Business Leaders Try to Turn Turnbull Against a People's Vote on SSM

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Business-Leaders-Turn-Turnbull-Against-People-Vote.jpgThe cultivation of sensibility on purely personal lines may, in fact, be the very worst training for a world where only the corporate and the cooperative will matter. - John Grierson 

At the prompting of Australian Marriage Equality in an initiative described by one senior executive as a “corporate bully system”, a collection of big business leaders in Australia have publicly declared their opposition to allowing the Australian people to decide the issue of same-sex marriage. Adding their names to a letter to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull prepared by Australian Marriage Equality, the signees sought to pressure him to turn back on his party’s policy to give the Australian people a free vote.

As reported: 

In a letter being prepared to be sent to Mr Turnbull before parliament resumes next week, obtained by The Australian, 20 business leaders from banks, finance compani­es, legal teams, Telstra, Optus, Qantas, Apple, Amex, Holden, accountancy firms and sporting bodies urge him “to legislate for marriage equality so the government can get on with its core economic agenda”. 

Thankfully, the PM is refusing to submit to these demands. What is more, many have spoken out against the business leaders, calling their act a cowardly adherence to political correctness, insinuating that the letter is meant to distract from the real economic issues that the businesses themselves do not want to address. 

A senior executive from one of these companies provided a “behind the scenes” look at how the letter was formulated:

The senior executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the intense preparations for the letter had included a compli­cated “telephone tree” and “buddy system” of chief executives, with specific business leaders being assigne­d colleagues to convince, but said it was possible some chiefs of smaller organisations or suppliers might have felt bullied. ­“Instead of a corporate buddy system, it could look like a corporate bully system when a bigger corporation wanted the CEO of a smaller corporation to sign up, especial­ly if they were a supplier,” the executive said.

Above all, many are calling out these CEOs for sticking their noses into what is not their business.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton yesterday described the letter as “bizarre” and urged chief executives to “stop shoving politically correct nonsense down our throats”.

“The CEOs would be better off out there arguing at the moment for the economy to be run a particular way or for tax to be reformed in this way so that people grow their businesses and grow jobs as opposed to taking on these moral causes,” he said.

Mr Dutton took aim at Telstra, whose chief executive Andrew Penn signed the letter, suggesting the company should focus on improving telephone services. “Instead of getting caught up and spending your investors’ money ... on all these political causes, what about tidying up your own backyard first and providing a proper standard of care and service to your customers?”

Much to Mr Dutton’s point, these businesses are ignoring their customers or rejecting the rights of their workers by taking sides on such a polarising issue. When businesses publically declare themselves supporters of the same-sex marriage lobby, they invariably send a warning to their own employees and customers: they will not tolerate anyone who does not support same-sex marriage. As Glenda Korporaal noted:

While individual business leaders may feel strongly about different social issues, the reality is they represent thousands of shareholders, workers and customers and clients who may have very different views to their own. There are real questions on how far corporate leaders should use their well-paid, high-profile positions to campaign on social issues outside the remit of their daily business.

These days many companies have activities beyond their daily profit making operations — supporting charities and not-for-profit groups in the name of “corporate social responsibility” is widely seen as a good thing. But CEOs taking political stances can put their business interests — and those of shareholders and staff — at risk and can be a distraction from their paid jobs.

While it is disturbing to see these business leaders try to use their wealth to override democracy, it is encouraging to see the government respond strongly to such opinionated virtue signalling.

However, this whole storm should give us pause to examine the tactics used by same-sex marriage activists. In addition to bullying, we saw how businesses like Coopers can be forced into compliance with the same-sex marriage lobby.

Bullying and boycotting are not the answer to settling this heated, contentious issue. The only way to settle it fairly is through a people’s vote – which the same-sex marriage lobby is determined to never allow. As Marriage Alliance’s CEO, Damian Wyld noted, Coopers was just the first public scapegoat in the same-sex marriage lobby’s demand for “corporate compliance”. If businesses like Coopers are bullied into compliance, what hope is there for individual citizens who do not have the same corporate wealth and influence?

The letter submitted by the CEOs to Malcom Turnbull reveals that they are out of touch with their customers and shareholders, and indifferent to the views of their employees, many of whom are afraid to express their views on marriage after the public stance taken by their CEOs.  We know the CEOs of these companies won’t give their employees a voice; that’s why we need a people’s vote. The signatures on this letter do not merely declare their authors supporters of same-sex marriage – they declare the authors staunch enemies to the voices of the Australian people. 

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