Govt pledge: Gender will remain on birth docs
A person's gender will remain on birth certificates as the federal government pledges to override state laws and block "reckless" moves to strip the document of male and female status.
Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said the "identity wars" now posed a serious risk to essential planning data relied on to work out where to build hospitals and schools.
He said axing gender from birth certificates would destroy the Australian Bureau of Statistics' ability to collect the information from state registry offices which it used across a range of different data sets.
"This identity war now poses some pretty serious risks. I can't allow states to do it (remove gender)," he said.
"This data is essential for sensible planning across Australia. Governments at all levels use it for planning including where hospitals and schools go. It's used by housing developers.
"It will make planning exceptionally difficult for the department of health which has to make decisions about where obstetrics wards go and fertility services.
"We provide cervical cancer vaccines for free. How will we know how many to order?
"Cervical cancer doesn't care about how you identify, it cares about whether you have a cervix."
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has ruled out having any policy to remove gender from official documents.
However in Tasmania Labor has backed a Greens proposal to leave gender off of birth certificates.
A similar move is being considered in the NT.
Under the Greens plan gender would be included on a birth certificate only if it was ordered by a magistrate or required under the laws of another state.
Mr Robert said he hoped states such as Tasmania come to their sense but if not he was prepared to legislate.
He would also consider changes to the Census Act to make sure male and female remained part of the national survey.
"If Labor agrees to take it off of birth certificates then it's a slippery slope," he said.
Mr Robert said the government would be the "grown up" in the debate.
A child over 16 would need to declare their gender by statutory declaration to get it listed on the certificate and for those under 16, the document would be required from a parent or guardian and include the views of the child.