The Palaszczuk Government introduced a new Bill last month which contain a number of radical IR reforms that Queenslanders should be very concerned about.

I will be discussing some of these concerns in future posts.  Here I just want to draw people’s attention to the new gendered language provisions and “nation-leading reforms” on “gender-based harassment” in the workplace.

The Bill’s amendments make “gender-based harassment” a “type of misconduct” which will result in “summary dismissal” of any worker found guilty of engaging in this “type of abhorrent conduct” Minister Grace said when tabling the Bill.

Also included are amendments removing gendered language from Queensland’s Industrial Relations Act.

Terms like ‘maternity’ and ‘she’ are removed from the Act and replaced with dehumanising terms like ‘birth-related’ and ‘the employee’.

One clause in the Bill replaces “maternity leave” with “birth-related leave”, while elsewhere “maternity leave” is replaced with “pregnancy-related”.

The idea is to rid the IR Act with anything that specifically denotes a woman and replacing it with the new “gender neutral language”.

Women I have spoken with on the subject have told me they feel insulted and disrespected by the Bill’s changes.

The legislation artificially does away with legal recognitions of male and female sexes.  At the very least it waters them down so as to make them virtually meaningless.

Many women feel they are increasingly being deprived of their right to a separate identity and voice within society.

Fair Go for Queensland Women (FGQW) said in their submission that the legislation propagates the “worrying trend” towards the “conflation of sex and gender” in Queensland, by elevating “gender over sex in social discourse, policy and legislation”.

“We firmly believe that sex, as an objective and immutable characteristic must be retained in public policy and legislation”, the feminist group wrote, adding:

“Removing language that respects women and their important as well as physically and emotionally demanding role in gestation, birthing and primary care (including breastfeeding, which is a significant undertaking) of infants is not in the interests of Mothers, their babies, their families or the larger community”.

Well said!

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