Queensland finalist Catherine McGregor and Australian of the Year 2016 David Morrison. Photo: Alex EllinghausenComment: David Morrison was prepared to learn, now to teachComment: Straight, white and male – Australia’s latest diversity advocate
Australian of the Year finalist and transgender military officer Catherine McGregor has swiftly apologised after branding the appointment of her former boss David Morrison to the position as a “weak and conventional choice”.
After the former chief of army was named Australian of the Year, Group Captain McGregor told the prominent gay and lesbian magazine the Star Observer that the National Australia Day Council board did “not have the courage to go with an LGBTI person”.
“I thought it was time … It was a weak and conventional choice,” she said.
“I think I’ll die without seeing a trans Australian of the Year and I think that’s terribly sad.”
Group Captain McGregor revisited the remarks when speaking to Fairfax Media on Wednesday afternoon, saying she felt the decision by the board had been overly “safe” and “predictable”.
“I thought there was an opportunity to do something very strong,” she said.
She also told the Star Observer that Mr Morrison still had a lot to learn about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues.
“He’s on a steep learning curve when it comes to LGBTI and trans issues, he needs to learn a lot and rapidly,” she said.
She said that Mr Morrison has used the wrong pronouns when talking about her in media interviews since the award and “dead-named” her, referring to her by her former male name. However she said she did not believe he had done so maliciously.
But Group Captain McGregor, who was Queensland’s Australian of the Year and was up against retired Lieutenant-General Morrison for the national title, later took to Twitter on Wednesday to apologise for her comments.
“I wish to apologise to the National Australia Day Council unconditionally for my remarks in the @star_observer,” she wrote.
“I made a criticism about the choice of [Australian of the Year] based on my personal view that an opportunity had been missed to name an LGBTI Australian. This was poor judgement.”
She also apologised to General Morrison. She has repeatedly congratulated her former boss – who declined her resignation offer in 2012 when she was going through her gender transition – on his victory and said she believes he will do a good job.
Group Captain McGregor previously worked as General Morrison’s speech writer and wrote the famous 2013 video address in which he told sexist soldiers to “get out” of the army after revelations of a sex scandal in the force.
General Morrison was appointed Australian of the Year on Monday night for his work advocating gender equality, both as chief of army and in his community work since he retired last year.
The National Australia Day Council Board said it was “very disappointed by the comments made today by the Queensland Australian of the Year, Catherine McGregor, and her apology is appreciated and accepted”.
“The board stands by its decision to select David Morrison as the 2016 Australian of the Year as a champion of diversity and for marginalised communities in Australia, including the LGBTI community,” the board said in a brief statement.
The board said it looked forward to working with “David, Catherine and all the 2016 Australian of the Year finalists, all remarkable Australians, to make our great nation even better”.
General Morrison declined to comment.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.