Qantas CEO, A Gay Marriage Supporter, Faulted by Aussie Lawmaker

  • A group of business leaders wants same-sex marriage legalized
  • Criticism follows open letter to Prime Minister Turnbull

The head of Qantas Airways Ltd., Australia’s national carrier, was criticized by a federal lawmaker for campaigning in favor of same-sex marriage.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce was among a group of more than 30 business leaders, including the CEOs of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra Corp., who on Thursday petitioned Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to legislate the issue. Writing in their personal capacities, they said marriage equality is good for the country and good for business.

Alan Joyce

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

“If Alan Joyce or any other CEO wants to campaign on this or any other issue in their own time and own their own dime -- good luck to them,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told a gathering of his Liberal Party in a speech broadcast on television on Saturday. “But don’t do it in the official capacity and with shareholders’ money. And certainly don’t use an iconic brand and the might of a multi-billion dollar business on issues best left to the judgment of individuals and decision makers.”

About 65 percent of all Australians are in favor of gay marriage, according to Thursday’s letter.

Turnbull sought to let the electorate decide the issue last year but the prime minster’s efforts were blocked by the opposition Labor Party, which said a public vote would be divisive and lead to persecution of gay people. Labor is in favor of legalization.

Qantas said it will continue to campaign on social issues including gay marriage, indigenous reconciliation and gender diversity.

“We believe these issues are about the fundamental Australian value of fairness and we’re the national carrier,” Sydney-based Qantas said in an emailed statement. “Just as we do on economic matters, we’ll continue to speak up on social issues we think are important.”

Irish-born Joyce, who is credited with turning around Qantas, has campaigned for the issue before and has publicly said he’s gay. Dutton said he knows Joyce personally and doesn’t have anything against him, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

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