Sky News host Amanda Stoker has slammed corporate Australia for virtue signalling on the Voice to Parliament, singling out mining giant Rio Tinto for particular criticism.
In an interview published on Wednesday, Rio Tinto director and former WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said that most of the organisations he is involved with will take a position on the Voice to “advise their employees, suppliers and stakeholders”.
“I think there will be a surge of support from corporate Australia for the Voice… once the date has been confirmed,” Mr Wyatt said.
But according to Ms Stoker – the former assistant attorney general – this was an example of corporate Australia saying, “do as we say, not as we do”.
“Rio Tinto is a major ASX listed company that has lots to say on diversity and reconciliation action plans and all the rest of the basket of ‘corporate social responsibility’,” Ms Stoker said.
“It’s one of many corporates that love to virtue signal on everything from climate change to gender politics.
“Yet, it hasn’t covered itself in glory in its treatment of indigenous heritage, such as in Juukan Gorge (a sacred Aboriginal site destroyed by Rio Tinto in 2020).
“When will they learn that most Australians can smell this hypocrisy a mile away?”
The former Queensland senator, who is quest hosting Peta Credlin’s 6pm Sky News show, said it may be fair for Mr Wyatt to lament the lack of Indigenous Australians on boards, but this does not mean we need an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
“If anyone would have the ability to help more Indigenous leaders rise through the ranks, one might have thought an organization like Rio might be well placed to mentor and train up meritorious types,” Ms Stoker said.
“But instead of getting its own house in order, it complains about the lack of Indigenous leadership in business as though it was someone else’s job to reach the targets it has set for itself.
“It has its directors publicly pushing for our constitution to be changed to entrench an Indigenous Voice to Parliament rather making a difference using the power that’s already in their hands.”
The host of Sundays with Stoker pointed out there was nothing stopping Rio Tinto – or any other company – from appointing more Indigenous directors.
“If they want more indigenous directors, they could appoint them right now. But they haven’t. Instead, they’ve told you that you need to appoint the equivalent to your democracy,” she said.
The barrister and former assistant attorney general said it was “madness” for corporations like Rio Tinto to be backing the Voice.
“The Voice is a recipe for delay and legal dramas. And make no mistake – the activist class in this country has a playbook that tactically and deliberately deters investment by weaponizing the cost and delay of legal proceedings,” she said.
To support her position, Ms Stoker cited a 2020 story in The Australian that found environmental activists had used “green lawfare” to delay and disrupt projects worth $65 billion.
“The Voice is another weapon in their hands,” she said.
“No matter which sphere of government it touches, you can expect less speed, more bureaucracy and more lawyers.”
Ms Stoker said that backing the Voice despite these flaws revealed corporate Australia’s priorities.
“It’s already too hard to get projects off the ground in Australia. To add another layer (of bureaucracy) is to prioritise virtue signalling over shareholder interests and Australia’s competitiveness as a place to invest,” Ms Stoker said.
“Perversely, that will reduce the mining jobs on which so many Indigenous communities depend.”
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