A large majority of Australians say they are in favor of their country’s leading corporate executives publicly expressing their views on social and political issues, according to a survey conducted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (Ceda).
Ceda surveyed 3,000 Australians and 59 bosses and found that 78 percent of respondents support business leaders joining the public discourse regarding issues that face the country.
There is, however, a caveat: 52 percent of those surveyed say they think that business people who do speak out about such issues are motivated by selfishness and a desire to advance their own interests. In other words, most Australians support the right of business leaders to put in their two cents (or two trillion cents), but do not expect that to come with any sincerity attached.
At any rate, Ceda extrapolates from these numbers that ordinary Australians do not have an adversarial stance toward Big Business.
“Despite all this talk about declining trust in business and business being on the nose, people understand the importance of big business,” said Ceda chief executive Melinda Cilento, according to the Guardian. She added:
“It’s a healthy majority around the country [that support business leaders addressing political issues]—this isn’t just a healthy majority in the inner-city CBD. There’s a really small proportion of people in that camp that says business should only really comply with the law. When it comes to these issues about social and environmental performance there was support for that.”
But it seems like a bit of a stretch to assert that, because most Australians support business leaders issuing public statements about issues, most Australians have faith in corporations. After all, corporate executives have every right to express their political opinions, just like everyone else. Does support for that right really equate to trusting said executives or, in Cilento’s words, “understanding the importance of big business”?
It seems to me that the survey simply suggests that a majority of Australians support free speech. Even for the wealthy elite.