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Ben Dawkins stood alone with no support for his motion on biological sex

After close to two hours of debate, discussion and a dressing down from parliamentary colleagues, newly signed up One Nation MP Ben Dawkins stood alone as the Legislative Council voted on his motion about people who are transgender.

The Liberals and Nationals didn’t vote. Leaving the chambers as the bells tolled. Labor, Legalise Cannabis, and the Greens looked over at the One Nation MP who had used his one slot to raise a matter of importance to the WA people, and had decided a motion about sex at a cellular level was the most pressing and urgent issue that he could bring forth for debate.

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Dawkins joined the parliament in 2023 following the retirement of Alannah MacTiernan. He had been the fifth candidate on Labor’s ticket at the 2021 election.

Prior to taking his seat Dawkins was expelled from the Labor Party as he had been charged with 43 counts of breaching a violence restraining order. He was later removed from the party and ended up being convicted of 35 of the charges.

Dawkins was given a 10-month community-based order and a $2,000 fine. The magistrate declined his request for a spent conviction. Initially sitting in the chamber as an independent, in February 2024 Dawkins joined Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party.

As the debate began Dawkins attempted to remove one of the three limbs of his assertion, he no longer wanted to include a statement that in some settings biological sex is more important than gender identity. The proposal for an amendment was knocked back, the motion would be heard in full as originally submitted.

In what has been described by LGBTIQA+ rights activists as an incredulous move, Dawkins began his speech by claiming that the LGBTIQA+ communities were grateful his motion. A hard to fathom reasoning as protesters had gathered outside the parliament.

He went on to explain his reasoning was based on an opinion piece published in OUTinPerth on Monday from long term LGBTIQA+ rights activist Brian Greig who argued that while Dawkin’s motion had no hope of being passed, it was an opportunity for both the major parties to make genuine commitments to take action on long delayed law reform relating to a range of issues affecting LGBTIQA+ people.

Moments after declaring the LGBTIQA+ community “is now grateful for me having brought this motion to the house” and that he had queer people were on a “unity ticket” on holding the government to account, Dawkins went on to speak against the removal of the Gender Reassignment Board – one of the most prominent issues gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Western Australians have been calling for.

Dawkins went further saying constituents had visited him sharing their concern that people were able to change their birth certificates via the processes of the Gender Reassignment Board, “A man can never become a woman, regardless of transition surgery, due to chromosomal differences.” he declared.

Citing US psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman, Dawkins said he believed the growing number of younger people being diagnosed with gender dysphoria was due to “social contagion”, before falsely claiming puberty blocking medication has been banned across the United Kingdom. They are still prescribed in Scotland, and can be used in clinical trials in England.

Dawkins said he was concerned about people about transgender people having “doctored” birth certificates that did not reflect the sex they were assigned at birth, arguing that when people are rushed to hospital emergency doctors might not be able to determine the correct information which could lead to fatalities.

Labor’s Sally Talbot quoted the article from Brian Greig, saying Dawkins should focus on the part where the former Australian senator  provides a political analysis of One Nation’s motivations, an attempt to build support form the religious rights.

“One Nation is posturing itself to win a seat in 2025 by fear mongering about gender diverse people”, Greig had declared, Talbot agreed described the motion as “whipping up hatred and fear” and being akin to a sixteenth century witch hunt.

Talbot said the motion from One Nation was “truly repulsive” and reflected badly on the whole of parliament. Her opening response set the scene for a succession of condemnations from parliamentarians.

The Greens Dr Brad Pettitt suggested Dawkins spend some meeting people who are transgender, gender-diverse and intersex.

“Ben Dawkins should have a conversation with those people if he is serious about this, because these are real people with real lives and real stories that I think he would greatly benefit from hearing.” Pettitt said.

Labor’s Stephen Dawson rose to say that as a member of the LGBTIQA+ communities he was confident that Dawkins did not have the support of those communities.

“The LGBTQIA+ community is not on the same page as you. Your motion today disgusts me, and certainly the language in your motion is offensive to many in this house, particularly on this side of the chamber. Your motion assists no-one. It is the type of action that a playground bully would take—to pick on those that you deem to be the weakest in society. In this case, you are picking on the transgender and non-binary communities, and I find that disgusting; absolutely disgusting.” Dawson said.

Lorna Harper described the motion as “abhorrent” and “a disgrace”, and offered an apology to the trans and non-binary community. Pierre Yang said

Dawkins did find some support from Liberal Nick Goiran. The Liberal MP said he could support the first limb of Dawkins’s proposal, that biological sex was fact. Goiran attempted to have the motion split in half, so that members could agree with part of the overall statement. He lost the vote.

Goiran went on to talk about how people would approach him and his pregnant wife and ask if they were hoping for a boy or a girl, and expressed his worry that some people might consider such a question an offensive statement.

Labor’s Matthew Swinbourne said the motion should be condemned in its entirety, saying the whole proposal was “repugnant”.

Peter Foster said Dawkins hasd signed up to One Nation’s “war” on trans people. “Weaponised ignorance is One Nation’s specialty” Foster said.

“This motion is the political equivalent of a bowl of vomit”
Pierre Yang, MLC.

Kyle McGinn said the motion was a “cheap, tacky, political stunt.” before adding it was also “disgraceful”, “pathetic” and “ridiculous”. Ayor Makur Chuot, Darren West, Dan Caddy, Sandra Carr, and Martin Pritchard added their voices to the condemnation.

Legalise Cannabis member, Dr Brian Walker, provided a medical perspective on the complexity of sex and gender, reflecting on the experiences of a member of his own family who is transgender. His colleague Sophia Moermond, who spoke at last year’s Kellie-Jay Keen rally, said that “We should have a society based on equity and equality regardless of how someone presents in society.”

At the end of the debate a blustering Dawkins said the comments against him during the debate had been dishonest nonsensical fictitious nonsense. He said the other members of parliament were not up to date with the latest research on transgender healthcare.

A vote was called. He stood on his own.

Graeme Watson 


Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGEDinfo@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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