Changing my surname: A first for SA Parliament

25 Oct 2018 communitynews
Changing my surname: A first for SA Parliament

As you may be aware, at the end of July I legally changed my surname from Habib to Power. I am the first and only parliamentarian to change my surname due to marriage.

Prior to the election, I married Brad Power, who I first met when I was 16 years old. For so many people being married is about a partnership that comes with much joy and it is no different for me. Now that I am able to do so without causing too much confusion, I have changed my surname.

 

 

Transcript of Hansard 2/08/2018:

Ms HABIB (Elder) (15:46): I seek leave to make a personal explanation.

Leave granted.

Ms HABIB: I wish to inform the house that I have recently taken my husband's surname. Last year, just months before the election, I married Brad Power, who I first met when I was 16 years old. Brad has held a strong place at my side throughout the election and as I have taken up the role as the member for Elder. For so many people, being married is about a partnership and being a team that comes with much joy, and that is no different for me. Now that I am able to do so without causing too much confusion, I have changed my surname. I have been advised that I am the only South Australian parliamentarian to change their surname due to marriage in 182 years.

As no doubt all in this house can appreciate, changing my surname is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have worked hard over the years to earn professional recognition and awareness in the community, just as every member in this house has done. We have all just been voted into this place with campaigns run on the recognition of our names. For me personally, given my maiden surname, Habib, has also been widely talked about due to Labor's racist campaign during the 2014 state election—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms HABIB: —this decision came with additional considerations.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Elder will be seated. A personal explanation, per standing order 108, is not a subject of debate. Please continue.

Ms HABIB: As mentioned, Brad and I were married just prior to the election, so the timing of when to change my surname also became a decision in itself. I decided to wait until after the election for a number of reasons, including not wanting to be wasteful with campaign materials already printed and produced with my maiden surname, and also in part because I wanted to send a clear message to the Labor Party and the former member for Elder, Annabel Digance, and her husband. That message was—

The Hon. A. PICCOLO: Mr Speaker, you just ruled that a personal explanation is not a time for debate.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Light will be seated.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! Member for Light, please be seated.

The Hon. A. PICCOLO: And the member will keep to her personal explanation.

The SPEAKER: Order! Member for Light, please be seated. By leave of the house, a member may make a personal explanation even if there is no question before the house. The subject matter of the explanation may not be debated. Member for Elder.

Ms HABIB: I wanted to send a clear message to the former member for Elder, Annabel Digance, and her husband, and that message was that I would not be bullied and intimidated by her racist campaign.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms HABIB: I would not be shamed because my surname came from overseas and we in South Australia, as leaders and a community, must always stand up, speak out and not shy away from those who attempt to incite fear in our community with racist tactics.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms HABIB: No matter what my name is, I will take with me—

The SPEAKER: Is leave withdrawn?

Mr Malinauskas: Not yet.

The SPEAKER: Leave is not withdrawn. Please continue. You have three minutes.

Ms HABIB: I will take with me into the future that experience; that does not disappear when I change my name. This is the first time I have spoken out about it publicly, and I think that has shown a certain level of respect for quite some time now, a number of years. I understand how it feels to be judged on your name and ethnicity alone, and I will continue to fight for equality for all Australians so that individuals are judged on who they are, not what their names are.

My name is a part of who I am, but it is not all that I am. I am now part of a team and I want to reflect that part of my life and how important it is to me. Brad is my equal and my partner in absolutely every way and, as many would know, it is special to be part of a team like this and I wanted to recognise it publicly.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

Ms HABIB: In doing so, I would also like to acknowledge all the incredible women and men who went before me to fight for equality for women. Because of their efforts, women have the right to vote, the right to stand for parliament, and all of us, men and women, can choose to live our lives how we wish within the confines of the law. I chose to marry Brad Power and I am now choosing to take his surname. Thank you.