in response to the petition, I understand a review was triggered, and, following the review, the petition was found to breach CommunityRun's terms and conditions and was taken down on Monday morning.
Labor have been clear about our position: we do not support a public opinion poll on peoples' relationships, in the form of either a plebiscite or a postal survey, and I note the ongoing cases before the High Court on this matter.
I will support Senator Bernardi on this. I support the 'yes' campaign passionately, but I do believe in freedom of speech. I do not like some of the comments reportedly made by Dr Pansy Lai, especially on things like conversion therapy, which has been discredited all around the world. But I do believe in freedom of speech. I hope that, on both sides of this argument, the yes and the no, this sort of hatred can dissipate. I don't support probably 80 per cent of what Senator Bernardi has said here today, but I do support the right of freedom of speech for everybody in this discussion, left and right, yes and no. For that reason, I will be supporting Senator Bernardi's motion.
Question agreed to.