Telstra chairman John Mullen has defended a 34 per cent increase to CEO Andrew Penn’s pay today at the telco’s Annual General Meeting.
While defending the $5 million pay packet isn’t entirely surprising, what stood out was Mullen’s justification of the figure by comparing it to kids who earn money playing Fortnite.
There was a question as to whether shareholders would approve of Telstra’s remuneration report, which included an increase to Penn’s salary.
In 2018 only 38 per cent of shareholders voted in favour of the report and large executive bonuses. A second strike could have resulted in a possible board spill.
However, as the Guardian states, this year the vote passed with a massive 97.4 per cent in favour of the report.
Mullen criticised those who took aim at executives receiving large bonuses, comparing them to sport stars, influencers… and professional Fortnite players.
“I struggle that the business community is singled out,” Mullen said. “Young kids can earn $5 million dollars now by playing Fortnite. And even influencers – you can earn millions of dollars just by wearing a nice jacket and standing in front of a landmark.
“And yet when a business executive devotes a huge portion of their life … when they get to the top of their profession, it is somehow morally wrong that they get rewarded for it in an international global market.”
While Mullen is correct that professional gamers can earn millions of dollars in their field, this is a baffling comparison.
These kids aren’t charging the general public for necessary infrastructure, nor are they responsible for the financial well being of thousands of employees.
You also won’t find them lecturing shareholders as to why executives deserve millions in the same meeting where they complain about the NBN being fiscally unsustainable.
And most importantly of all, they didn’t cut the jobs of 8,000 people to get there.