Carl Katter libels me.
ABC The Drum have issued an apology and correction in response to this segment that they ran on my activism on March 28 2017:
Full episode here.
Official ABC correction:
The Drum: On 28 March 2017, during a panel discussion on same-sex marriage activism questioning the connections between companies supporting same-sex marriage and organizations opposing it, the program included graphics of three ‘tweets’ from Michael Barnett. These questioned the decision by companies and a university, to employ people who hold anti-LGBTI views. The Drum incorrectly drew a connection between the marriage equality debate, and Mr Barnett’s reference to corporate commitments to Pride and Diversity – a national employer support program which campaigns for LGBTI inclusion.
Thank you ABC. Apology accepted.
View a PDF extract of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission register for The Lachlan Macquarie Institute Limited as at March 22 2017.
On Wednesday 22 March 2017 ABC Radio National’s Religion and Ethics Report aired “The culture war of marriage equality in Australia”.
I thought this interview was both intellectually dishonest and biased.
The interview presented only one side of the story around my raising awareness of a perceived conflict with Lachlan Macquarie Institute Board member and former Australian Christian Lobby board member Mark Allaby, and his current employment at IBM Australia.
Andrew West incorrectly framed the conversation in terms of “same-sex marriage” within the opening four seconds of the story and at 7:56 left unchallenged the insinuation by Prof Benson that my activism was a “witch-hunt” targeting Mark Allaby.
In the intellectual void of Prof Benson’s argument, he makes a range of assumptions, factual errors and omissions. First off he claims this is about marriage equality. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Not once have I mentioned or implied the words “marriage equality” in relation to Mark Allaby’s association with IBM. For me, this particular issue is definitely not about marriage equality.
To this day IBM has no on-the-record corporate position on marriage equality, despite their Managing Director Kerry Purcell recently declaring his personal support for it, first reported on March 16, and despite a few media articles circa 2013-15 incorrectly stating so. As of February 20 IBM’s logo was absent from the Australian Marriage Equality list of corporate supporters, yet it appeared subsequently, and surprisingly without fanfare, sometime around the publication of the CEO letter, but before March 21. As yet there has been no public announcement from IBM or AME substantiating its appearance.
As such, it is not possible for Prof Benson or Andrew West to actually know what IBM’s public corporate position on marriage equality is given it has not yet been communicated officially.
Given that Prof Benson has not actually spoken to me, he could not know my motivation for bringing to public attention Mark Allaby’s simultaneous connection with IBM and the Lachlan Macquarie Institute.
If he had asked me, without jumping to conclusion, I would have told him that for me, this is only about holding IBM to account as a founding member of Pride in Diversity. I simply sought to question IBM’s rationale for employing to a senior leadership role a person whose personal stance appears to be in direct conflict with IBM’s stated goals as an employer of choice for LGBTIQ people.
How can IBM, in all sincerity, guarantee their same-sex attracted, gender diverse, and intersex employees an unbiased, safe, discrimination-free and fully participative environment in the workplace under the leadership of someone like Mark Allaby? The Lachlan Macquarie Institute trains future leaders in Christian values that are intolerant of legal equality for LGBTIQ people. The Australian Christian Lobby actively deploys campaigns and lobbies politicians around issues that include degrading the legal rights and equality of LGBTIQ people. Knowing that such a senior employee currently or previously had significant leadership influence with these sorts of organisations would leave any reasonable person hesitant to openly broach such important topics with them, for fear of not being afforded unconditional acceptance, dignity and respect.
Prof Benson gets it wrong in assuming this specific issue for me is about marriage equality. The ACL and those aligned with the organisation are undeniably on the record for targeting every initiative that furthers the removal of discrimination against LGBTIQ people. Examples of relevant ACL campaigns include Safe Schools, same-sex parenting, same-sex adoption, safety for transgender and intersex people, safe-sex awareness, removal of gay-panic laws, religious workplace and faith-based school protections, and equal relationship recognition (including and most notably marriage equality).
Given that I have not mentioned this is about marriage equality, it seems Prof Benson is driving an agenda in making it appear to be about such. What this is actually about for me is the guaranteed dignity, inclusion and respect of LGBTIQ people and our families, wherever in society, and in whatever form it takes.
Prof Benson alleged that the key activist, namely me, was embarking on a witch-hunt against Mark Allaby. It is unclear to me how he came to this understanding given the way events unfolded.
Lyle Shelton excoriated me in the ACL’s widely publicised March 14 blog. The first tweet I sent on this topic was on March 17. If Prof Benson had researched this issue, he would have known that Lyle Shelton and the ACL went after me three days before I was even aware of Mark Allaby’s employment at IBM.
Lyle Shelton’s blog implied Mark Allaby was forced to step down from the board of the Australian Christian Lobby in March 2016 because of me. As there is no public statement from either Mark Allaby or PwC on this matter, the reason for him stepping down is entirely speculative.
Lyle Shelton has a significant negative influence in the public sphere. He is frequently in the mainstream media, with ready access to radio, television, newsprint and online outlets. His decision to name me personally, an individual activist without the level of access to mainstream media he enjoys, demonstrates an apparently disturbing level of bullying and harassment.
If there is a witch-hunt going on, it is one being spearheaded by Lyle Shelton, and not me. I had no intention or motivation to review Mark Allaby’s circumstances until Lyle Shelton chose to bring both Mark Allaby’s and my name into public conversation on March 14.
In fact, it is a testament to my integrity as a human rights campaigner and advocate for equality that I did follow-up with IBM on Mark Allaby’s circumstances. It would be remiss of me to turn my back on any additional perceived conflict. I would hate to be labelled by Lyle Shelton as being inconsistent.
So really, Prof Benson got it all wrong, and disappointingly Andrew West did not offer me a right of reply, or let Prof Benson’s apparent prejudice go unchallenged. In the future this ABC presenter should provide a more balanced perspective when interviewing guests with intolerant ideological perspectives on human rights and equality.
Jim Wallace AM left the Army as a Brigadier in late 2000 after a 32-year career which included command of the SAS Regiment, Special Forces, and the Army’s mechanised Brigade of 3,000 personnel and most of the Army’s fighting vehicles. He is a graduate of Duntroon in Canberra, the British Army Staff College and the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies.
In 1984 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to counter-terrorism. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the Australian Defence Studies Centre and has served on the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the National Consultative Committee for International Security Issues.
David Burr is a lawyer and businessman. Together with his wife May Wan, David has practised law in Melbourne for over 30 years, chiefly in the areas of property and commercial law. He has a strong commitment to social justice and the role of the Church in achieving fundamental human rights for all. David is committed to the work of ACL in upholding biblical values in public policy, and the protection of our Christian heritage.
In addition to legal practice, David has also pursued a number of business activities. These include property investment and development, a manufacturing and distribution business, and mixed agricultural production.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy, Michelle Pearse stepped into the role of WA Director for the Australian Christian Lobby where she quickly earned the respect of the most senior personalities in both the church and government in WA.
With a growing young family, Michelle moved into a more focused role, dealing with the area she greatly contributed to in her role as WA Director, the fight against prostitution and human trafficking. Michelle was the spokesperson for ACL on these matters across the nation.
Michelle and her husband John are both employed at Kingdomcity Perth, a thriving Pentecostal church that is committed to impacting our nation through the love of Christ, socially, economically and politically. Michelle also lectures at Kingdomcity Perth College to give students greater perspective on national issues and encouraging them to be positioned to make a positive impact and create change. Michelle serves on the board of Teen Challenge WA and has a strong desire to see Christian organisations remain Christ-centred in all of its functions.
After a short stint as a political adviser in federal politics, Lyle was appointed in 2007 as Chief of Staff at the Australian Christian Lobby, based in Canberra. He served in this role for six years before being appointed Managing Director in May 2013.
Mr McLellan and his family lived abroad for more than 25 years where he served as the President and CEO of a number of major international corporations. Since returning to Australia, he has been appointed chairman of several public-company boards, principally in the resources area.
With a passion for the poor, Mr McLellan served as a director of Opportunity International Australia for many years, and as chairman of Habitat for Humanity Australia. He has also served as chairman of a number of other Christian NGOs. An accomplished public speaker, Tony has addressed audiences in several countries, and has also appeared frequently on American television as a commentator on family issues.
Mr McLellan served on the ACL Board for 9 years and as Chairman for the final 6 of those years. On the expiry of his term in November 2015, Mr McLellan was appointed to the honourary position of Chairman Emeritus for his exceptional service to ACL.