Tehan denies rift over transgender personnel, but won’t rule out policy change

The Minister for Defence Personnel, Dan Tehan, says he has reassured Western Australian politician Andrew Hastie that Australia’s military is focused on the defence of the nation, and allowing transgender personnel to undertake gender reassignment surgery is not reducing their effectiveness.

Hastie has spoken out about the defence force’s policy over the last week, arguing that the government should be changing the policy and not funding health care for transgender military personnel.

Military personnel are not issued a Medicare card, with all their health needs covered in the military’s own health budget. Gender reassignment surgery however is not completely available to the general population via Medicare, with only rebate available to cover some costs.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Marise Payne defended the expenditure in parliament, after concern was raised by One Nation senator Pauline Hanson.

Appearing on Sky News, Tehan said he’d had a “good chat” with his colleague and listened to his concerns but also reassured him that the military was focused on defence. Tehan downplayed the suggested that there was a distinct difference of opinion between the government members.

“He [Hastie] want to make sure that the military, that our ADF, is focused on defending our nation, and that our men and women are focused on defending our nation, and what I was able to assure him is that is absolutely still the number of focus and commitment of the ADF,” Tehan said.

Asked if he would rule out there being a change in policy, Tehan said while there contrasting views within the government but the issue was not as simple as a black and white difference of opinions.

Tehnan said the number of people with gender dysphoria in the military was less than in the general population, and the amount of money spent on treating people with gender dysphoria was a minuscule part of the defence force’s health budget.

Former military officer Bridget Clinch wrote in The Guardian that it makes sense for the military to support personnel who want to transition. Clinch argues that the military having invested significant costs in training personnel is acting in its best interests by making sure they retain those people and their skills.

OIP Staff

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