10 February 2022

SUBJECTS: Religious discrimination; sex discrimination.
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Well in breaking news this morning, the contentious religious discrimination bill has passed its first hurdle, passing the House of Representatives after a marathon sitting. It comes after Labor MP Stephen Jones made a very personal plea to reconsider the laws. He's opened up about his gay nephew’s suicide and his fears for his own 14-year-old son.
JONES (TAPE): He designs and makes his own clothes. He's a gifted makeup artist. He wears heels that. Give me vertigo. And has more handbags than his sister, but I worry myself sick every time he leaves the house.
KOCH:  And overnight Stephen’s son Paddy spoke out.
PADDY JONES (TIKTOK): When I first saw this speech, it made me cry. I was nervous when Dad asked me about this speech. But I said yes, because there are young gay and trans Australian kids that need to know that there are people fighting for you.
KOCH: Stephen Jones joins me now. Stephen thanks for joining us. Big night. This bill went through at 4:00 a.m. this morning. There was more crossing of the house than a line-dancing competition. Bring us up-to-date. What was actually passed today? What changes were and weren't made?
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks, Kochi. Sorry, a bit teary, just seeing my son on that intro. Look, two bills were moved through the house last night. The first was the Religious Discrimination Bill. I support it. Labor supports that we want to ensure that people aren't attacked, aren't discriminated against on the basis of their religion, really important stuff. But we wanted to ensure that in protecting one group of people's freedoms, we didn't deny other people their rights. And I was particularly mindful of the rights of young gay, lesbian, transgender kids like my son and all the other young Australians like him. And that was important that we got amendments through to the sex Discrimination Act to protect their rights as well so that they can't be discriminated against at school, they can't be booted out of school because of their gender or their or the sexuality. And I think Paddy’s story and his bravery speaks for itself. So really important we had both of those things.
KOCH: So those changes got through?
JONES: That's right.
KOCH: Which is great. Because look you speaking last night took it from being a Bill and discussing words to the to the community level. To the personal level. You gave it a face. Paddy's response was so impressive as well. It really came from the heart.
JONES: Look it really did. It's been a rough fortnight for my family, tragic circumstances I alluded to in that speech. But also, you know, wanting to ensure that we protect the rights of kids like mine. It was very, very, very, very mindful of it. And I never named Paddy in my speech. But he came out afterwards and said, hey, this is me. I'm Stephen’s son and this is what it's all about. And when we're talking about categories, it's easy to dismiss people. But when we’re talking about people, it's a lot harder. So the bravery of people like my son Paddy and others who come forward and said, you're not talking about a category of talking about me and my life, that's very, very powerful. So I'm very, very proud of him.
KOCH: Yeah, take us through your discussions with Paddy before you spoke last night. Did you run your speech by him did? Did he have comments and contribute to it as well?
JONES: I talked to him about what I wanted to say and what was going on. He's a very, very engaged and very, very aware kid so he understood all the conversations that were going on. But he gets most of his news from TikTok, not from your show I'm sorry to tell you Kochie.
KOCH: That’s all right. They all do. I’ve got grandkids.
JONES: I won’t I'll tell you exactly what he told me to say to parliament. Because I said mate, that's a bit unparliamentary. How about we work through some of the things, the stories, that we need to tell? So the story of my nephew. But also what it's like … you know when Paddy gets asked, are you gay? A you trans? Are you a boy or a girl? His answer is always, I'm Paddy.  I’m Paddy and this is who I am. And he moves seamlessly between the wardrobes of boys and girls. He wears heels that gives me vertigo. He’s just an incredibly talented artist. He'll make a name for him one day. So I wanted to tell the story of my son. But also wanted to share the anguish that many parents feel when they see their kids leave the safety of their house and go out into the world.
KOCH: You did it so well.
JONES: If I can do anything, we’ve got to make it safer for our kids.
KOCH: Yep. You did it so well. It resonated with, I think, every parent out there. Stephen, thanks for joining us.
JONES: Great to be with you.