Telstra, not long after serious network issues which have left a foul taste in the mouth of its customers, has now left a foul taste in the mouths of most of common, decent Australia, by withdrawing its support for the Australian Marriage Equality movement. Why did they do so? Seemingly, because the Catholic Church told Telstra how big it was, and that it would withdraw its custom from Telstra if they continued their support of AME.
Rick Morton reported in the Australian today:
— Rick Morton (@SquigglyRick) April 12, 2016
It seems that Archdiocese of Sydney business manager Michael Digges wrote to a number of corporations, including Telstra, who had featured prominently in an AME advertisement in May last year. Included in the letter was the thinly-veiled threat:
You may be aware that the Catolic archdiocese of Sydney is a significant user of goods and services from many corporations, both local and international. Undoubtedly, many of the Catholic population of Sydney would be your employees, customers, partners and suppliers. It is therefore with grave concern that I write to you about the Marriage Equality for Australians campaign”.
The implication was clear. Continue your support of AME, and we will reconsider our use of your products and services. It seems it was enough, because Telstra has reportedly quietly retreated from their support of the campaign.
It is reported that Telstra has the contracts for Catholic schools across the country and The Australian spoke with one person familiar with the company’s decision to back away from public support who said the telco “did not want to risk its commercial relationship with the church”.
Telstra has been subject to a fair amount of unpleasantry on social media following the revelations, and we would say probably not without fair cause. Telstra has since responded to the criticism with a statement on its Exchange blog, saying:
Telstra has a long tradition of supporting diversity and inclusion.
Our position on the issue has not changed. We place great importance on diversity and standing against all forms of discrimination.
We also recognise this diversity means our employees, customers and shareholders will have a range of personal views on this topic.
What has changed is that the Government has indicated it will call a plebiscite on the issue and, ultimately, Parliament will decide the matter.
Our people and stakeholders can contribute to this process and out of respect, it is important we allow them to voice their own views.
Given this we have no further plans to be active in the debate.
In other words, absolutely nothing. Whereas previously Telstra were fair supporters of the movement, they’re now backing out entirely and saying its up to the government to deal with. While that is, to an extent, true, I would argue that as a large corporate citizen, Telstra probably has a place in the debate, and walking away from it after being threatened by the Catholic Church shows a lack of ticker.
This lead our Jason Murray to speculate that Telstra was trying to walk away from this as quickly and quietly as they could:
Telstra right now pic.twitter.com/jsDucRxUS5
— Jason Murray (@JM77) April 13, 2016
Doesn’t seem like it’s worked.
Regardless of where you stand on this debate, how do you feel about Telstra withdrawing its support based on the actions of the Catholic Church?