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Telstra to take an 'active position' in same-sex marriage campaign: Penn

Telstra will be more active in supporting same-sex marriage despite acknowledging that it could 'inflame a new debate'.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn has "renewed" the telecommunications provider's position on same-sex marriage, saying it supports marriage equality and will take an "active" role in affirming this.

"Telstra supports marriage equality," Penn said on the Telstra Exchange blog on Monday.

"Last week, we advised that out of respect for the individual, our view had been that we would not add further to the debate on marriage equality ahead of a plebiscite or parliamentary debate. It is clear that rather than Telstra stepping back, we should in fact step forward and support our view for marriage equality, and so that is what we will do.

"By renewing our active position, we acknowledge that we are at equal risk of inflaming a new debate, but it is the right thing to do. It also remains very important that we continue to recognise and respect the right of the individual to hold their own view on this issue."

Telstra came under fire last week when reports emerged from The Australian saying it had been forced by the Catholic Church to quieten its marriage equality campaign.

Telstra responded to this by saying it still supported marriage equality, but would take a step back from vocalising this until Parliament had held a plebiscite on the matter.

"Telstra supports marriage equality as part of the great importance we place on diversity and standing against all forms of discrimination," Penn said last week.

"Equally we recognise there are many and varied views and if we are all truly accepting of diversity, there should be room made for all of them.

"While Telstra continues to support Australian Marriage Equality and has not changed that position, we have made a decision not to publicly participate in the debate further.

"This is because the proposed plebiscite process gives everyone an opportunity to contribute and out of respect, it is important we allow them to voice their own views."

Telstra has had a controversial start to the year, after customers were subjected to three outages over a period of six weeks: The first on February 22, which affected prepaid and post-paid mobile services; the second on March 17, which involved an hours-long national mobile data and voice outage; and the latest on March 22, which was a smaller voice outage.

As a result, Telstra has been conducting a network engineering review, with plans to increase capacity of its signalling channels, add extra traffic management protection, improve capacity for its home location register, and heighten its "awareness plan".

According to chief operating officer Kate McKenzie, Telstra has been seeking the advice of internal and external engineering experts during the review, including from Cisco, Ericsson, and Juniper.

In December, Penn was also forced to take to the Telstra blog to reverse the telco's position on global roaming charges after it announced the decision to triple its excess data charges for many tourist destinations just prior to the Christmas holiday period.

"Good leadership means recognising when it is right to change decisions because it is the right thing for our customers," Penn said.

"Price increases are often necessary and I completely understand why the teams that look after our products made the changes they did. But they didn't sit well with me, customers clearly told us the same, so it's my responsibility to act on behalf of our customers."

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