Trent Zimmerman is one of the five Liberal moderates who crossed the floor to vote to amend the religious discrimination package to protect trans children. Scott Morrison’s response was to abandon his legislation.
Asked whether he regrets his decision to vote against the government Zimmerman, who crossed the floor on some other proposed amendments, says he was “standing up on a couple of points of principle for me – and first and foremost was seeking to support amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act, which would have protected trans kids, but also broadened the limitation of the discrimination that’s allowable for children more generally.”
Zimmerman also voted for an unsuccessful amendment (not supported by Labor) to “remove the current provisions which allow teachers to be discriminated in schools as well”.
But he does “support the principle of a Religious Discrimination Act”. “I think it’s a no-brainer that you shouldn’t be allowed to be discriminated [against] based on your religious beliefs. But I just thought that this went above and beyond an orthodox discrimination law, and that’s where my problems arose. And I hope that at some stage we can have the debate again with a more orthodox bill.”
The rebels have come under some sharp attack from their own side but Zimmerman says they didn’t take their decisions lightly. His colleagues were “very emotionally committed to taking the action that they did because of their perceived concerns, but they recognised the magnitude of what they were doing.”
Zimmerman expects his battle against high profile independent Kylea Tink to be “a very tightly contested campaign”. “I’ve never taken elections in North Sydney for granted.”
With the government’s failure to deliver a national integrity commission an issue, he hopes a commission will be a fresh promise for the election.
“Having a national integrity commission, I think, is very important for our community and for politics.”
On the issue of trust, Zimmerman says: “I think what people are looking for is really the answer to the question of who you trust to get certain jobs done that they expect of their government. And I think that when we get to the election, people will be judging the government on its performance in managing the economy, on its overall performance in managing the pandemic.”