PSsst! There’s no aphrodisiac like a public servant

By The Mandarin

March 16, 2022

The Whitlams on stage
Tim Freedman: “I love a public servant. They’re so bored and desolate, they’ll do anything.” (Twitter)

Phallic logo faux pas a red herring for department’s gender equality agenda

Would a logo of any other shape cop as much flack as the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet’s (DPM&C) choice for its Women’s Network?

The purple-coloured ‘W’ in a cursive font, followed by a purple gradient extending the shape of the letter to make a colour block with a rounded edge was compared by some commentators as an inappropriate visual evocation of a phallic object. Yes, purple – just like the eggplant emoji.

‘Degrading’, ‘tone-deaf’,’ludicrous’ and ‘insulting’ were some of the superlatives used to lash out at the logo, which some have described as a bad kind of satire.

Women for Australia founder Jess Lane told SBS News that for DPM&C to produce and approve the design reached an all-time low for gender equality.

“This latest blunder is, unfortunately, completely symptomatic of a government that is not only tone-deaf and indifferent but also outright hostile towards women’s issues in Australia,” SBS reported Lane as saying.

The department has now removed the logo from its website, pending further consultation with staff.

Women's Network logo
Teenage boys working in PM&C? (Twitter)

If you ask The Mandarin, there are bigger problems in the gender equality quandry to shine a light on than an internal logo (one of several department network-affiliated logos) and what of its design components might be interpreted as resembling male genitalia. And the public service is doing some great work to dismantle bias and elevate some of our best and brightest women among its ranks. You can read more about some of that good work here.

The perception of gender equality is important – but the real story is told by public sector culture and data. For the first time this year, the APS recorded gender parity among its SES personnel, with women comprising 50% of senior executive roles. The gender pay gap – while still prevalent in the APS – is significantly less than the national average of 6.6%.

Although we couldn’t give a toss about the potential penises some see in a basic logo, DPM&C issued a statement on Monday saying a 2019 rebranding of its internal networks used existing resources and designs that were consulted on widely before being finalised.

“No external providers were engaged for this work,” the statement read.

“The prime minister and the prime minister’s office were not part of this logo design.”

Imagine if the department had the guts to truly ‘stick it to the man’ and focus its time and efforts on eliminating the gender pay gap rather than fussing over a purple logo. Wouldn’t that change perceptions for the better?

There’s no aphrodisiac like a public servant

That great ’90s Aussie band The Whitlams are currently doing the rounds, appearing in concert in numerous cities across the country after having their shows endlessly postponed due to pandemic lockdowns.

So it was with a sense of joy and frivolity that the band who brought us such classic hits as No Aphrodisiac, Blow up the Pokies, and Love This City took to the stage in Canberra recently.

Frontman and mainstay Tim Freedman was in fine form, telling jokes and stories in between songs. The audience heard a lot of anecdotes about the band’s namesake hero and former PM Gough Whitlam. After all, the band was in the nation’s capital.

In response to an audience member loudly expressing how great it was to see the outfit back in Canberra, Freedman replied: “It’s great to be here. I love Canberra. I love a public servant. They’re so bored and desolate, they’ll do anything.” 

Back in the office, back in isolation

Some in the APS have been reporting that returning to the office for two or three days a week hasn’t been going strictly to plan.

The Mandarin has been told of numerous cases where after only a day or two in the office, internal memos have been issued alerting staff that someone they have been sharing workspace with has tested positive for COVID.

Without anyone being identified, and without the requirement for all APS employees to be vaccinated, such memos have led to all sorts of speculation and anxiety.

“It has stressed me out like you wouldn’t believe,” one public servant said.

“I have been vigilant over the past two years to keep myself and my family protected and we get sent back into the office only to be told someone I’ve been sitting near has COVID. Has no one thought this through properly?”

Another told of how, after just one day back in the office, the whole team was ordered to isolate because one of them had tested positive.

And we even know of an agency’s director who has tested positive – but staff aren’t being told.

Look who’s got a man-crush

French President Emmanuel Macron turned up to the office the other day wearing jeans, a paratrooper hoodie, and a sexy stubble. Commentary on social media was quick to suggest he wanted to look more like his Ukrainian counterpart and wartime hero Volodymyr Zelensky. Now for Justin Trudeau …

Emanuel Macron in jeans and a hoodie
Dress who you want to be.


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