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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1387 ..


I would also like to note just how disappointing it has been that a former member of this place has weighed into the debate, in his capacity in his new role. I will not go into what this person and his colleagues have said, but it was not nice, it was not supportive of trans kids and it was completely supportive of Mark Latham’s damaging bill. I am glad that we do not have to listen to these views in this place, but I am still concerned that those views are being given voice.

It has also been asked in this discussion why we are discussing something that is happening in New South Wales and what relevance it has to the ACT. I think that point has been answered by a number of my colleagues in the speeches that they have made today, and I include Mr Davis in that. When you are a member of a community that for decades has had to fight for its equality and you see that being stripped from people somewhere else, you wonder whether it is going to happen here next. Today’s debate is important to let everyone in Canberra know that it will not happen here.

MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (3.43), in reply: I appreciate the very serious nature of the debate that we have just had—people talking about their own lived experiences and experiences they have had interacting with LGBTIQ members of the community. I think it has been a very important conversation for this place to have. One of the things that came to me as we were having this debate, from some of the messages that many members expressed in their speeches, was that the ACT is a very progressive and very accepting place, but it is not entirely progressive and it is not entirely accepting. There is still discrimination in our city and in our territory, and that is not right. We must work every single day to address that. I am glad to hear that all the members who have spoken—and, I think, all political parties—seek to achieve that objective. When I see statistics saying that only 60 per cent of kids feel safe at school to use their chosen names or pronouns, that breaks my heart. School is not an easy time for anyone. I think everyone goes through school with a few scars of certain descriptions, but to go through school not feeling safe to use your name is incredible.

The thing that Mr Hanson raised in his speech that gave me some pause—it is something that I want to address—is that this is an item of business in the New South Wales parliament. I, for the most part, do not follow closely the work of other parliaments. There is enough going on in this place that is keeping me busy, so I do not particularly observe other jurisdictions. But sometimes certain things do pop out. Things like this pop out because the ACT is part of greater New South Wales. When you turn on the news, here in the ACT, you get the nightly news from Sydney. When I turn on the nightly news, I see stories like this. And if I see it, then kids are seeing it as well. That is why it is so important that we, in this place, stand up and say that it is not right and things like that will not happen in our parliament.

The other reason it is so important for us in the ACT to talk about this issue is that students in ACT schools are often residents of New South Wales. These students at ACT schools have to watch their elected representatives entertain this debate—they do not smack it down from the get-go; they entertain it. So I am very proud that as we run an education system in this place, we stand up for those students even if they are not residents of the ACT. I know that when I was going through school, many of the students that sat alongside me in class did not live in the ACT. A fair chunk of them


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