From time to time, a media outlet makes a contribution to the news cycle so egregious that Crikey feels it simply cannot go unnoticed, unremarked or, indeed, unrewarded. And with that in mind, Seven News Sydney is this year’s first recipient of a Wankley Award for a very shoddy go at the brief flash of outrage last week at Queensland reportedly removing gender descriptions from its drivers’ licences.

Brisbane’s Courier Mail sparked the story last week when it “obtained” documents that reported on complaints from the LGBTI community that had apparently prompted bureaucrats to scrap the gender description on drivers’ licences.

In an attempt to localise the story, Seven News in Sydney ran a short item in its Friday evening bulletin, quoting the New South Wales Roads Minister Melinda Pavey.

Newsreader Michael Usher told viewers: “NSW will not follow changes in QLD where drivers licences will no longer identify a person’s gender … our Roads Minister says it won’t happen here.”

Cut to the minister herself: “Not under my watch. As far as I’m concerned we have male drivers and we have female drivers and I have no plans to make any changes.”

The thing is, though, New South Wales drivers (like those in most states) haven’t had their gender labelled on their drivers’ licences for many years. Seven posted the story on Twitter, but deleted it after quite a few users pointed out that it wasn’t exactly what we in the journalism business call “an actually correct piece of news”.

Crikey understands the comments Pavey made were meant to refer to the requirement on an application form to identify your gender, not what appears on the photo licence itself. A spokeswoman for the minister said: “The minister has no plans to change NSW licenses, including its application process where it is a requirement to provide personal information including the applicant’s gender.”

Seven did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Peter Fray

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