(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)
(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

Working from Home Affairs What is it with the Department of Home Affairs and dress codes? While the department specifically denied* reports we received a while back regarding office-wide bans on high heels and polka dots, it’s clearly something of a fixation there. The Canberra Times reports that Home Affairs has failed in its attempt to push through new workplace policies without consulting its workforce. Among them was an update to the dress code ruling sleeveless tops, dresses and blouses “unsuitable” for the workplace, and extending this to people working from home.

The Fair Work Commission decision called the department “short-sighted”– presumably because of the lack of consultation, not on account of their fashion choices.

*This was back before the communications team there was so unresponsive as to attract the attention of the Australian National Audit Office.

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Stacks on! This week Mary Wooldridge was announced as the new director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Wooldridge also happened to have been a Victorian member of parliament for the Liberals for 13 years, and a member of the party since 1987. It’s so refreshing to see the government finally do the same thing for gender agencies it’s been doing for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Fair Work Commission for years.

To be fair on Wooldridge, she is a former minister of women’s affairs and has suggested (albeit upon her retirement) the Liberal Party consider gender quotas, so it’s not as bizarre an appointment as some.

The right’s finest minds Yesterday, The Australian reported on the emergence of a new journal of “controversial ideas” led by Professor Peter Singer, which will (sigh) push back against cancel culture, in part by allowing researchers to publish under pseudonyms — thus freeing them to discuss difficult ideas without putting their careers in jeopardy or “suffering intimidation on social media”.

Today comes an approving think piece from Claire Lehmann, founder of “intellectual dark web” publication Quillette. Under the heading “What’s in a pen name? Freedom to think in the age of Digital Big Brother”, Lehmann argues pseudonyms are a great way of withholding data from big tech and that “there are often good reasons for people to conceal their identities that have nothing to do with abuse or trolling”. Fair point. But then she goes on to say:

We have published writers under pseudonyms at the online magazine I founded, Quillette, but only after verifying the author’s real identity.

Which would have been a really easy thing to not specifically say. Back in 2019, Quillette published a piece under the byline “Archie Carter”. Carter described himself as a Marxist-Leninist construction worker and his argument was that the Democratic Socialists of America was doomed as an organisation, partly because of (you guessed it) a fixation with “inclusivity”, pronouns and “feminist procedures” were alienating to the fellow working men he brought along to meetings. In other words, a slice of fried gold for a publication so averse to identity politics and leftist orthodoxy.

You see where we’re going with this. Carter was a fake name and the article was a hoax, an attempt by some guy in Chicago to pass the “ideological Turing test”.

The uncomfortable chair Yesterday we asked whether the rest of the world would be as credulous as our media have proved to be in response to the Morrison government’s nominal climate change policy. The world has swiftly replied. First there was a representative of US President Joe Biden with a diplomatic but unmistakable slam on Australia’s “insufficient” trajectory on climate change action.

Possibly related — Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss said she was going to sit Australia’s “inexperienced” Trade Minister Dan Tehan “in an uncomfortable chair, so he has to deal with her directly for nine hours”, complaining of “glacial progress” in trade deals. While the topic of climate change wasn’t specifically raised in this backgrounding, Britain’s intention to establish climate tariffs on their trade deals have long been a sticking point between the two countries.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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