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Ericsson Access Services. Welcome to The Drum. I'm John Barron. Coming up tonight - Trump tweets a ban on transgender people in the US armed forces but is it an order? Britain bans the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040. When will Australia pull the petrol pumps? The future of work - it doesn't look like it does right now. How best should we prepare ourselves?

Joining us on the panel tonight - Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin. Also with us tonight, Kate Mills from Professional Mums.Good evening.Dr Chris Pepin-Neff from the University of Sydney is with us.Jon.Also Caroline Overington from The Australian.Good to see you.Also tonight joining us is Kathy Wright from the Deaf Society, our Auslan interpreter for the whole of tonight's show which is a first for The Drum. You can join us as well on Twitter and Facebook where we are live streaming right now. Let's begin in the United States because President Donald Trump is back in the news again today dramatically ordering a ban on transgender people serving in the US military. The announcement came via Twitter this morning after a debate over whether the US military should pay for medical treatments for transgender service members including gender re-alignment surgery. The President tweeted this morning:

This decision seems to have caught the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans' Affairs at least by surprise. It's also been criticised by the likes of former prir of war and Republican Senator John McCain and former Vice President Joe Biden. Chris, you are recently back from the United States and you have worked on a lot of these kinds of LGBT IQ issues. Where has this come from?There is two things going on. At the macro level, this is a distraction and this is a form of manipulation. The simple fact is the President has a stalled legislative agenda, needs to get some runs on the board, support his base. He thinks picking on trans people is a good way to do that. At the micro level, we have 15,000 service members who are transgender serving right now and his 8:00am Tweet affects their lives and constitutes a ban against their service.Didn't they just recently overturn don't ask, don't tell about gay people serving in the military. You are telling us there are 15,000 transgender people in the American armed services. That sounds very high?We repealed don't ask, don't tell in 2011. I spent 11 years on that. For the past five years, we lifted the ban on Trans people. 18 foreign militaries, no problem with trans people serving yet the President seems to be singling out trans people to attack.Kate Mills, what do you think of the politics of this decision? America is, in some ways, further ahead of countries like Australia, they've legalised same-sex marriage across all 50 States?I do agree with Chris, when you see Trump tweets come out, think about the smoke and mirrors. What's going on here, where are we supposed to be looking when the tweets fire out? You can't mistake a tweet with policy. There are plenty of things in Trump's policy bag that haven't come to fruition so you have to wait and see what happens with it. There is a suggestion out there this is being linked to the US appropriations bill which is he is currently struggling to get through the House. In the bill, funding for Trump's wall, 1.6 billion there, to get that through there was horse trading around transgender and who would pay for transgender reassignment operations in the US, so there is a connection that Trump has come out strong, he wants to send a message he wants to get this bill across and get that money. As Chris said, it is smoke and mirrors here. Will this be in the news tomorrow, next week, or will another Trump tweet come out that blindsides us all and we are talking about that? I would love to see the major press for one day ignore Trump. Love to see the tweet come out, everyone turn their back on him so he is not on the front page of the news every day.It is a bit hard to ignore the President of the United States when what he says very quickly becomes law or an executive order...It is a hard to ignore him. He is playing us. He gets up at 8 o'clock in the morning, shoots it out, it stops us from talking about what's happening in the United States. Will this become policy, we have to wait and see.Some have said this is discrimination pure and simple and it's inappropriate as a result of that, although others that wouldn't feel as they are transphobic might suggest what is the Defence budget doing paying for somebody who is a man to become a woman. That is a personal issue, sure, but Defence budget appropriations are about paying for tanks and planes and bullets, not that you want to become the other gender?I think, it is an example of Trump oppressing and marginalising people. It is disappointing to see that happening. Again, we see, like people with disability, they say we're a burden on society because of medical expenses and there is another example there of oppression of people with disability and people that are transgender, they should be allowed to be human, who they are. How they become transgender is up to them.Is it, do you believe, a human right to not only get the government to pay for your transgender medication or surgery but also is it your right to serve your country in the military and to enjoy the benefits that come with that, including education and healthcare and so on? Can you demand to be in the armed forces?Absolutely. Just like any other citizen. For example, people with disabilities should be provided with the support they need to go into the workplace, provided with the support to make sure they can achieve and do the job. The same as everybody else.Caroline, I'm interested in the way the politics of this is playing out because we used to see in America a lot of very emotional debates over abortion, late-term abortion became the issue after Rowe versus Wade, then gay people serving in the military was overcome. Do you think this taps into something different that is going to be immovable socially in America?No, I think it is about something else entirely. It is about hoult care. They don't have -- healthcare. They don't have universal healthcare. The only way poor families can sometimes get it is to join the military. Many, many people do, in their tens of thousands, join the US military to get access to what you and I would regard as the most basic services. My personal opinion is that if you are willing and able to lay down your life for your country, you should be entitled to do that. The problem of universal healthcare is what Donald Trump is really trying to dismantle. That is what this is about. It's about not wanting to pay for an operation for somebody who is serving in the military. He would pay for any other healthcare you needed in the military but he won't pay for this. You have to ask yourself why. That's a different question. But the issue is actually about healthcare.Chris, it has been pointed out that the American Defence Department spends more on Viagra than it does on hormone therapy for transgender service people but is there, just as some people go into the military so they get a free college education, that's part of the deal for them, could some individuals be going in for the healthcare, including possibly because they are thinking "I may want to transition". Is there any evidence of exploiting the system? 70% of people who enjoy the military join in high school. They don't necessarily know in high school what their gender identity is, what their sexuality is and what medical needs they have. They need a job. They're from small towns, poor families, our military goes to a whole range of socio-economic groups and the burden is mostly borne by the working class. The simple fact is that you join the military to get out of your small town, then these things unravel. You figure out your gender identity, sexuality and hope the military you serve and the President you serve under would support you in the life you lead. In this case, what we are seeing is the President creating a ban to try and kick out all 15,000 service members. To Kate's point, the military has already said they are waiting for the operating instructions to institute this policy. I think it is absolutely true tweets are not policy but it is clear the gears are moving here and something is coming in the pipe.This is becoming a similar debate, it seems, to that which emerged last year, certainly after the travel ban earlier this year, that opponents of Donald Trump were highlighting Muslim American service men and women, then they were highlighting Mexicans who were serving in the American armed forces and being deported and so on. Do those sorts of stories move mainstream suburban America much less the kind of poorer whiter voters that tended to support Donald Trump?I think stories of service matter. People who are willing, as Caroline said, to put their lives on the line in service of their country shouldn't have to lie as a condition of that service. I think Americans understand values. The fundamental value is to help and protect your country and that, if you are willing to do that, you shouldn't be discriminated against, you shouldn't be prejudiced and there shouldn't be an enimis against you.Most some being described as patriots wearing medals for my name, but that guy used to be a woman, I'm not comfortable with that?As professional service members, that's not their decision. We have a civilian-led military. Service members don't get to choose whether or not they serve with black or Jewish service members. That's not a choice they get to make. Their job is to be professionals in their job no matter who is standing next to them and fight side by side whether they are a woman, black, no matter what the situation is. If they are transgender, they should feel fortunate they have got someone covering their back.Kate Mills, do you think this fits into the process... It began with desegregation of the American armed forces. After the Second World War, the heads of the military waited until the conflict was over until they took what was seen as a controversial move, the more recent progress with the openly gay service men and women, waited until the war in Iraq was calming down before it was passed. Do you think it could just take a while to get used to?I think it is that. The military should reflect the wider society it serves. There is no reason to exclude certain people on any basis apart from particular crimes or there might be very specific reasons so I think it is a social issue. As people get more comfortable with it socially, you will see people become more comfortable with it, at work, be it in the military or other environments. I do think, Chris, I'd be interested to know what you think, whether there has been a particular focus on transgender within the Trump environment because this isn't the first time in the short period he has been in power that there have been moves against the transgender community. I'm thinking about the issues around bathrooms and students to access the bathroom of the gender they identify with which Obama brought in and the Education Secretary has taken out. It is clear there is an influx of evangelical Christians who have an agenda and Vice President Mike Pence is coordinating them to move the legislative agenda to the right. I don't think it is a coincidence we have two transgender issues as two of the most high profile issues in the first few days of the Trump Administration. I think it is targeted and calculated.Alastair, we sometimes see American social and political debates being played out in Australia as well but sometimes as well not with the same intensity. The abortion issue was always bigger in America than it was here, we haven't had the transgender issue playing out in terms of public bathrooms, schools and so on. Do you expect we will, though, as it becomes more prevalent, people feel more socially accepted and come out as trans?First of all, I'd like to say I agree with the panel, talking about ensuring when people join the military, same as any workplace, you need to treat them like every other individual. Here in Australia, there has been a lot of debate over the transgender issue and giving transgender people access to their basic human rights and just to go back a little bit, that example of the transgender policy before the American election, Trump was actually, you know, saying unpleasant things about a person with disability and writing things about people with disability. Unfortunately, we see that kind of marginalisation happening again and again with lots of different segments of the community. Interesting observation. Another story we want to talk about today, the British government has announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles, not until 2040, though. The UK is following the lead of French President Emmanuel Macron, although some countries have even more ambitious targets. Norway announced last year that petrol and diesel vehicles would be banned as soon as 2025. Motoring groups in the UK say the target is achievable but others have warned it will still put a big strain on the electricity grid and that, of course, could if it is not renewable add to carbon emissions? Is this a good idea, something we should be looking to replicate or unattended consequences, making people buy whatever we are driving in 2040?I'm a bit of a greenie on the subject of cars. I don't have one. I didn't even have a car when I lived in LA...Wow! Did you ever leave home?I didn't have a car in New York. I don't currently have one now. I'm not a big fan of cars. Cities work better without cars. When you live in an environment where you can walk to almost anything, you are a happier person, you're a healthier person. I'm not a big fan even of electric cars. There were a lot of them where I lived in California, in Santa Monica, they are creepy...You can't hear them coming!You can't, you are standing there, you turn around a $300,000 vehicle has crept up Batman-style behind you. I'm in favour of anything that makes our cities more walkable. I like those websites that offer you a walk-ability score when you are looking for a place to live, you can look up a walk-ability score. New York gets a 90. Sydney gets about a 10.Alastair, for people who are on low incomes, telling them that at an arbitrary point in the future you are not going to be able to buy a petrol car, you might have to get rid of your old car, people with mobility issues are dependent on motor vehicles to get around as well, how do you manage those considerations while also setting an ambitious target to help the environment? Firstly, I definitely agree with what Caroline says. I walk everywhere as well so the impact for me perhaps isn't so great but I think about the impact of those people with disability who can't access transport without a car or other types of transport, I think about the impact on them. At the same time, I also think about it will impact on people with disability. Others will assume they can just drive but we have to think about the people with disability and what it might mean for them.It's an interesting point, I guess, that both Caroline and Alastair are making because, Kate, we are assuming by this we will still be driving individual motor vehicles in 2040 and we are locking in that form of transport in a way?I think what's interesting about this discussion is everything about the car is up for grabs at the moment. There is automation. The sharing of cars. Will we own our own cars or share cars? Now we have the electric car. When I look at transport, what you need to try and do is have as many different types of transport people can tap into, bearing the need to walk and remain healthy. Queensland has announced it is going to put in charge points all the way up the coast in order to support the electric car. I think the electric car is coming. I suspect it will be slower in Australia than the UK. That's a lot to do with density. Australia is such a large country, distances in between, how do you put the infrastructure in that allows people to drive with electric cars? I think they are coming but I think we will use less cars in the future as we become a more dense population.Is this something government should be mandating or should the market decide and simply say at some point when petrol is too expensive or people become concerned enough with the environment, they will be driving electric, hybrid or hydroen cell cars but you don't mandate it?I think it is a role for government because there is also an issue of air quality. We talk about electric cars and self-driving cars but the reality is most people don't have them. Most people have gas-guzzling cars or diesel guzzling cars, you have to address the environmental impacts. One of the reasons London is moving towards it, is the air quality is so poor. China is moving on renewables because of the impact of air quality. Kate is right, there is a density issue, Australia to scale is very different than Britain but the fact is that, in any city, there is going to be an impact on the environment so government does have a role in regulating air quality when that comes to cars.We talked about Norway and France and Britain setting these targets, what about your home country, imagine the good old boys in Colorado giving up their pick-up trucks for an electric vehicle?We love our big cars but the simple fact is also they can't support everything forever. At some point you have got States like California that, when they regulate, that has an impact on the entire world and the way they regulate because it is such a large market. There are ways the market can work for you.Can I just say quickly, if you look at what's happening in other countries like Germany and Norway, it is the market that has driven it, not regulation. It is cheaper in those countries to charge your car by electricity than put petrol in it.That could be because there are lots of taxes being put on fossil fuels which is another form of government interference. Absolutely. As cheaper cars come on, you begin to look at price points, that's what changes people's behaviour. Ideally the government and the market work together. The government flags "This is what long-term policy should look like" and sends the messages down and we respond to it.Before we run out of time tonight, I want to talk about the future of our workplaces and the jobs in them. The days you would go to school, get a trade or a degree, go into a job and stay in their job until your retirement, those days are long gone. A new study from the Foundation for Young Australians says a 15-year-old today can look forward to not only having 17 different employers but five distinct careers over the space of their working life. The study looked at 20 billion hours of work done by 12 million Australians to try and figure out what the workforce is going to look like in 2030. There is some good news and bad news. We will be constantly learning new skills on the job but at least we won't have as many bosses. Less managers means we will more flexible, independent and entrepreneurial as well. Bad news if you don't have a head for numbers. The study says we will spend 77% more time using maths and science skills. Knowing your way around technology will be very important in the future. With automation and artificial intelligence already taking jobs, this report predicts we will be spending three hours less per week doing manual roles such as cleaning. But that time will be freed up. It will mean we will be spending more time with people, spending more on cognitive tasks or what we used to call thinking, which sounds good. We will all be doing a lot more problem solving at work, they say. I'll believe that when I see it. It does say in all of this, Alastair, an example they use in the study is teachers will spend less time grading their students' papers because computers will be able to work out what's a 75% grade and 65% grade but they will spend more time in face-to-face teaching. It sounds good but then others would argue that, with e-learning and so on, more people are doing remote learning and learning via computers anyway. Who do we believe in all of this? Which vision of the future do you see?Well, yes, sometimes I wonder... I think technology can be fantastic but then there is more time fixing up technology and worrying about ensuring that technology is actually working smoothly and it can waste a bit of time. But at the same time, we have to remember that technology will help improve our lives. But how it will do that, we don't know. (LAUGHS)That's true. There does seem to be a few contradictory messages because they are saying people will do with people are best at, dealing with other people and we will be spending time as typewriter monkeys, putting information in that computers.The report is full of words I don't like, like flexible. I think it's definitely true that our children, my children, will do jobs that don't even exist today, for sure. But what are we doing to our workforce? What I really worry about is how much we're going to lose in all of this flexibility. We are already talking about taking kids on as interns and not paying them. Jobs that used to be trainer jobs, that you used to get money for. Making everyone part of the casual workforce so you no longer get your holidays, your public holidays, you don't get your holiday loading any more, hardly anyone gets that. These are the foundation principles upon which Australia was built, that we take care of our workforce, we don't exploit our workforce, don't exploit our young people, we will train you for the jobs of the future. That's what I worry about more than what my kids will be doing. It's more who is going to exploit them?Kate, I'm interested in your view. In terms of the 17 different jobs, five different careers, are we really going to start off as a journalist, become a plumber, then become a brain surgeon, a nuclear physicist and then go into furniture restoration all in the space of 45 years?Sounds like an amazing career if you leave the ABC! I both like and love these reports. I like them because what they flag as the basis, education and skills. I dislike them because of the amount of fear I think they set into people. There is always this idea around technology "The robots are coming, we are not going to have any more jobs". When you peel away what's going on with technology, it is about changing our jobs. Working alongside robots. I look forward to the day when the robot does the boring part of my job and allows me to talk to people. The skills we need to focus on in schools are what we don't focus on, empathy. We look at people to become lawyers or specialists, we don't train them to be people who are good at talking or listening to other people.As an academic, how should this affect the way we teach kids? If they are having so many careers, how do you start picking your optional subjects in Year 10?There aren't many reports I think are an endorsement of a Bachelor in Arts but, I've got to say, I think this was. Critical thinking, problem solving, working with people, developing empathy...Maths and science too, though.It is but you curate that kind of critical thinking in problem solving in a Bachelor of Arts edegree. You need your maths and science. I think it is all part of the thing. But the principle that you can avoid arts, that it is useless to work in arts, where you do critical analysis, if you take one of my classes, that's all you do - sorry to put a plug in - but that's what you do. I think this report sends a strong message about the interdisciplinairit of education and the need to leverage that as you move forward.If we are going to have so many different careers, should we be getting to it earlier? If we are going to have continuing education, should we be leaving school at 15 and doing more manual tasks when we are fit, then at 25 doing accounting and then at 50 going into journalism?We are going to live longer and have much longer careers. Lots of things need to change so degrees need to become shorter, funding that allows people to access life-long learning, all the things Caroline was talking about. If you are working in short-term jobs, how do you get income protection, a mortgage? Those things need to change. That's why I like these reports, it reminds us what we do. On Chris's point, the skill you have is the empathy, the critical thinking and you fit that into the role rather than changing from a plumber to a brain surgeon. We are all going to do a BA. The future is not far away, just 13 years. That is it for another edition of The Drum. Thank you to Alastair McEwin, Kate Mills, Chris Pepin-Neff and Caroline Overington and thanks to our Auslan interpreter Kathy Wright. On Monday, tune in for a special on the NDIS. I hope you can join us then, the same time tomorrow and I will see you on Friday night for the Trump-tastic edition of Planet America. Goodnight. This program is not captioned.