Diggers’ sex-swap surgery a ‘bad joke’
Former SAS commander Andrew Hastie has criticised the Australian Defence Force for spending more than $1 million on treatment for staff experiencing gender dysphoria, and revealed he left the military because of “aggressive social engineering”.
The West Australian Liberal MP, who was an army officer before entering parliament, said taxpayers should not have paid for 27 ADF personnel who underwent sex changes and treatment for gender dysphoria over the past five years.
“The ‘no fail’ mission of the Australian Defence Force is to win Australia’s wars,” Mr Hastie told The Weekend Australian. “I do not see how these surgeries enhance our war-fighting capability as a nation. It’s a bad joke. Why is the ADF now a vehicle for radical social engineering?”
In a speech delivered to the Defence Christians Dinner last month, Mr Hastie said he left the force because of its support for “social engineering”.
“I repudiate the aggressive social engineering that has been taking place in the ADF, particularly in the army,” Mr Hastie said.
“The military is no place for the latest academic fad or trendy political orthodoxy. We have lives at stake every time we send our people in the field. Commanders particularly need to be clear-eyed about the threats they face and how they can defeat them.”
Seventeen ADF members had sex-change surgery in the past five years, with the total cost amounting to $1.05m, not including pharmaceuticals dispensed by the Defence Force.
Opposition defence personnel spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth yesterday defended the ADF funding.
“The ADF spends money on a range of health treatments to support the wellbeing of its workforce and in recognition that an equitable and diverse workforce is a valuable capability enabler. Labor supports an ADF that supports its people to maximise defence outcomes for Australia,” Ms Rishworth said.
Former army officer Cate McGregor, who is transgender and paid for her sex-change surgery, said the criticisms were unwarranted.
“Is this a country where any patriotic citizen who is willing to serve their country is entitled to serve their country?” Ms McGregor told the ABC last night.
“If you serve your country you sign a contract of unlimited liability ... that carries with it an implication that you will be looked after medically.”
Liberal MP Craig Kelly said the taxpayer should fund counselling for personnel experiencing gender dysphoria but not sexchange operations.
Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi urged the Turnbull government to stop funding sex-change and cosmetic surgery for defence personnel.
“The ADF needs to be able to do its job free from the doctrines of political correctness and cultural sensitivities,’’ Senator Bernardi said.
Australian Defence Association executive director Neil James defended funding sexchange surgeries, saying defence personnel had all their medical costs covered and gender dysphoria should be no different.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said Medicare did not fund sex-change surgery.
The Defence Force also covers cosmetic procedures that meet the clinical requirements of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, including breast enhancement surgery. There were 15 breast enhancement procedures between 2012 and 2015 billed to the taxpayer at a cost of about $235,000.