Thursday, 16 August 2018
That the Senate:
(i) that the Australian Defence Force has recently drawn headlines following an indication it could end the use of gender-specific pronouns, and enforce a new language regime on our defence personnel,
(ii) that the Victorian public service, with support from the Victorian Government, has commenced a campaign to enforce the belief that masculine and feminine pronouns are somehow restricting,
(iii) that in 2016, the Queensland Government ended its inclusion of male or female in drivers' licence information, following complaints from the gender-diverse community,
(iv) the bully and intimidation from some within the gender-diverse community towards iconic Australian comedian Mr Barry Humphries – a man who has been a public trailblazer in challenging community expectations surrounding gender stereotypes – when he questioned the legitimacy of expanding bathrooms, and indoctrinating children in certain social outlooks relating to gender,
(v) that Qantas made international headlines earlier this year when it was revealed it would focus on directing staff language and behaviour, as part of a so-called 'Spirit of Inclusion' month that would "recognise reality" by forcing staff to follow a strict language regime by replacing language such as husband, wife, mum and dad to avoid any potential offence potentially felt by same-gender couples, and
(vi) that the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Parkinson, has repeatedly stated his belief in the highly contentious concept of "unconscious bias", and has spent millions of taxpayer dollars attempting to find evidence to support his personal beliefs and alter the personal actions of staff under his control;
(b) reaffirms its support for free and fearless speech, and open and honest discourse as foundations of western civilisation;
(c) rejects any attempt to enforce an overhaul of longstanding language usage for innocuous and benevolent terms that are spoken with no intended malice; and
(d) condemns any form of crusading, bullying, intimidation and use of authority by government, activists and corporate leaders that attempts to stifle free speech by enforcing a specific world viewpoint on linguistics and social policy.
The Greens oppose this motion. Expanding the use of some simple words and making efforts to improve inclusive language practices in government and business does not pose a threat to Senator O'Sullivan or anyone else for that matter. None of the examples that Senator O'Sullivan has presented restrict the personal freedoms of any Australian. Gender-inclusive pronouns and gender-neutral language demonstrate our commitment to equality and respect for all Australians, regardless of sex and gender. Language evolves. It always has and it always will. Not long ago, the use of sexist language such as the use of the word 'mankind' was widespread, and that is changing. The ease with which my younger friends use the pronoun 'they' to refer to a person regardless of their gender shows me that it's only a matter of time before gender-inclusive language becomes the norm also.