‘Speech police’: NSW Treasury staff told to avoid words such as ‘husband, wife’

Sep 07, 2020
An email was sent out to NSW Treasury staff following a recent training day. Source: Getty.

Politicians have spoken out in frustration today after it was reported that the NSW Treasury had advised staff against using non-inclusive words such as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, ‘guys’ and ‘ladies and gentleman’, in a bid to avoid causing any offence.

According to the Daily Telegraph, treasury staff were sent an email which called on them to create a “safe space” in the workplace, following an internal ‘Wear It Purple’ training day. Instead of using greetings such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, staff were encouraged to use phrases such as ‘welcome/hi folks’.

Listing some things people could do to promote a more inclusive workplace, the email suggested: “Things like adding a pronoun preference to your signature block. 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’.”

The email has divided opinion, however, particularly in light of the ongoing pandemic and the economic impact it has had on Australia.

Many have implied the request – which included the suggestion that staff should add their pronoun preference to their email signature – is an example of political correctness gone mad, including NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrotet who described the move as “completely unacceptable”.

Speaking to Ben Fordham on 2GB’s breakfast show on Monday, Perrotet vowed to raise the issue with the Treasury secretary so that staff could describe their spouses using whatever term they want.

“I don’t care if people call their spouse husband, wife, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, darling, honey, babe,” he told Fordham.

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While NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham branded the notion as “ridiculous”. He told the Telegraph: “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.”

Pollies from other states also weighed in on the matter, including Queensland Senator Matthew Canavan who described the politically correct push as a waste of taxpayer cash.

“This is your taxes, your taxes are going to this rubbish, this speech police,” he told the Today show, according to news.com.au. “I thought pandemic would get rid of all these fake problems because we’ve actually got real a problem to deal with right now. The sooner we move away from this stuff the better.”

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