Australian Politics 2019-04-06 15:45:00


Tasmania set to be first in Australia to allow birth certificate gender change

Your birth certificate should surely record what you were born as.  What happens later should be a separate matter

Tasmania is poised to become the first Australian jurisdiction to make gender optional on birth certificates after landmark legislation passed an upper-house milestone.

Amendments to the controversial bill were finalised after a marathon three-day debate concluded on Thursday night.

The legislation allows 16-year-olds to change their registered gender via a statutory declaration without permission of their parents.

It also removes the requirement for transgender people to have sexual reassignment surgery in order to have their new gender recognised. The reforms were attached to legislation bringing Tasmania into line with national same-sex laws.

“I congratulate those upper-house members who put people before politics and who stood up for equality and inclusion,” Tasmanian transgender rights activist Martine Delaney said.

“When historians come to write about how Tasmania adopted the best transgender laws in the nation, and the world, they will say the quietest voices spoke the loudest.” The legislation won’t become law until a third reading in the upper house next week.

The bill will then return to Tasmania’s lower house for the final tick of approval.

The reforms, brought forward by the state’s Labor opposition and Greens, passed the lower house late last year when rogue Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey crossed the floor.

The state government has labelled the legislation “deeply flawed” and lacking in consultation.

“(We) have strong concerns about the unintended legal consequences of the amendments,” Liberal MLC (Member of Legislative Council) Leonie Hiscutt said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year labelled the push to remove gender from birth certificates as “ridiculous”, while the Australian Christian Lobby has said the removal of gender on birth certificates was ignoring biological truths.


‘Phallic’ slur on teaching methods by two Australian feminists

They are so full of hate

A row has erupted in education circles over a push for rigorous scientific research to inform classroom teaching practices, after a prominent education academic described it as a “masculinist fantasy” that would create a workforce of “phallic teachers” obsessed with “data, tools and … probes”.

Lucinda McKnight, who educates trainee teachers at Melbourne’s Deakin University, has called for “an urgent halt to the imposition of evidence-based education”, arguing that “pretending teachers are doctors … leaves students consigned to boring, standardised and ineffective cookbook teaching”.

The extraordinary claim, which follows bipartisan political support for the establishment of an independent national evidence institute to evaluate best practice in Australian schools, has provoked a swift backlash. Academics and teachers described it as “deeply flawed”, “bizarre” and “insulting”.

In an article on the Australian Association for Research in Education website, Dr McKnight and her co-author, Monash University academic and doctor Andy Morgan, takes aim at the push for education to embrace randomised controlled trials (RCTs), which are used in medicine to test the efficacy of a new drug or health intervention.

According to the article, encouraging teachers to be like doctors seems like a good idea but is “problematic” and ignores the fact evidence-based medicine is itself in “crisis”.

“Teaching is a feminised profession, with a much lower status than medicine,” the authors wrote. “It is easy for science to exert a masculinist authority over teachers, who are required to be ever more scientific to seem professional.

“They are called on to be phallic teachers, using data, tools, tests, rubrics, standards, benchmarks, probes and scientific trials, rather than ‘soft’ skills of listening, empathising, reflecting and sharing.” The article, based on a paper in the latest Journal of Education Policy, has been shared widely on social media and has sparked robust debate.

Pamela Snow, an expert in language and literacy at La Trobe University, described as “insulting” the assumption that “poor feeble women … would not be able to cope with the rigours of science’s analytic tools”.

“There is no connection ­between genitalia and the tools of scientific inquiry,” she said.

Dr Snow said teachers had an obligation to be aware of the latest research studies. “No one is pretending teachers are doctors but if they want to be afforded at least some professional autonomy then they have to accept professional accountability.”

Teacher and education blogger Greg Ashman, who has published a book about evidence-informed teaching practice, said the authors had taken legitimate criticism to launch an attack on the “entire concerto of evidence-based education”.

“Clearly, not all evidence is equal. Some randomised controlled trials are better than others. Some correlational studies are better than others,” he said.

“As teachers, it is time to build the expertise to evaluate these claims ourselves.”

Dr McKnight declined to speak to The Weekend Australian. On social media she claimed she had been “misrepresented”.

“I would like to emphasise that we are calling for scrutiny, not for ­rejecting scientific evidence.”

Dr Morgan said the medical industry had learned hard lessons about the application of evidence, including that an approach proven effective in a large population group might still be unsuitable for a particular patient, that should be heeded by educators.


Sex offenders, armed robbers and a murderer are among more than 30 foreign-born criminals allowed to stay in Australia after their visa cancellations are overturned

More than 30 criminals ranging from a wife murderer and sex offenders to armed robbers and drug traffickers have been allowed to stay in Australia, despite having their visas cancelled.

Over the last 10 months, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has overturned 34 decisions made by delegates for the Home Affairs and Immigration ministers involving serious offenders.

Most were facing deportation but were then given a lifeline by the AAT to stay in the country.

Of the new cases — 16 of the criminals live in Melbourne, another 16 reside in Sydney, The Herald Sun reported.

Perth and Adelaide are each home to one convicted offender. 

Among those given the green light, are Kenyan-born killer Paul Jason Margach, who was jailed after he repeatedly stabbed his wife Tina in front of one of their young children at their Melbourne home in 2004.

Convicted African-born sex offender Malipo Muyobe also had his visa cancellation overruled, as did an unnamed Chinese triad organised crime gang member jailed for 13 years for trafficking a commercial quality of ecstasy and possession of ice. 

Mauritian stalker Jean Marie Amoorthum, who was convicted of stalking and threatening a young female with a knife, also had his cancellation overturned.

Statistics from AAT's latest annual report show that the tribunal only affirmed 35 per cent, or 4,432, of the migration visa decisions made by ministerial delegates in 2017-18.

The latest cases are on top of 164 criminals saved from deportation by the Administrative Appeals ­Tribunal between 2010 and 2018.

Out of the previous cases, eight were convicted of murder, 23 were found guilty of armed robbery, 33 were drug dealers, 17 were rapists and eight were convicted of murder.

Last April's revelations prompted Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to request a Joint Standing Committee on Migration to inquire and report on the AAT review processes regarding visa cancellations made on criminal grounds.

The committee's findings aimed at making it more difficult for the AAT to save criminals from deportation are now being examined by the federal government. 'I have made my concerns about the outcomes of some AAT reviews very clear in the past,' Mr Dutton told the Herald Sun in February.

Immigration Minister David Coleman reiterated he has no tolerance for those who put Australians in danger. 'Non-citizens who commit abhorrent crimes should expect to forfeit the privilege of staying in Australia,' Mr Coleman said on Wednesday night. 'The safety of Australian's must always come first.'


Almost 30 per cent of Australia's population was born overseas – with the majority of migrants hailing from the UK and China

Nearly one third of all Australians were born overseas, according to new data released on Wednesday.

More than 7 million Australians, nearly 30 per cent of the total population, are foreign-born, with the majority originating from the United Kingdom and China. 

The figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal key insights into the make-up of the Australian population, which reached the 25 million mark in August 2018.

Almost one million migrants, or 4 per cent of the population, hail from the UK.

Trailing behind is China, with more than 650,000 migrants living in Australia.

India is a close third with more than 590,000 people, or a sunburnt 2.4 per cent of the nation calling the sunburnt country home. 

However, the number of British migrants has dropped from more than one million in 2014 to 992,000, he said. 

'Australia's multicultural society is made up of migrants born in every country around the world,' he said.

'Although almost 18 million Australians were born here, our society is continuing to become more culturally diverse over time.'

From June 2017 until June 2018, more than 520,000 people moved to Australia, while almost 290,000 people left to live overseas.

Roughly 62 per cent of those who arrived here during that time frame were temporary visa holders, 30 per cent of which were international students.

Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia CEO, Mohammad Al-Khafaji, told SBS News the 'figures run counter to the narrative of far-right anti-immigration groups and commentators who are highly critical of immigration from Asia and the Middle East.'

'In fact, Middle Eastern nations don't even figure in the top 10 countries of origin.'


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