Marriage equality CEO’s will not be silenced, quite rightly:
“It has utterly nothing to do with political correctness,” Australian Super chair Heather Ridout told AFR Weekend.
“It is too much about politics and not about the actual principle here. What we need is a debate about the substance of the issue, not a debate about whether people are being politically correct.
Tim Reed, the chief executive of accounting software firm MYOB, said gay law reform was an important workplace issue and crucial to Australia’s competitiveness, which meant business did have a role to play in the debate.
Another high-profile chief executive, who did not want to be named, said he knew there would be some political backlash before signing up to the campaign but was surprised at the reaction.
“Canberra is totally out of touch. John Howard would argue that corporates should not wade into this but I think we are way past this. As a large employer I don’t think we can afford to stay silent on this issue,” he said.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it was unfair to call on big business, which supported the government’s tax reforms, to take a broader leadership role but then criticise it for speaking on non-economic issues.
But Minister for The Closet, Peter Dutton will not be cowed either:
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will launch a fresh attack against chief executives who urged Malcolm Turnbull to put the legalisation of same-sex marriage to a parliamentary vote.
In a speech to a Liberal National Party state council meeting in Cairns today, Mr Dutton will single out Qantas boss Alan Joyce for joining more than 30 high-profile executives in penning a letter to Mr Turnbull.
“Tens of thousands of customers and staff who fly with a company like Qantas, for example, would have strong views about an issue like gay marriage. Both for and against,” Mr Dutton will say.
“This is what makes the decision of a CEO or a board to spend shareholders’ money — not in pursuit of a greater return on capital or a better service for customers — but on a personal agenda, particularly galling.
“And the issue here is not gay marriage, it is activism with other people’s money. And where does it stop?
“Alan Joyce, the individual, is perfectly entitled to campaign for and spend his hard-earned money on any issue he sees fit. But don’t do it in an official capacity and with shareholders’ money.”
Mr Dutton’s speech describes a “modern phenomena” where one side of the argument attempts to “beat people in to submission”.
“The other side of this coin is the reality that some companies are morally coerced into supporting campaigns in fear of being extorted by an online social media push to boycott their product. It is unconscionable.”
How is signing a petition using shareholders money?
“Political correctness” is not a label that can only be applied only to the Left. Political correctness is simply someone aiming to influence the boundaries of acceptable civil society discourse and it applies as much the Right. Cripes, totalitarian regimes of the far Right are the most politically correct of all: criticise the Fuhrer and it’s off to Dachau for you!
For instance, anyone who reads The Australian regularly will know that it strictly polices its definition of what those boundaries should be – no pooftas, no renewables, no Labor, private ownership, free speech so long as it promotes the right to bigotry over liberalism etc – and it attacks and bullies anyone or anything lying outside of its definition of what is righteous.
Peter Dutton and his alt-Right mates in the Coalition share this obsessive political correctness in their enforcement of a very narrow set of values that has long passed its use-by date in the community. Thus Dutton’s attempt to shut down the free speech of progressive CEOs, even as he attacks 18c, would be hilarious if weren’t actually happening.
Coalition hypocrisy is the end point of twenty years of inconsistent ideology. Since the rise of John Howard, Coalition liberalism has been increasingly laissez faire economically and increasingly restrictive socially. This suited the values of conservatives of the day but it also made sense as a political winner because the uncertainties generated by economic freedom were shored-up by the reassurance of social continuity.
But beneath that the globlisation of liberalism still changed Australian society. Our kids have grown up with total freedoms and whole generations now have no eye for colour or sexuality. High immigration diversified culture and we recruited all manner of international CEOs too. Equality is no longer a choice, it is embedded as identity. Just as it should be.
At the same time, however, Howard’s ideological blend attracted younger Liberals that were the most obsessive social troglodytes of their own liberalising generations, as well as the most pro-business (as well as anti-market).
So today the Coalition finds itself woefully out of touch on both economic and social challenges. Markets are being destroyed by a business rent-seeking riot that it won’t stop, and social progressiveness is a tide that it stands in front of like King Canute.
Free speech is always bound by what it is socially acceptable. This debate is only about who it is that gets to set those borders.