Two Christian Ministries have been granted official permission to keep their board members’ names secret on the grounds of “public safety”, after abuse and threats from gay activists forced an IBM executive to sever his links with a Christian education group. The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission agreed to keep the boards of the Lachlan Macquarie Institute and the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) off the public record because publication “could endanger public safety”. The Lachlan Macquarie Institute and the ACL applied to the commission last week after militant gay rights activists targeted marriage equality advocate IBM Australia for employing Mark Allaby, who was on the Institute’s board.
Both organisations removed the details of their boards and staff from their websites last week, as gay activists increased pressure on IBM and started to circulate the names and jobs of the Christian board members. The charities commission took all the details of the two charities off its register, a public record, on receiving the request to keep the names private. After agreeing to the request, the commission put the details of the two Christian charities back on its register with the names of “responsible people” withheld. The commission does not routinely grant requests for privacy of board members but has done so in the past for registered charities such as women’s shelters fearful of violence.
Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie, both the Liberal MPs both criticised the need for the removal of names from the public register because of threats. Mr Hastie, who opposes same-sex marriage, said “freedom of conscience, speech and association are being suppressed and dissent is silenced”. “Australians should be deeply concerned by these developments,” Mr Hastie said. “If this is the pattern now, what will happen if Same Sex Marriage is legislated? “What will happen to individuals, religious institutions, charities and schools who don’t share in the new morality?” Mr Wilson, who campaigns for same-sex marriage and freedom of speech, said: “I utterly condemn the necessity for the need for this action.”
Mr Wilson continued “Freedom means freedom for everyone, including people of faith and also those who have been discriminated by them. This case is another reminder of the need for respectful dialogue. “The ACL has regularly been quick to charge malice against those they disagree with, and unsurprisingly people reciprocate in-kind. Neither are covering themselves in glory. The best way to do so is to engage with mutual respect, which means disagreeing without being disagreeable and people thinking before acting.” Mr Allaby resigned from the Lachlan Macquarie Institute board last week after the public campaign against IBM. Last year, when he was employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, activists pressured him into standing down from the board of the ACL, which opposes same-sex marriage.
Activists had attacked the IT giant for hiring Mr Allaby as a Sydney-based managing partner, claiming his role on the board of the institute, which organises internships for young Christians, is not compatible with IBM’s public support for same-sex marriage. As part of the campaign, led by Michael Barnett, convener of Jewish LGBTI support group Aleph Melbourne, and Rod Swift, a Greens candidate in the 2014 state election, IBM was accused of “hypocrisy” and lists of ACL board members and their jobs were put on Twitter. The charity register was also searched and board members’ names circulated. After ACL took down people’s names from its website “for security reasons”, the organisation was mocked by activists and Mr Barnett, known as mikeybear, was asked if he wanted someone “to fix this one up for you?”
Last week Mr Barnett posted on Twitter: “A bad look that IBM managing partner Mark Allaby sits on the anti-LGBT Lachlan Macquarie Institute board.” He also said: “As an LGBT champion @IBMAustralia, why did you employ a board member of a high-profile anti-LGBT organisation.” Mr Swift called on IBM to ““request this guy to step down” from the institute. A spokesman for the Lachlan Macquarie Institute confirmed Mr Allaby was no longer on the board. IBM has not commented on Mr Allaby’s position. The social media campaign against IBM for hiring Mr Allaby and the charities commission’s actions follow suggestions within the Liberal Party that there will be an attempt to revive a debate on same-sex marriage at an early date.
ACL managing director Lyle Shelton said the application was made to the charities commission to take the names off the public register in the “interests of safety and security”. As well he said, the ACL had a right to appoint board members and “people should be free to support marriage between a man and a woman”. “This has been a case of vicious victimisation and the message is that if you ‘believe’ you will be demonised at work,” Mr Shelton said. “This campaign has attacked the freedom of association. Same-sex marriage activists are intolerant and have co-opted some in the corporate sector to assist them in enforcing this to the point where people fear for their jobs.”
BUSINESS LEADERS TRY TO TURN TURNBULL AGAINST PLEBISCITE ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
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. In a letter 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 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 see how businesses 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, “If businesses 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 opposition to the voices of the Australian people.
CHRISTIAN LEADERS SLAM APPALLING AND UNAUSTRALIAN HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISTS
The nation’s most senior Christian leaders have described as “appalling” and “un-Australian” attacks from homosexual activists that have driven two Christian organisations to request board secrecy. And the Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies has slammed the multinational corporates who surrender to those attacks as “weak-kneed”. The Lachlan Macquarie Institute and the Australian Christian Lobby have been given permission by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to keep their board members’ names private on the grounds of “public safety” after abuse and threats from gay activists. Both organisations applied to the commission after gay rights activists targeted marriage equality advocate IBM Australia for employing Mark Allaby, who was on the institute’s board.
Archbishop Davies said it was an appalling indication of the state of national debate in Australia. “It’s a very sad day in an Australian society which honours free speech and freedom of religion that one can be attacked because one holds to a particular faith,” he said. “If religion is worth its salt, it is other-person centred. “These social media attackers, they are all ‘me’ centred, it’s all about me and protecting my point of view and anyone who disagrees with me has to be vilified or ostracised or marginalised in such a way that the whole society goes against them. “That is an appalling, unAustralian aspect which we need to address and needs to be knocked on the head by government.”
Archbishop Davies went on “Multinational companies need to show a bit of backbone and not be so weak-kneed in standing firm for their values.” He pointed to the dumped Coopers beer advertisement featuring Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson debating marriage equality. “Not that I thought it was a good idea in the first place but nonetheless Coopers just crumpled to the opposition,” he said. “That was very poor, they put their financial situation ahead of their principles.” Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher said it was “deeply concerning that people of faith cannot go on the public record with their deeply held beliefs”. “The Australian culture is that people of all faiths or no faith have the opportunity to contribute to full and open discussion on all issues, without intimidation or bullying,” he said.