In a strong endorsement of the Voice to Parliament, the chair of Australia’s largest mining conglomerate, has articulated the firm’s determination to fund it with a $2 million donation, citing “clear business reasons” for its support. During the annual general meeting of BHP held in Adelaide, Ken Mackenzie conveyed to the assembled shareholders that this choice is not a spontaneous act of generosity but a strategic decision broached under the company’s social value framework and Global Indigenous Peoples Strategy.
“BHP has its operations on the native lands of Indigenous people”, he commented, “and these relationships are of profound importance to us.”
Mackenzie enlightened the shareholders that forging partnerships with Indigenous communities is a pivotal step in the initiation of new ventures as well as augmenting the existing endeavors across its cadre of mines spanning the globe. According to Mackenzie, this substantial donation to the Voice is a beacon of the company’s social investment strategy which lays the groundwork for long-term shareholder value.
However, the Voice failed to strike a chord with approximately 60% of the Australian public who voted against the constitutional amendment that sought to instate a permanent Indigenous-led advisory body. This notwithstanding, other corporate giants like Qantas, Canva, and Wesfarmers, have rallied in favor of it.
On the night of the referendum, Nationals Leader David Littleproud openly chastised the country’s corporate sector for meddling with legal affairs. “Corporate Australia and our sporting fraternity cannot dictate the moral compass of this country. They should refrain from imposing their views upon the Australian public who strictly dislike being dictated,” he remarked.
Despite the criticism, BHP, with its sprawling empire of coal, iron, and copper mines scattered across Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, and South Australia, remains undeterred. While addressing the shareholders, Mackenzie reiterated the company’s unwavering policy of advocating for Indigenous recognition and a Voice, a stance that BHP has upheld since 2015 and 2019 respectively.
“This is not a new venture for BHP,” he laid out.
He clarified that the decision to make the generous contribution had been taken by the company management, with the board kept abreast of the plans. Mackenzie conveyed BHP’s respect for the referendum result but firmly iterated that the company’s pledge to its reconciliation action plan, a mutual endeavor with Indigenous Australians, would continue unabated. He assured shareholders that indigenous perspectives and insights would continue to inform company operations.