Catherine McGregor has apologised for saying David Morrison was a “weak and conventional choice” for 2016 Australian of the Year.
The Queensland finalist, who used to work for the former army chief, had said she felt really sad the board of the National Australia Day Council “did not have the courage to go with an LGBTI person”.
“I thought it was time … it was a weak and conventional choice,” she told the Star Observer, a publication for the gay and lesbian community.
“I think I’ll die without seeing a trans Australian of the Year and I think that’s terribly sad,” Ms McGregor said.
While Ms McGregor congratulated her former boss and friend on winning the top honour, she said he had a lot to learn about transgender issues.
The soon-to-be-retired Royal Australian Air Force group captain said Mr Morrison showed a “lack of skill” by referring to her by her former male name, Malcolm, in interviews after he won the award.
“He didn’t do it intentionally … but that showed a clunkiness he needs to learn,” she said.
On Thursday afternoon, Ms McGregor published these tweets where she apologises “unconditionally” for her comments.
I wish to apologise to the National Australia Day Council unconditionally for my remarks in the @star_observer . I made a criticism about
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016the choice of AOTY based on my personal view that an opportunity had been missed to name an LGBTI Australian. THis was poor judgement.
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016I am entrely accountable for this and withdraw this aspersion unreservedly. I had spoken in the context of the recipient fine record in the
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016realm of women’s right. However there had been some discussion the use of my former name on some tran sites and I made the point that this
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016revealed a lack of insight into trans and LGBTI issues which I hoped the recipient may overcome during his tenure. MY language was wrong
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016I apologise to David Morrison and to the selection committee. I will not make further comment on this issue
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016Feel free to check my FB post about DM also. I made it clear that HE not ME deserved the credit for his you tube speech in 2013. It was his.
— Catherine McGregor (@CateMc3273) January 27, 2016
The National Australia Day Council has accepted the apology from Catherine McGregor.
In a statement, the National Australia Day Council Board said: “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.”