Fifth Column

Slithering Towards Apartheid

In her maiden speech to the Queensland parliament in 2015, Leanne Enoch (above, now Queensland’s Minister for Treaty, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Minister for Communities and Minister for the Arts—and now workplace segregation) said that a great source of influence was Eric Deeral, the first indigenous member of the Queensland parliament and a conservative. In practice, her work is much more influenced by D.F. Malan, the first apartheid-era Prime Minister of South Africa. Ms Enoch has held departmental staff meetings when she has required non-indigenous staff to leave those meetings. What better way to lead a department whose stated raison d’être is to form partnerships between indigenous Queenslanders and the broader population than by workplace segregation?  

In an act of astounding chutzpah, this “proud Nunukul/Nughi woman” made an allegation of “borderline racism” against MP John-Paul Langbroek, who had dared question her about the wisdom of dividing workplaces by race. How calling out segregation, which any sane person would see as identifying and refuting racism, is somehow “borderline racism”, is a mystery that only Ms Enoch can solve.

This essay appears in October’s Quadrant.
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By Ms Enoch’s admission she has engaged in workplace segregation on a number of occasions. She justifies it through “cultural practices”: “It may be a bit unusual for departments to fully appreciate that those cultural practices are being upheld, but I’m not going to bend those cultural practices at the detriment of my own cultural safety.” Segregation was also a “cultural practice” in many places in the West until it was stamped out by those with a conscience. 

I have long suspected that in the modern context “cultural safety” has never been anything other than a weaponisation of race, but everyone now knows what cultural safety means in practice. It was not a leaked comment or email brought to the public’s attention through alternative media—it was the minister herself, and the Director of the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DSDSATSIP) agrees with her. Cultural safety doesn’t just mean not having symbols like the Australian flag or a picture of the King around that somehow risk giving indigenous people anxiety attacks. Apparently the very presence of a non-indigenous person is a threat to safety. Consequently, it’s tickety-boo to exclude non-indigenous people from workplaces to ensure “cultural safety”. 

Apartheid is now policy. Ms Enoch and the administration she serves has institutionalised racism, and not just in the culture of the public service or its systematic practice. Queensland’s new reprehensible racism, like South Africa’s old apartheid, is backed by laws, rules and regulations. Public service recruiting and selection policies require the promotion of cultural safety, and encourage and allow discriminatory advertising and selection. There is a policy of “Reframing the relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”. This doesn’t mean a colour-blind future. It means building a race-based hierarchy, the sort of hierarchy that took much blood and sweat to tear down.

I’ve spoken to several people who were ejected from one meeting. They were shocked, dismayed and disappointed. DSDSATSIP staff are mostly social-justice-warrior types, so they thought that being “allies” to indigenous people, this wouldn’t happen to them. But now many have come to realise that race is all that matters, so there is nothing they can do about it. No demonstration of good will and concern will ever be enough.

Why should this segregation be limited only to the workplace? The minister’s racist actions will only embolden those inclined to exclude non-indigenous people from other practices and places.

It was reported to me that some indigenous staff members were horrified by the minister’s behaviour and unhappy about the double standard, and apologised to their colleagues. This is brave and I understand their shame. Being a police officer at the time of the killing of George Floyd I felt somehow responsible and that it reflected on me, despite the fact I had nothing to do with it and condemned the incident. For the many indigenous people who read this and feel ashamed at the racism being done in their names, know that you are no more responsible for Ms Enoch than I am for Derek Chauvin.

Many are taking advantage of the new reality. I know of a middle-ranked indigenous bureaucrat who complained that the workplace was “culturally unsafe”. The assertion was taken seriously by the manager, a well-intentioned person who believes woke shibboleths. Meetings were arranged to find out what it meant. Did someone say or do something wrong? Was there some other dynamic, identifiable only by indigenous people, that needed to be fixed? Meetings were held, “cultural experts” invited, but the aggrieved bureaucrat didn’t turn up. Bending over backwards to placate the bureaucrat, the manager asked if a smoking ceremony for the workplace would fix the problem and the bureaucrat said yes. The ceremony was organised at cost to Queensland taxpayers, but the bureaucrat didn’t even turn up to the smoking ceremony. These incidents make it difficult, even for those inclined to give the benefit of the doubt, to treat allegations of a lack of “cultural safety” seriously. This weaponisation of people’s good will against them can only have the long-term effect of eroding that good will.

Separatist racism has been articulated in law, policy and procedure. Section 27 of the Public Sector Act 2022 places a duty on every member of the public service to enforce equity and diversity, which is to say woke ideology, in the workplace. There is also justification to hold indigenous people to different standards. Discipline Directive 05/23 section 4.4 says:

Under chapter 1, part 3 of the Act, reframing entities have a unique role in supporting the State government in reframing its relationship with Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples by fulfilling certain responsibilities. Under section 21, the chief executive of a reframing entity is responsible for ensuring the entity fulfils this role. Chief executives must consider these responsibilities when applying and making decisions under the Act and Commissioner directives.

The same will apply to other protected minorities as per Discipline Directive 05/23 sections 4.5 and 4.6: 

4.5 Under chapters 2 and 3 of the Act chief executives of public sector entities have a duty to promote equity and diversity in relation to employment matters, which includes in the application of and making of decisions under the Act and Commissioner directives.

4.6 In addition to any specific requirements in this directive, chief executives of public sector entities are required to consider ways to support accessibility and inclusion for employees when undertaking processes, or applying provisions, under this directive. 

This is simple intersectionality, an attempt to unite against the common foe, straight white men, who are evil not because of anything they have done, but because of the immutable characteristics they hold. 

Further, there is an explicit rejection of competence as a foundation for disciplinary action.  Section 91(4) of the Public Sector Act specifically articulates:

To remove any doubt, it is declared that a disciplinary ground does not arise in relation to a public sector employee only because the employee’s work performance or personal conduct fails to satisfy the work performance and personal conduct principles or the public sector principles.

There are actions which will be subject to discipline, but a lack of competence is not one of them. 

There are bloated ethics and integrity sections in each department and one of the functions of the Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) is to oversee them all to ensure the rules are being obeyed and to police the “culture” of the public service. If these bodies that cost millions and employ thousands can’t regulate a bureaucrat’s work performance or personal conduct, what precisely will they be doing? They will be enforcing ideology. Every bureaucrat—not just ethics and integrity officers or staff at the OIR—will become a political commissar.

Ethics sections and the OIR need something to justify their existence and they will soon have plenty to do. Diversity, Inclusion, Equity—which is to say wokeism and positive discrimination for indigenous people in all circumstances—is now official policy for the public service. Not being woke clearly falls into the category of serious misconduct. Fair Work Regulation 1.07 defines serious misconduct as:

conduct that is wilful or deliberate and that is inconsistent with the continuation of the employment contract. It is also conduct that causes serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of a person or to the reputation, viability or profitability of the employer’s business and/or effect on safety and welfare of other employees.

Now in effect all workplaces must be “safe spaces”. Safety doesn’t just include protection from physical or psychological harm. It includes culture. 

It won’t be long before some public servant will be charged with serious misconduct and sacked for doing something like “misgendering” someone or doing something that some indigenous racist finds offensive, like speaking up against segregated meetings or saying they don’t agree with constitutional change. I use the referendum example specifically because the Voice is being explicitly advocated through DSDSATSIP communications. The matter is going to referendum and there is nothing more political than that. I am aware of specific instances where former executive members of DSDSATSIP were reported to ethics and integrity units for overt advocacy of constitutional change through departmental communications but this somehow was deemed not to breach the political neutrality requirements of the Code of Conduct. 

Ms Enoch hasn’t broken any laws, policy, procedure or directives. She’s upholding them. If safety means not being exposed to non-indigenous people, so be it. This can’t even be called a conspiracy, and not just because it’s in plain sight, because a conspiracy is by definition collusion to do something unlawful. Segregation is justified, excused and arguably even encouraged by law.

This introduction of apartheid at all levels of public administration, from recruitment through training, culture and practice has resulted in breathtaking levels of ideological indoctrination of the public service. Think of what is being incentivised and rewarded. The lazy and incompetent are going to be protected and the reporting of anything not politically correct will be rewarded. 

It’s a deviously brilliant move on behalf of this administration. First, create dependence on government through a massive expansion of employment in the bureaucracy and non-government organisations that rely on government funding and are subject to public service directives. Then turn every employee into what is in effect a political officer, an ideological commissar who goes around policing speech and deed everywhere they go.

I can even admire the sheer scale and success of what has been achieved. It won’t matter who wins the next few elections in Queensland. Even if Ms Enoch loses her seat and the administration she serves loses government, her ideology will remain in power. 

Martin Lynch is a Queensland police officer. He has written several articles for Quadrant based on his work among Aboriginal communities

20 thoughts on “Slithering Towards Apartheid

  • john mac says:

    That we even Have a “Minister for Treaty, Aboriginal and TSI , communities .. oh , and the Arts” is the problem .How over worked she must be ! How about “Minister for Grievances” and leave it at that . BTW , If I didn’t know , I’d have though she was 100% Caucasian .

    • mattmoloney says:

      Thanks so much for your insightful comment. The reason the arts is in is because it gives her control of information release. Every bit of tax payer funded/sponsored/displayed art in Queensland will needs to be politically correct.

      • john mac says:

        Yes Matt , was going to expand my thoughts on the “Arts” part of her portfolio . which would give her power (and pleasure) to promote Indigenous “art” over general art , and perhaps punish those non indigenous for venturing into whatever they consider their own style . Propaganda by stealth .

    • call it out says:

      She’s whiter than me, thanks to my migrant grandparents. So it is not even about how white or not you are, it is about just one thing….power.

    • cbattle1 says:

      I also made the mistake of not seeing her as a “Black” woman.

  • ghaycroft says:

    This article gets to the core of the real political divide in Australia. It is not dissimilar in the US and GB. It is not entirely about bureaucracy and the rules under which they operate per se but if we focus on that then much of what we see in Health Education and law and order failures can be sheeted back to those rules. When a ratio of nurse to administrators of ten to one delivers 1st world health care elsewhere what has happened that we need ten bureaucrat administrators for every ten nurses here in Australia? Exactly. Equity and diversity of the bureaucrats, not competence, get prioritised over the health outcomes of those paying the bureaucrats. About time somebody pointed this out. Your next article Martyn should be about what we need to do to turn this around.

  • ianl says:

    >”There are actions [within the State Public Service] which will be subject to discipline, but a lack of competence is not one of them”< [from the article above by Martin L]

    That's the end of Australia as a meritorious country. This, combined with the Voice (which I still expect will get up) and the Misinformation/Disinformation Act, completely overwhelms rationality. Whether one regards this as a disaster or not hinges on one's degree of competence, I suspect.

  • rosross says:

    If power is handed to you then use it. If you do not have enough power then create more. How did we get to this racist, nasty place?

  • Daffy says:

    Now, I’m guessing that cultural safety would mean protection from practices in a culture that are unsafe: Perhaps Capt. Tench’s book ‘Sydney’s First Four Years” could provide a guide.
    Does the minister plan to repudiate the contributions of the British to our modern culture? Will she start wearing a bark lap skirt and nothing else? Give up the mobile phones? Stick to the dirt not the road? Could make for a very interesting workplace…or not!

  • BalancedObservation says:

    Who actually determines whether the particular exclusions are warranted? Is it some greater authority which is above political bias?
    And what are the criteria they use to exclude on the basis of race? For example in what situations is it warranted? How are those criteria measured? Are they measurable at all?
    Or is it just based on the ideology or the feelings of the person with the authority to exclude without any measured accountability?
    These questions are important because we are talking about the workings of a government body.
    There are parallels with this in the exclusion of opinions in our mainstream traditional media and mainstream social media and the often lack of accountability or transparency involved.
    There was an illuminating article worth reading on the ABC news site : “Voice to Parliament referendum ‘prime target’ for foreign interference on Elon Musk’s X”. To me it reveals far more than it may have intended to reveal. If you care about these issues I urge you to read it in full.
    It was illuminating to me because a former Twitter executive decried how bad it was that X ( formerly Twitter) no longer involved itself in partnerships with other organisations like lobby group Reset.Australia or the government Australian Strategic Policy Institute to censor tweets. And not only to censor tweets but to “elevate” credible expert sources. In other words to not only censor but also manipulate how tweets appeared based on consultations with groups like lobby group Reset.Australia.
    There obviously used to be a higher level of censorship and manipulation of comments on Twitter before it became X when Elon Musk bought it.
    The man quoted in the article making the criticisms of X was, Yoel Roth, who used to be a senior member of the team which banned Donald Trump from Twitter. Trump who arguably had the support of around 50% of the US population. It seemed to me that the implication in the article was that as Roth was a key member of the team which banned Trump it somehow added to Roth’s credibility.
    So this gives us a glimpse of what used to go on behind the scenes of Twitter, mainly, the article claims, to stop foreign interference from countries like China and Russia. Yet the same process banned Donald Trump from Twitter. A man who arguably had the support of roughly half the US population.
    How politically unbiased are those making such important censoring and manipulation decisions behind the scenes? Should a government body be involved in such actions when many tweets for example may be criticising the government? Should there be an audit trail of such censorship actions especially when it’s known no foreign power was involved?

  • Jackson says:

    “Martin Lynch”, I hope this is your pseudonym, else I fear your days in QldPol are numbered. If not, I hope that the post-Joh Whistleblower Protection provisions are worth the paper they are written on. This is a courageous and invaluable piece you have written, and you are to be commended for it.
    And thankyou, Quadrant, for continuing to be the small corner in which honest common-sense-based views can still be written and discussed.

  • Libertarian says:

    Hang on?

    Does this mean I don’t have to turn up to meetings if there’s someone there who identifies as indigenous?

    To promote departmental racial awareness goals.


    Leanne Enoch calling herself a “proud Nunukul/Nughi woman” or a Quandamooka woman is blatant sycophantic virtue signalling. It’s like me calling myself a proud Frenchman because of my part Huguenot ancestry. As to the audacity of requiring ‘non-indigenous’ staff to leave meetings, this would be like me asking council members identifying as Catholic to leave a council meeting because my Huguenot ancestors were Protestants.

  • leabrae says:

    Susan Sontag, an egregious American intellectual, in 1967, wrote that “The white race is the cancer of history. . . .” That, I suppose, is Ms. Enoch’s starting point.

  • Solo says:

    The people who were asked to leave should have refused. If they were dragged out, they should have then taken their employer to court for discrimination. This silliness should be heckled and harangued until its ended. The fact we have a minister for treaty is absurd.

  • Bernie Masters says:

    I wonder how the indigenous bureaucrat sleeps at night. Their situation reminds me of Lady Macbeth who, in her dreams, spoke in her sleep ‘Out damned spot’. I doubt the bureaucrat is a full-blood Aboriginal so how does they sleep at night knowing they have non-Indigenous blood in their veins and non-Indigenous DNA in every cell of their body: their very life must be ‘culturally unsafe’ because of their mixed race heritage!

  • Michael Waugh says:

    Thanks Martin.
    I expect Ms Enoch is in breach of the Race Discrimination Act. She ‘s certainly in serious breach of the spirit of that Act. The irony is exquisite. Ms Enoch should be sentenced to watching Yes Minister, not once or twice or even thrice, which would be simple joy if she were intelligent, but hundreds of times until she understands her silliness. But, more earnestly, her silliness is dangerous. We are sliding toward some form of Orwellian nightmare.

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