Larry’s View

Larry’s view on any and everything.

Malaysia-born lesbian lawyer becomes australia’s first openly gay cabinet minister

December 5, 2007
malaysia-born lesbian lawyer becomes australia’s first openly gay cabinet minister
By News Editor
 
Senator Penny Wong has been appointed Australia’s first climate change and water minister – making her both the country’s first openly gay and Asian-born cabinet minister.
 
 
South Australia Senator Penny Wong Ying Yen, a 39-year-old lawyer who was born in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, was named Australia’s first climate change and water minister by newly-installed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who was sworn in on Monday.

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The Labor Party leader and former diplomat officially ended John Howard’s reign as Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister after winning a landslide election victory over Howard’s 11-year-old coalition last week.

Wong, who was born in Sabah’s capital of Kota Kinabalu to a Malaysian Chinese Hakka father and an Australian mother, emigrated to Australia as an eight-year-old in 1977. She worked as a lawyer before being elected as a Labor Senator for South Australia in November 2001.

Wong was appointed Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, and Shadow Minister for Corporate Governance and Responsibility in October 2004.

Described by newspaper commentators as “the smart rising star of Australian politics” and “a template of Australia’s multicultural future,” Wong spoke of her family history and race issues during her first parliamentary speech in August 2002. She spoke critically of former PM Howard’s tolerance of Pauline Hanson’s views and called for the reclamation of the phrase `one nation’ referencing Hanson’s One Nation Party which promoted racist and anti-immigration views and policies.

“Then there was Pauline Hanson, who said we were in danger of being overrun by Asians. And what did the Prime Minister do? Did he as the Prime Minister show that moral leadership which was called for?”

“Leadership was called for, not to deny freedom of speech but to assert the harm in what she said. Leadership was called for, but it was not provided.”

Last year, the outspoken senator again criticised the Howard Government for overturning the Australian Capital Territory Civil Unions Act.

“The ACT government has chosen to do this [legislate for the recognition of and therefore consequent rights for same-sex relationships]. It is a proposition even President Bush is on the record as countenancing, and the logic really is difficult to fault. If you deny access to one institution – that is, marriage – is it appropriate that you also deny any alternative form of recognition to such relationships via state and territory laws? The only reason you would deny alternative recognition is because your position is in fact that you do not want any recognition for those relationships and therefore no consequent rights. Yet this is precisely what the Howard government seeks to do in relation to the ACT.”

Wong, the Prime Minister and Environment Minister Peter Garrett who might be better known as the former frontman of Australian rock band Midnight Oil, are expected to attend the United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) conference in Bali next week.

Next page: Extracts of her maiden speech – Reclaiming One Nation and speech on the ACT Civil Unions Act in parliament

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Gay General, Gay Issue & Rights-Overseas | Leave a comment

Penny Wong Maiden Speech – Reclaiming One Nation: 21 Aug 2002

December 5, 2007
malaysia-born lesbian lawyer becomes australia’s first openly gay cabinet minister
By News Editor
 
 
Extracts of parliamentary speeches by Penny Wong Maiden Speech – Reclaiming One Nation: 21 Aug 2002

Then there was Pauline Hanson, who said we were in danger of being overrun by Asians. And what did the Prime Minister do? Did he as the Prime Minister show that moral leadership which was called for? When asked to comment on whether Aboriginal and Asian Australians should be protected from people like Pauline Hanson, the Prime Minister said:

Well, are you saying that somebody shouldn’t be allowed to say what she said? I would say in a country such as Australia people should be allowed to say that.

What sort of message does this send to our community? That it is acceptable to rail against people who look different? That these sorts of comments are no different from any other sort of political commentary? Leadership was called for, not to deny freedom of speech but to assert the harm in what she said. Leadership was called for, but it was not provided.

Click to read original document

ACT Civil Unions Act: 15 Jun 2006

The ACT government has chosen to do this [legislate for the recognition of and therefore consequent rights for same-sex relationships]. It is a proposition even President Bush is on the record as countenancing, and the logic really is difficult to fault. If you deny access to one institution – that is, marriage – is it appropriate that you also deny any alternative form of recognition to such relationships via state and territory laws? The only reason you would deny alternative recognition is because your position is in fact that you do not want any recognition for those relationships and therefore no consequent rights. Yet this is precisely what the Howard government seeks to do in relation to the ACT.

This is exemplified by the government’s refusal to engage with the ACT to find a constructive solution to this. They have not engaged because they do not want a resolution. They say it is too like a marriage. I will pose some questions to the government, but I doubt I will get an answer. Which rights do you say ought to be removed in order for this bill to become acceptable? Which rights would you delete in order for it to be acceptable for a same-sex relationship to have recognition? Which rights would you remove in order for this to be okay? Would it be medical consent? Would it be the fact that you have to pay stamp duty? Would it be the disposition of property? Would it be the rights if someone dies intestate? Which of these rights, which are conferred through the ACT legislation, so offend this government that they have to strike this law down?

If it is one particular right, such as the stamp duty issue, perhaps you should put it back to the ACT government that you would like that taken out. Which rights do you want removed? The fact is, you will not engage in that discussion because ultimately you do not want recognition of those relationships. I doubt that the government will answer me when I ask them which rights should be removed to make this legislation acceptable.

Click to read original document (PDF)

Videos and podcasts of Senator Penny Wong’s speeches are available on www.pennywong.com.au.

December 5, 2007 Posted by | Blogroll, Gay General, Gay Issue & Rights-Overseas | Leave a comment