Qantas flying low

Peter Kurti

09 March 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre

The Spirit of Australia has slumped further at what was once our proud national carrier. No longer content with changing the way we fly, the Flying Kangaroo now wants to change the way we think.

No sooner had Alan Joyce marched with a handful of uniformed pilots and cabin crew up Oxford Street in the Mardi Gras parade, than Qantas marched ahead with its “Spirit of Inclusion” campaign.

Committed to promoting “diversity of thought and experience” — so says the company’s Inclusion Statement — Qantas has decided it’s time to police the language and behaviour of its staff.

“Manterupting” is out, as is the use of “gender-inappropriate” words such as ‘guys’, ‘darling’, or ‘honey’ which, apparently, can make groups of people feel invisible and excluded.

‘Chairman’ is also vetoed for the staff. But for fear of denting the image of the airline’s super-elite travel lounge, it remains the Chairman’s Lounge.  Inclusion seemingly takes second place to exclusivity marketing.

But wait, there’s more: not content with policing the language, Qantas is also patrolling our history, and actively promotes the ideology that Australia was “invaded” and not “settled”.

Alan Joyce has led the field among his corporate peers in promoting the idea that business is no longer about… well, business. For him it is primarily about social engineering.

With its up-market customer base, Qantas is, of course, signalling its virtue about diversity to Australia’s elite. So far, none of this has permeated to Jetstar, its budget, low-end subsidiary.

Change the language, and soon enough, behaviour will also change. Under the guise of diversity, Qantas is effectively promoting division, and sleepwalking into segregation.

Relations between women and men will atrophy; affection and empathy will be withheld; and no gesture or remark will be free from being interpreted as oppressive, demeaning, or hateful.

“Travesty, as a phenomenon of politics and culture, is what happens when exaggeration has no place left to go,” says American essayist Lance Morrow.

With its latest diversity antics, Qantas has burst the bounds of exaggeration and is soaring in the realm of travesty which will lead, soon enough, to a further splintering of our society.

And that’s definitely not ‘The Spirit of Australia’.

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