Bureaucrats need a ‘safe space’ at work and can’t say ‘guys’ or ‘wife’
Bureaucrats need a ‘safe space’ at work and can’t say ‘guys’ or ‘wife’

Treasury fat cats in PC language push amid NSW financial crisis

Despite the state's worst economic crisis in almost a century, NSW treasury bureaucrats are busy with lessons on adding their "pronoun preference" to their emails and PC language training, including being told not to use the word "guys".

But the training sessions - which also tell staff to avoid mentioning "husbands" or "wives" for fear of offence and to use the phrase "hi folks" instead of "ladies and gentlemen" - have been blasted as "unbelievable" while the state is in such a dire financial black hole.

NSW Treasury's Economic Strategy Deputy Secretary Joann Wilkie sent an official message to all staff saying they need to "create a safe space" in the workplace, following an internal day of "Wear It Purple" training.

But One Nation MP Mark Latham says treasury staff should be focused on "jobs, jobs, jobs" during this recession, not "PC word games" and "American terms".

In her message to treasury staff, Ms Wilkie said the "Treasury Pride Network" had been involved in a training session about the LGBTIQA+ community and she listed "some of the things we can all do to help create a safe space".

NSW Treasury’s Economic Strategy and Productivity Deputy Secretary Joann Wilkie. Picture: Richard Dobson
NSW Treasury’s Economic Strategy and Productivity Deputy Secretary Joann Wilkie. Picture: Richard Dobson


"Things like adding a pronoun preference to your signature block," she told staff.

"And not assuming when you're talking to a colleague that they are heterosexual/cisgendered/endosex, so use 'partner' rather than 'wife' or 'husband' and use an introduction like 'welcome folks' rather than 'hi guys' (I need to work on this one) or 'good morning ladies and gentlemen'."

However Mr Latham said in the midst of a deep recession, the people of NSW were expecting treasury staff to be working "non-stop on job creation".

The nation has suffered the biggest financial contraction since the 1930 Great Depression, and NSW has taken the biggest hit of all the states, with our demand falling 8.6 per cent.

Since March, 707,000 jobs have been destroyed across the nation, with household consumption falling 12.7 per cent and discretionary spending dropping by a quarter.

One Nation MP Mark Latham. Picture: Richard Dobson
One Nation MP Mark Latham. Picture: Richard Dobson

 

"Not engaging in PC word games, introducing American terms like 'welcome folks' and abolishing the use of 'ladies and gentlemen' and 'husband and wife'," Mr Latham said.

"Wilkie would be on $250,000 a year, plus, working in an economics department, one of the safest workplaces in the country.

"The notion of needing a safe space is ridiculous.

"She should do her day job of 'economic strategy and productivity' instead of insulting the thousands of business owners who have closed down and the hundreds of thousands of workers who have lost their jobs with her work priority of safe spaces and PC-word training."

IPA western civilisation program director Bella d'Abrera said the NSW Treasury should be "focussed on getting Australians back to work rather than worrying about its staff using wife or husband".

"On the one side we have mainstream Australians who are losing their livelihoods while on the other we have senior bureaucrats who have the luxury of fretting about creating 'safe spaces' and politically correct email tags," she said.

"Australian taxpayers should not be paying for the NSW Treasury to indulge in identity politics when it should be focussing on getting the state back up and running.

"We are in the middle of an economic crisis.

"Worrying about who uses the words 'wife' or 'husband' is exactly the wrong thing for the NSW Treasury to be focussing on at the moment."

In 2016, former army chief David Morrison was ridiculed when he tried to tell Australians to stop using the word "guy" as part of a Diversity Council of Australia campaign.

Mr Latham said NSW will be in a deep recession for many years to come if this sort of training was occupying the time of bureaucrats.

It is understood treasury staff also recently ran a "Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan" conference recently, about indigenous issues and attended by top bureaucrats.

"There are no extra jobs in language control," Mr Latham said.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Picture: Bianca De Marchi
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet. Picture: Bianca De Marchi

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet would not answer questions on whether he now planned to put his pronouns in his emails.

He also would not reveal if he now plans to stop referring to his "wife" and swap the phrase "folks" for "guys" and "ladies and gentlemen".

Instead he said all large organisations in both public and private sectors "will have plans around inclusion".

"All people should be treated with respect and feel safe in the workplace as a matter of course," he said.

"I have instructed treasury that their focus be on preparing the budget, helping create jobs for the tens of thousands of people doing it tough, and supporting business."

Originally published as Treasury fat cats in PC language push amid NSW financial crisis



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