Features Australia

Morality managers

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

13 July 2019

9:00 AM

Financially rewarded beyond the wildest dreams of rank-and-file Australians, some of the nation’s managerial elites are labouring under a delusion. This is that their corporate ascension has turned them into moral guardians, eagerly adopting the increasingly bizarre dogmas endorsed by the West’s cultural Marxists.

The latest is that a biological male claiming to be a woman should be allowed to compete in women’s sports, a practice once principally indulged in at Olympic Games by East European communist shysters.

If an executive were to play the moral guardian in his private capacity no one could object. But today’s guardians do not hesitate to commandeer company resources and leverage company market power to impose draconian sanctions not only on employees but also on perfect strangers. They should be reminded that companies are not citizens and cannot vote. They have no souls. The modern business corporation was created as nothing more than a convenient vehicle to conduct business, to spread risk and to limit the liability of investors.

These managerial elites have been judged by their shareholders to have some exceptional ability to manage and to advance the business of corporations established by earlier generations of entrepreneurs. For this they are rewarded with truly extraordinary generosity.They should concentrate on this rather than thinking they have been invested with not only infallible authority to teach on faith and morals but also the tools to enforce.

Under the guise of codes of conduct and the sprouting of vague principles and values, these guardians are, as the Australian’s Adam Creighton recently warned, increasingly restricting the freedoms of speech and religion of both  employees and strangers.

On this, the Israel Folau case is but the tip of a Titanic-sized iceberg. The fundamental point is that in our society, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, man has been endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights and that, moreover, these are unalienable.

Their restriction is not for some clique of extraordinarily wealthy managerial elites who wish to signal and broadcast their personal virtue.

But the answer lies not in that tainted silver bullet, a constitutional guarantee. As explained recently here, the best known such guarantee, the US First Amendment, was introduced as part of a Bill of Rights only because certain former British colonies would not have joined the Union. Based on the English Bill of Rights, it was not enacted with the intention that it become a blank cheque for activist judges. Nor has its existence hindered several administrations from subjecting the US media to draconian controls to a degree unknown in Australia. Thus there would be no advantage in handing a similar blank cheque to our High Court.

Legislation providing for freedom of speech or religion could create similar problems but would certainly not be as dangerous as a constitutional guarantee.

Neither freedom can of course be absolute. As one judge famously said, no one should be able to shout “Fire!” without justification in a crowded theatre. Nor is a call, say, to behead  infidels an acceptable exercise of freedom of religion.

What is needed are specific measures, including the long-overdue repeal of that outrage on freedom, Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Indeed, apart from producing income for law graduates, what good purpose does the RDA serve? It is an egregious example of the unconstitutional increase in federal powers through the manipulated use of UN and other treaties.

The fact is the federal authorities seem unable to deliver with any competence in the principal areas for which we federated—defence, migration and water. Why try to do what the Constitution leaves to the states where competition and comparison encourage better behaviour, as Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen demonstrated about that evil tax on death?

The best way to cure this delusion among the managerial elites would be to sanction their unacceptable behaviour through public exposure during robust cross-examination and the potential for significant financial loss.

Here are four relatively short enactments which could apply to all business corporations, including those running sports. In all cases, proof should be at the lower civil standard, that is on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt. An offender, corporate or individual, would be liable to pay a pecuniary penalty up to the larger of $10 million or 10 per cent of the annual turnover of the corporation (far more than under the Fair Work Act),with a fair proportion of the penalty going to the complainant.

No award for costs would be allowed against a plaintiff who would not have to prove standing to sue.

The first enactment would make it unlawful for a corporation or its executives to restrict or attempt to restrict in any way, directly or indirectly, the freedom of speech or religion of any person not in the employ of the corporation.

The second would make it unlawful to restrict unreasonably in any way, directly or indirectly, the freedom of speech of any employee especially outside of working hours.

The third would make it unlawful to restrict or attempt to restrict unreasonably in any way, directly or indirectly, the freedom of religion of any person in the employ of the corporation during working hours. Restrictions at other times would not be allowed at all. (Obviously religious corporations running schools etc. would be exempt.)

The fourth would declare it beyond the power of a business corporation to engage in debate about constitutional change or in political speech unless, within the preceding two years, this has been authorised by a resolution at a general meeting passed with a majority of 75 per cenr of all shareholders entitled to vote.

These simple changes would swiftly bring the pretender moral guardians down to earth. By getting them out of a role which has nothing to do with management they would have more time to do what they are paid for, improve their businesses.

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