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