Greens Leader Adam Bandt accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison of putting lives at risk by trying to start a “culture war” and “weaponise” the debate on transgender issues.

Bandt also reiterated his party’s position that gender affirming surgery should be free on Medicare. His comments came during his National Press Club address on Wednesday. 

Trans Rights Are Non-Negotiable, Says Bandt

Bandt pointed out that “amongst young transgender people, nearly half of them have reported to have attempted suicide.”

“We should be having a debate, if we’re having a debate at all in this country, about how to support them, that trans rights are non-negotiable and for the Greens that is crystal clear,” the Greens leader said. 

Bandt was also clear that the issue of trans rights should not become political fodder or a matter for a public debate. “At this moment, can I say this having lived through the marriage equality debate where people reported back to me that what they felt like and what they heard was their very right to exist was being debated in Parliament. We cannot afford another one of those. People’s right to exist should not be the fodder of political election campaigns,” Bandt said. 

Morrison’s Anti-Trans Candidate

The Greens leader also slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his support for Liberal candidates like Katherine Deves, who had to delete her Twitter and Instagram accounts over past transphobic and homophobic social media posts. Morrison had also recently endorsed Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler’s proposed bill to ban trans women from female sports

NSW Liberal candidate Katherine Deves. Image: Facebook.

“Scott Morrison said he was proposing those or backing those changes because he was concerned about women. I mean, give me a break,” said Bandt. 

Bandt said Morrison was attempting to start a “culture war” and punch down on marginalised communities. 

“Scott Morrison, who has routinely turned his back on women who have come forward with some of the most serious allegations, he’s refused to investigate and then refuse to tell the Parliament what is going on. And, he’s turned a blind eye to activities by his ministers, refused to lift the minimum wage in a way that would help women and lift domestic violence services struggling to meet their funding, now says he pretends to care about women. Give me a break!”

‘When Conservatives Are Behind, They Punch Down’

“What this is about from Scott Morrison is an attempt to start up a devastating culture war that has the potential to claim lives,” said Bandt. 

The Greens leader said that he had seen it all before. “I’ve seen this before. When conservatives are behind in the polls, they punch down and they try to pick on groups who are deserving of our support and in need of our attention,  in need of a sensitive debate about how best to support those groups. Instead, he tries to weaponize it and turn it into a cultural (war). I will not be joining the Prime Minister in trying to prosecute a culture war when lives are at stake,” added Bandt. 

Morrison had described Deves as an “outstanding individual” and that he shared her views on trans women participation in female sports.

“(Katherine Deves), she‘s standing up for something really important, and that is to ensure that, you know, when it comes to girls playing sport and women playing sport, that they’re playing against people of the same sex,” Morrison had told the media.

Free Gender Affirmation Surgery On Medicare

Bandt said that the party proposed to make gender affirmation surgery free on Medicare.

“There is a need in this country to include gender affirming surgery on Medicare. That is one thing that would make a big difference,” said Bandt in response to a question from a reporter. 

The Greens had in November 2021, set out its proposals for making gender affirming health care free on Medicare. The party has proposed investing “$15 million per year to cover the out of pocket costs experienced by trans and gender diverse people in accessing gender affirming healthcare.”

“With this $15 million a year investment, and removing legislative and policy barriers in the current systems, the Greens will ensure trans and gender diverse Australians have access to free, holistic, and affirming medical care, including access to surgical procedures, prescribed hormones, products and services to affirm their gender,” Greens Senator Janet Rice had said at the time. 



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