Immigration minister Peter Dutton has hit out at pro-marriage equality companies for shoving their "politically correct views down our throats", and suggested an undue focus on political issues was leading to poor customer service.
In an interview with conservative radio station 2GB on Thursday, Dutton criticised companies that openly support same-sex marriage, saying some should be "publicly shamed" and "people are getting sick of this politically correct nonsense".
His comments came after 20 Australian chief executives from companies including Qantas, Wesfarmers and ANZ reportedly wrote to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull asking him to legislate same-sex marriage.
"If they want to run for politics, well resign from their position, stick their hand up at the next election, but don't jam your politically correct views down our throats," Dutton told 2GB.
Dutton said company executives would be better off contributing to national discussions on business, the economy and tax, and should keep their noses out of social issues.
He singled out Telstra for a spray: "Here's a suggestion for Telstra. Instead of getting caught up spending your investors' money, your shareholders' money, on all these political causes, what about tidying up your own backyard first and providing a proper standard of care to your customers?
"On the social issues, gay marriage or anything else, leave it up to the politicians, the leaders, to talkback hosts such as yourself [Ray Hadley], to normal people that can have those discussions.
"I think frankly this is a debate that is worth having, because the customers are missing out, and the service is inferior. It needs to be addressed."
Campaigner for LGBTI advocacy group Just Equal Ivan Hinton-Teoh said it wasn't appropriate for a government minister to attempt to "shut down views he doesn't agree with".
"All Australians should be free to voice their views and lobby politicians, including those business leaders who support marriage equality," he said.
"Many CEOs recognise the importance of equality for their employees and customers, and have a right to represent that to lawmakers."
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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