New South Wales (NSW) Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has said that it is “completely unacceptable” for public service staff to be lectured on neutral gender pronouns while the state works towards economic recovery amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We can’t have people get rid of their own identities for other people’s inclusion,” Perrottet told 2GB radio on Sept. 7.
The treasurer was responding to an official email sent by Joann Wilkie, the NSW treasury’s economic strategy deputy secretary. In the email Wilkie encouraged staff to add a “pronoun preference” to their email signature to notify colleagues of the pronoun they’d like to be addressed by, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Further, the email suggested phrases such as “hey guys” should be replaced by “welcome folks” to “create a safe space” at work.
The official message came after the department ran an internal training session called “Wear it Purple Training” focusing on issues related to supporting young LGBTQIA+ individuals.
During the training, staff were encouraged not to refer to their spouses as “husband” or “wife” so that those identifying as gender-diverse, cisgender, or endosex are not offended.
Cisgenders are individuals who find their identity corresponds to their natural-born gender, while endosex is when a person’s physical characteristics match what is generally expected of a male or female.
Perrottet dismissed the terminology, saying he had no idea what endosex was. He went on to further say, “I don’t care if people call their spouse husband, wife, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, darling, honey, babe.”
“We wouldn’t have Father’s Day if we keep going down this path, because some people don’t have a father …” he added.
Perrottet has instructed treasury to instead focus on preparing the next state budget, supporting business, and how to creates jobs for “tens of thousands of people doing it tough.”
Queensland Liberal Senator Matthew Canavan was also critical of the treasury’s training saying to Nine News on Sept. 7 that he thought the pandemic would “get rid of all these fake problems,” referring to issues around gender-neutral pronouns. He said the country needed to focus on dealing with the pandemic.
The Epoch Times reached out to Equality Australia for commentary on Perrottet and Canavan’s remarks but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Currently, the Australian federal government is in the process of developing a new and updated style manual for the public service—the first since 2002—that urges the use of more inclusive language.
Presently in the beta stage where public commentary is sought the new Style Guide explains public service officials should use gender-neutral language and find out a person preferred pronoun.
It also included suggestions to use the honorific Mx for those staff who identify as non-binary people and those who do not wish to be referred to by their gender.