Taxpayers are helping fund what critics including Tony Abbott call a politically correct “thought police” campaign to eliminate “gender-inappropriate” words such as “guys”, “mankind” and “chairman” in the workplace.
The Diversity Council Australia is working to persuade corporations, government departments and other employers to adopt its Words At Work campaign which, it says, aims at “building inclusion through the power of language”.
DCA’s campaign document says: “Imagine a world in which sexist language was replaced by racist language. Instead of saying ‘chairman’ or ‘you guys’, people would use ‘chairwhite’ and ‘you whiteys’. If we cringe at ‘you whiteys’ and would protest such terms, why don’t we work as hard at changing ‘you guys’.”
DCA chair and former chief of army David Morrison, who was controversially made Australian of the Year largely for his speech against misogyny in the military, chastises an example where a male employee addresses female staff as “girls”.
The DCA website says the organisation is “not government-funded”. “Its income is generated from membership fees, sponsorships and services to business/employers,” the website says.
Qantas ‘should be applauded’
But a large number of DCA’s 450 fee-paying members are state and federal departments, and government-owned agencies and corporations.
Federal agencies include ASIO, Airservices Australia, the ABC, SBS, the Department of Home Affairs, the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Department of Human Services.
State agencies include NSW Police, Queensland Health, the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, and the West Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
The campaign caused a storm yesterday when it was revealed Qantas had adopted it, advising staff not to refer to the “settlement” of Australia by the British but instead “colonisation”, “occupation” or “invasion”. Qantas employees are also warned against using terms such as “husband” and “wife” and “mum and dad”, “which can reinforce the idea that people are always in heterosexual relationships”.
Mr Abbott said it was “political correctness that’s gone way over the top”.
“Frankly, if companies like Qantas want to give customers a better deal, they can scrap all these inclusion units … it’s just rubbish this idea that we need a corporate thought police,” he told radio station 2GB.