Health secretary Brendan Murphy defines woman two months after struggling with question


Australian health boss who couldn’t answer the basic question ‘what is a woman?’ FINALLY comes up with a definition 2 months later – but it’s 78 words long

  • Health bureaucrat who struggled to define ‘woman’ gave answer months later
  • Dr Brendan Murphy stumbled over words during a Senate Estimates in April 
  • Department of Health released a statement on Friday finally revealing definition 

A top health bureaucrat who struggled to give the definition of a woman when questioned by a Liberal senator has finally given an answer two months later.

Health secretary Dr Brendan Murphy stumbled over his words when he was asked to define a woman by Liberal Senator Alex Antic during Senate Estimates in April.

‘Perhaps to give a more fulsome answer, we should take that on notice,’ he said.

Dr Murphy remained silent on the topic before responding in a statement released by the Department of Health this week, 2GB reported.

The definition runs for a lengthy 78 words includes the phrase: ‘The Department of Health does not adopt a single definition’.

Health secretary Dr Brendan Murphy (pictured) stumbled over his words when he was asked to define a woman by Liberal Senator Alex Antic during Senate Estimates in April

Health secretary Dr Brendan Murphy (pictured) stumbled over his words when he was asked to define a woman by Liberal Senator Alex Antic during Senate Estimates in April

Dr Murphy had remained silent on the topic since the hearing before finally giving his definition through a statement released by the Department of Health on Friday (stock image)

Dr Murphy had remained silent on the topic since the hearing before finally giving his definition through a statement released by the Department of Health on Friday (stock image)

‘The frameworks adopted to define a person’s gender include chromosomal makeup… the gender assigned at birth… and the gender with which a person identifies,’ the statement reads.

THE AUSTRALIAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DEFINITION OF ‘WOMAN’

The frameworks adopted to define a person’s gender include chromosomal makeup, the gender assigned at birth, and the gender with which a person identifies.

The Department of Health does not adopt a single definition.

Health policies and access to health programs are based on clinical evidence and clinical need for all Australians, regardless of gender identity, biological characteristics, or genetic variations.

Our programs are designed to be inclusive and to provide better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

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‘Health policies and access to health programs are based on clinical evidence and clinical need for all Australians. That is regardless of gender identity, biological characteristics, or genetic variations’.

‘Our programs are designed to be inclusive and to provide better health and wellbeing for all Australians’.

Mr Antic called the response ‘absolute drivel’. 

The Liberal senator had initially asked for the definition of a woman and posed the question to several Department of Health bosses before the room fell silent.

‘Can someone please provide me with what a definition of a woman is?’ he asked.

‘Department of Health – (what is the) definition of a man, definition of a woman, anyone? Basic stuff.’

He then directed the question to Dr Murphy, who laughed as he struggled to find the right words.

‘I think there are a variety of definitions,’ he said.

Mr Antic then requested a simple answer.

‘Perhaps to give a more fulsome answer, we should take that on notice.’

Mr Antic then questioned why the health secretary needed to take notice on such a simple question.

 ‘It’s a very … uh … it’s a very contested space at the moment,’ Dr Murphy continued.

Liberal Senator Alex Antic asked the Australian Department of Health for the definition of a woman in April

Liberal Senator Alex Antic asked the Australian Department of Health for the definition of a woman in April

‘There are definitions in how people identify themselves, so we are happy to provide our working definitions on those.’

The Senator labelled his response ‘hilarious’ and said it was ‘the best thing I’ve seen thus far’ in the hearings.

The Senator speculated whether authorities were afraid to provide a definition for fear they may offend some people and cop backlash.

‘People who five years ago would have been quite comfortable answering a simple question now seem to almost look over their shoulder and wonder who’s coming for them. It’s extraordinary,’ he added.

Mr Antic said he was looking forward to hearing back what the health department’s definition was, while 2GB host Ben Fordham said his primary school aged children could have easily answered the question.

‘I’ve got kids in primary school I’m pretty sure if I asked them tonight they’d know the answer, but anyway, apparently our health secretary needs a month to come up with an answer,’ the radio presenter said.

Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy stumbled over his words as he tried to define what a woman is, saying there was a 'variety' of definitions

Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy stumbled over his words as he tried to define what a woman is, saying there was a ‘variety’ of definitions

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