PSsst! The style police are here

By The Mandarin

Thursday November 18, 2021

You know who you are.(Mykola Komarovskyy/Adobe)

Sock it to me

With lockdowns lifting across jurisdictions, a focus for many departments is on how returning to the office will work.

One commonwealth agency in Canberra has turned that focus onto what staff will wear.

The agency in question is full of scientists and the IT crowd — whom you’d usually find turning up to work on any given day in socks and crocs. 

The HR team recently issued a missive to all staff with directions on suitable attire for the office and meetings, and some handy things to think about.

Headings on the staff letter, with clear instructions below each of them, included:

Is my clothing appropriate for the working (sic) being undertaken?

Is my clothing respectful and professional?

Needless to say, there has been a little bit of pushback from the staff, some of whom feel they are being treated like school kids.

But when those views have been expressed in return intranet chats with comments such as “I think we’re old enough to know how to dress ourselves,” HR has immediately flagged them as troublemakers. Hmm.

Pandemic parliamentarians

Speaking of lockdowns lifting, it seems everyone in Canberra knows about it except the people running Parliament House. 

The ACT has recently eased most of the pandemic-induced restrictions that were in place, considerably freeing up the community in the wake of exceptionally high vaccine rates.

But for those who work in Parliament House, the eased restrictions are being reversed next week for the last sitting period of the year.

They have enjoyed a couple of weeks of relative freedom, but that is all coming to an abrupt end on Monday. The newly imposed restrictions will last the whole sitting fortnight.

Staff are being ordered to stay at home unless their work has to be done in the office, MPs will have strict limits on who they can bring with them to Canberra (and even if they can come themselves), retail outlets will be closed, cafes return to take away only, the gym is being shut down, masks must be worn almost everywhere, and all public access is being denied.

And why is all this taking place while the rest of Canberra has opened up? Well, nobody really knows what parliamentarians flying in from around the country might be bringing with them, do they?

Normal? Really?

The past week has seen Pauline Hanson launch her entry into cartoon capers, with two episodes of ‘Please Explain’ that target the major political parties and competitor minor parties by portraying them as little more than children in a sandpit or – more to the point – a classroom. It is a cunning presentation that characterises Scott Morrison as being a class clown and Anthony Albanese as the kid up the front of the class eager to please. Defence minister Peter Dutton gets a cameo as Voldemort from Harry Potter, and Labor’s Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek are portrayed as backstabbing leadership aspirants. The Nationals’ George Christensen is depicted finger painting a ‘How to Vote’ card. Hanson is the only one of the cohort featured who is characterised as being normal. Why is that not a surprise?

Racist acronym changed in American accounting watchdog – after four decades

An American government accounting rule-maker has rebranded the ‘comprehensive annual financial report’ to the ‘annual comprehensive financial report’ following concerns expressed by community groups that the acronym of the former sounds like a term that is highly offensive to members of the black South African and Muslim communities. 

The Government Accounting Standards Board issues accounting pronouncements for the public sector in the US, and it was approached late last year by stakeholders who alerted it to the fact that the acronym CAFR, which has been in use since 1979, should be changed.

“In late 2020, stakeholders presented the Board with concerns regarding an acronym used in the GASB’s standards. The stakeholders stated that the acronym for the comprehensive annual financial report, as it generally is pronounced, sounds like a profoundly offensive term directed at Black South Africans. They requested that the Board address the issue,” the GASB noted in its revised pronouncement.

“During its investigation of the issue for the purpose of deciding how to respond, the Board became aware that the pronunciation of the acronym also sounds like a word that is highly offensive to Muslims.”

The standard-setter applied itself to the task of trying to change the terms, looking at alternatives that meant the same as comprehensive but ultimately decided on shuffling ‘annual’ and ‘comprehensive’ around so that it resulted in ACFR. 

There are nine pages of consequential amendments to government accounting standards in the new pronouncements. This does not take into account the accounting firms, government bodies, academic institutions, and other entities that will need to change all of their accounting guidance following this amendment.

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