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Marriage law poll result is a welcome decision


Posted on November 15, 2017

3 min read

Telstra Staff at Midsumma
Taken at the Midsumma Festival where Telstra was a Technology Partner

As many of you know the Australian Government has been conducting a postal ballot on marriage equality and the results of that poll were released today.

They show a majority of Australians are in support of changing the law to legalise same sex marriage.

I am delighted with this outcome and, like many Australians, now look forward to the Parliament acting on the views of a large proportion of the Australian community.

This is a great step forward, a great step forward for a more diverse and inclusive Australia.

It is also a great step forward for Telstra’s LGBTI employees who hopefully will soon have the same opportunity to marry their chosen partner, as others do today.

As an organisation Telstra has publicly supported this change to legalise same sex marriage – as have I on a personal level – and I think it is important to reflect on why we took this position.

What has been obvious throughout this process is that there are many different views on marriage equality amongst our millions of customers, our employees, our shareholders and in the community more broadly.

What has also been obvious is that when corporations step into public debates, particularly where there are passionate and different views, they risk being criticised for trying to use their size and reach to influence the outcome.

For Telstra, our long support for equality and inclusion far outweighed any fear of criticism.

Because with the greatest respect for the diverse views held, we have been keen to reflect what we hold dear and what makes us who we are as an organisation – and that is a passionate, unwavering support for equality, diversity and inclusion.

We want Telstra to be a great place to work, a place to belong, a place where people can bring all of themselves to work and feel valued irrespective of their background, race, religion, age, gender or sexual preference.

Over many years and in many different ways we have worked to build Telstra into a diverse, inclusive organisation – and our public support for marriage equality is a part of that.

I am convinced we are a better organisation for it just as I am convinced Australia more broadly is a better, more inclusive place for supporting marriage equality.

Through this poll the Australian community has spoken. All eyes are now on the Parliament to see how this view will be translated into action.

For Telstra’s part we will continue to work with the Australians for Equality group and support our people – all of our people – through whatever steps come next.

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An easy decision in a difficult debate

Telstra Welcomes ACCC’s announcement to not declare roaming

Regional Network

Posted on October 23, 2017

2 min read

Telstra has welcomed the ACCC’s final decision to not declare mobile roaming.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Penn said it was the best outcome for customers in regional Australia.

“We welcome the final decision as the right decision for the people, businesses and communities of regional Australia,” Mr Penn said.

“Australia has world class telecommunications networks with strong incentives to invest and it was important to ensure that the policy settings continued to promote that investment. It was particularly important for people in regional communities because of their reliance on coverage and future technology innovation.

“Today’s announcement also continues to create a competitive environment to encourage others to invest as well.

“Telstra has always been a strong investor in regional Australia and leader in mobile telecommunications.

“In August this year, we delivered on our promise to expand our 4G coverage to reach 99 percent of the population in 2017. As a result, Telstra now has more than 9,000 mobile sites across the network. This includes 7,300 4G sites, with more than 1,100 of these upgraded to 4GX since the beginning of the year.

“Telstra’s 3G and 4G coverage combined also now reaches 99.4 percent of the population and covers 2.4 million square kilometres of the Australian landmass, including hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of regional and rural Australia not served by any other carrier.

“Today’s decision now paves the way for ongoing investments in coming years. Through our own direct investment, as well as co-investment, we expect to see up to $1 billion flow to small towns and regional centres across the country over the next five years.

“We recognise that there are a number of regulatory and policy recommendations set out in the announcement aimed at addressing concerns raised during the consultation process. We will continue to work with government, industry, the ACCC and regional stakeholders on improving the experience we deliver our customers, “Mr Penn said.

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An easy decision in a difficult debate

Telstra News

Posted on September 15, 2017

4 min read

Opinions about whether to introduce marriage equality in Australia are strong, be they positive, negative or silent – as is your absolute right.

An inevitable side effect is whether companies (and their leaders!) should be part of such debates.

I am very conscious of the fact that when corporations step into public debates, particularly where there are polarised views, they risk being perceived as trying to use their size and reach to influence an outcome.

For us, the criticism runs along the lines of why does a company like Telstra feel it has authority to offer a view on marriage equality?

For us, our obligation overrules the criticism.

As business leaders, we care deeply about the community of which we are a part and the employees we represent.  We respect and protect their right to work in a diverse and inclusive environment and their right to hold equally diverse views on marriage equality.

Many of our 32,000 employees care deeply for marriage equality as it affects them directly, or a family member or friends.  For us it’s about celebrating equality in all of its forms so our people feel safe, are comfortable, can be proud to love and marry their chosen partner.

Supporting differences, and similarities

We need to be part of the communities in which we operate and that idea plays out most acutely in the diversity and strength of our workforce.

Companies that are diverse and inclusive are also the most effective at attracting and retaining the best talent because they are the best places to work.

Over many years Telstra has developed and rolled out many things to build and encourage diversity and inclusion including:

  • Our support for gender equity, including our work to close the gender pay gap and create gender equality in our recruiting procedures;
  • Our support for our employees that, for family and other reasons, need greater flexibility in their work arrangements;
  • Our support for employees who are victims of domestic violence, including the creation of our Family and Domestic Violence Leave Policy that provides employees with up to 10 days paid leave each year;
  • Our support for our LGBT+ employees including the creation of a thriving internal affinity network; and
  • Through our support for marriage equality.

This is not just a single cause for us, but a universal ambition to provide support for the many walks of life who choose to work and do business with us.

With the greatest respect for the diverse views held, to see marriage equality in the context of diversity and inclusion makes for an easy decision in a difficult debate.

We support diversity and inclusion heart and soul at the most senior levels so we support marriage equality.


Clearly there are many different views on marriage equality amongst our millions of customers, our employees, our shareholders and in the community more broadly.

We are not trying to tell people what to think or what to do.  We are respectful of all sides of the debate.

We are keen to reflect what we hold dear, what makes us who we are as an organisation, and that is passionate, unwavering support for equality, diversity and inclusion.

We want Telstra to be a great place to work, a place to belong, where people bring all of themselves to work and feel valued irrespective of their background, race, religion, age, gender or sexual preference.

If there is one thing we have learnt over many years of working to build a more diverse, more inclusive organisation it is that there are no universal or easy answers.

Making those programs work – and they have worked – has required courage, creativity and a determination to challenge traditional approaches. I am convinced we are a better organisation for it just as I am convinced we should support marriage equality.

Telstra Corporation Limited

Authorised by: Andrew Penn

The Commonwealth government has passed laws to promote a respectful public debate on the marriage law survey. These laws apply to any public statement we make as a company about the survey, and require Telstra to authorise and attribute all communication about the survey. These laws apply from now until the publication of the survey results on 15 November 2017.

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Foxtel, FOX SPORTS Australia to combine

Telstra News

Posted on August 21, 2017

3 min read

Telstra and News Corp today announced their intention to combine Foxtel and FOX SPORTS Australia into a new company, one that is well positioned to deliver premium sports as well as homegrown, original and international entertainment in a rapidly evolving and competitive marketplace.

The move to combine the companies will align ownership and management for success at a time when more Australians are consuming premium content across more technologies and platforms than ever before.

Subject to the conclusion of definitive agreements, regulatory review and satisfaction of certain other conditions, the following key changes will be implemented as part of the new arrangement:

– News Corp will have 65 per cent shareholding in the new company and Telstra will have 35 per cent

– News Corp will appoint the Chairman, majority of the new company’s board and senior executives and Telstra will appoint the remaining directors

The new company will be positioned to meet the needs of Australian viewers and create greater choice than ever before by:

– Investing in Australian written, produced and directed programming

– Delivering a wider range of new and innovative products and packages across devices and platforms

– Continuing to invest in premium content and technology to meet growing consumer demand

– Expanding distribution channels for the sale of Foxtel and Fox Sports products, and developing greater operating efficiencies across the combined businesses, including distribution

The proposed arrangements will better position the new company for an initial public offering in the future, with News Corp having a majority stake.

If the transaction between Telstra and News Corp is concluded on the proposed terms, News Corp expects to consolidate the new company into its financial statements.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the transaction would provide the new company with a strong platform to flexibly respond to significant changes in the media, communications and content markets.

“Our strategically significant investment in the new company will be an important part of Telstra’s media strategy,” Mr Penn said.

“Under this arrangement Telstra will continue to support the company with our broadcast reseller arrangements which is a major strategic component for us.

“More people are watching more media on more devices for more hours every day of the week, so the demand for media and for content is only going to grow. With a strong premium content proposition and scale subscriber base, the new company will be well positioned to deliver a compelling customer experience.”

News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said, “The proposed restructuring of Foxtel and Fox SPORTS will unlock value for News Corp shareholders and provide a clearer vision into the depth and strength of our Australian assets. The new structure will simplify management control and ensure that the company is best placed to leverage the skills of its talented Australian employees and programme makers.”

“There is no doubt that the world of content is becoming more complicated and competitive, and it is important that Australia has a strong local platform for its great sports and for homegrown creativity, as well as a showcase for international programmes,” Mr Thomson said.

At this stage certain key commercial terms of the proposed transaction have been agreed on a non-binding basis. Telstra and News Corp have signed a binding process agreement under which they will prepare long form agreements to give legal effect to the commercial principles.

Telstra and News Corp will work to finalise the transaction, including obtaining regulatory approval, to be completed in the first half of 2018.


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NATSIAA: We’re proud to be part of this story

Telstra News

Posted on August 14, 2017

3 min read

This year Telstra marks 26 years of support for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) and it was my honour to be in Darwin when the winners were announced on the weekend.

Telstra’s connection with NATSIAA has grown over the years to the point where they are now a source of enormous organisational pride for us and we feel very connected to a very special story.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, with winners of the 2017 Telstra Art Award, Unrupa Rhonda Dick, Anwar Young and Frank Young.

Stories are what Indigenous art is all about and the NATSIAA – open to both contemporary and traditional works – is a platform where these stories can be told and heard.

The stories told at NATSIAA are of country, ceremony, dreaming and a determination to pass on (often sacred) things seen and remembered. Oftentimes there is also commentary on the ongoing struggle with dispossession, despair and identity and this year’s overall winner was no exception.

Wati Kulunypa Tjukurpa (Many Spears – Young Fella Story) by Anwar Young, Unrupa Thonda Dick and Frank Young combined a large digital print and spears arranged as cell bars to comment on the many young Indigenous men who end up in detention. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful work and also one that I am sure will prompt some serious soul searching in many who see it.

A universal positive

The paradox of the many challenges faced by Indigenous Australians is that it has brought forward so many extraordinary artists.

For indigenous communities, where there are many issues, art is a universal positive and the incredible power of the work comes from the fact that it is one way, one medium, where communities and generations can stay connected to each other.

It provides a sense of purpose, both for those directly involved and for those of us seeking to better understand Indigenous culture and history. It also brings some much needed economic benefit to communities.

Beyond the Awards

Beyond the NATSIAA Telstra’s relationship with indigenous Australians continues to grow and it is our determination to make it stronger.

Just how strong is spelled out in our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which includes programs as diverse installing new mobile base stations and broadband in remote communities to funding research to better understand the nature of cyber bullying in an Aboriginal context; from programs to build digital literacy to promoting Telstra as an employer of choice for Indigenous people.

Our RAP says reconciliation requires more than just words; it says we are accountable, it says we want to achieve something meaningful, it says we are in this heart and soul.

This determination to connect meaningfully also extends to our involvement in the NATSIAA.

Pulse and power

The Telstra NATSIAA now have enormous momentum and global significance. The Awards are part of an extraordinary Indigenous artistic eco-system that stretches right across the land, deep back into the past and energetically toward the future. All of the works displayed carry their own unique pulse and power and contribute to a deeper-thinking Australian society through the fearless sharing of art, and stories.

We are all richer for it, and Telstra is extremely proud to be involved. We are part of this story.

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