Tasmania’s rogue Liberal Speaker Sue Hickey has taken a swipe at right wing elements of her party after crossing the floor to pass transgender law reform.
And it probably won’t be the last time the controversial MP votes against party lines.
Ms Hickey, who votes as an independent and holds the balance of power in the lower house, sided with Labor and the Greens on Tuesday night to pass legislation that makes the inclusion of gender on birth certificates optional.
Ms Hickey said she voted with her conscious on the bill after years of talking to the community.
The state government is against the reforms, with Health Minister Michael Ferguson on Wednesday describing it as a “social experiment”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted the birth certificate gender removal push was “ridiculous”.
Ms Hickey fired back at what she described as the “extreme right” of the Liberal party.
“People have to realise the Liberal party has a very strong right-wing Christian element,” she said.
“I would hope that I can give hope to other people who are interested in liberal values that you can be a Liberal without necessarily being extreme right.”
Ms Hickey said Mr Morrison should have “done his homework” before making judgments on the run.
Ms Hickey blindsided her state Liberal colleagues in May by voting with Labor and the Greens to make herself Speaker of the House.
Tasmania’s lower house has 13 Liberal MPs, 10 Labor and two Greens, meaning Ms Hickey has the deciding vote when opposition parties and the government are at a stalemate.
Ms Hickey has guaranteed the government her vote on matters of supply and confidence, a position she reiterated on Wednesday, but said she’d continue to vote for legislation on its merits.
“There’s bound to be things that test the friendship over the three and a half remaining years (of government),” she said of her Liberal state colleagues.
Premier Will Hodgman was forced to fend off accusations by Labor during question time he was heading an unstable, essentially minority, government.
“We are governing in majority and we will continue to do so,” Mr Hodgman replied.
Mr Ferguson told reporters the government remained united.
Transgender rights groups have hailed the reforms that must now pass the state’s 15-member upper house of mostly independents before becoming law.