News National McGregor sorry for attack on Australian of the Year
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McGregor sorry for attack on Australian of the Year

catherine mcgregor
AAP
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Queensland’s Australian of the Year (AOTY) has been forced to backtrack on comments labelling the choice of national award winner as “weak” and “conventional”.

Catherine McGregor AM, a former Army Lieutenant Colonel and transgender advocate, was pipped for the honour by ACT finalist, and close ally, retired Lieutenant General David Morrison.

“I thought it was time [a transgender person was Australian of the Year] … it was a weak and conventional choice,” Lt Colonel McGregor told prominent gay and lesbian magazine The Star Observer.

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“I think I’ll die without seeing a trans Australian of the Year and I think that’s terribly sad.”

Most surprisingly, Mr Morrison and Ms McGregor are close allies, with Ms McGregor writing the powerful anti-discrimination message that launched the former Army chief into the spotlight.

In an episode of Australian Story, Mr Morrison recounts how he pledged total loyalty to Ms McGregor after revealing she was transgender.

david morrison
In a 2013 speech written by Lt Colonel McGregor, former Army chief David Morrison spoke out against demeaning and exploitative treatment of women in the force. Photo: YouTube

“I can assure you, you are my mate, and I will stay absolutely rock solid with you,” Mr Morrison recalls telling Ms McGregor.

She would became an advocate for transgender people across the country in 2012, when she announced publicly the intention to change her gender, moving from Malcolm to Catherine.

At the time, she was working as a speechwriter in the Australian Army under the former Army chief.

Lt General Morrison has been a staunch advocate for gender diversity and eliminating gender-based discrimination, and affirmed he would continue pursuing these goals when he was presented with the AOTY in Canberra on Monday night.

As chief of the Australian Army, he revealed instances of demeaning and exploitative treatment of female officers within the organisation, famously ordering soldiers to “get out” if they could not respect women as equals.

He later refused to accept Ms McGregor’s resignation in 2012 when she was going through her gender transformation.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the retired army officer and cricket writer apologised “unconditionally” for her comments in a series of posts to Twitter.

“I made a criticism about the choice of AOTY based on my personal view that an opportunity had been missed to name an LGBTI Australian. This was poor judgement,” she wrote.

“I apologise to David Morrison and to the selection committee.”

See the tweets in full below

‘On a steep learning curve’

Mr Morrison was on “a steep learning curve” when it came to LGBTI issues, Ms McGregor told The Star Observer.

She was responding to questions on the use of her former name in recent interviews.

“It shows a lack of skill on trans issues, he didn’t do intentionally … but that showed a clunkiness he needs to learn,” she said, adding that she would be willing to work with him to expand his knowledge.

Since her transition, Ms McGregor has become a strong advocate for the transgender community, and remained close to her former boss.

Requests directed to Ms McGregor for comment by The New Daily were not answered.

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