Roger Cook won’t commit to law reform ahead of election

Premier Roger Cook won’t commit to updating Western Australia’s outdated Equal Opportunities laws before the 2025 state election.

The premier made an appearance on ABC radio speaking to Nadia Mitsopoulos where he was asked about the government’s slow progress on the long-promised law reform.

The premier denied he’d “fobbed off” the reforms fearing a debate with faith leaders over the issue.

“This is an important issue for us as a Labor government,” Cook said. “It’s very close to our values and we want to make sure we introduce the laws.”

“I’ve spoken to the Attorney General about these laws just yesterday and he assures me that they are now in the final stages of drafting.

“We do want to make sure that we introduce them in a way that doesn’t seek to divide the community through acrimonious debate, but these are important principles that as a progressive community we should all stand behind.”

The premier said he would continue to work with Attorney General John Quigley about a pathway for the legislation, but acknowledged there was concern within government ranks about the introduction of the laws.

Cook said the reforms would be complex and significant.

On Sunday, Roger Cook became the first sitting Western Australian Premier to visit Pride Fairday where he mingled with members of the LGBTIQA+ communities, one of the largest groups affected by the current laws.

On Friday at the Crown Pride Luncheon Stephen Dawson, minister for Emergency Services; Innovation and the Digital Economy; Medical Research and Volunteering said it was “scandalous” that the state’s Equal Opportunity laws still allowed teachers to be sacked over their sexuality, and school students to be expelled.

The current laws also allow for religious based schools to discriminate when hiring staff. Linked to the law reform is the abolishment of the WA Gender Reassignment Board which Labor has been promising to remove since 2017.

Graeme Watson

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