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Telstra's CEO has been drinking special Kool-Aid in the Qantas Chairman's Lounge

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They won’t admit it, but many corporate leaders secretly dream of having their Gordon Gekko moment. You know what I’m talking about. That timeless scene in Wall Street, where Gekko takes the floor at a meeting of company shareholders and delivers his “Greed is good” speech.

Whatever you might think of greed, the speech is a masterpiece of rhetoric, a near perfect statement of the 1980s capitalistic ethos.

Greed, as Gekko tells us, is not only good and right, it works: “Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Telstra chairman John Mullen.Credit:Eamon Gallagher

Earlier this week, Telstra chairman John Mullen seemed to be channelling his inner Gekko. Speaking at the company’s annual meeting, Mullen warned about a looming drought of CEOs. Media scrutiny, populist criticism and governance challenges are supposedly deterring executives from aspiring to lead listed companies.

According to Mullen, the business community was being unfairly singled out. Citing how “young kids can earn $5 million now by playing Fortnite” and how social media influencers “can earn millions of dollars just by wearing a nice jacket and standing in front of a landmark”, Mullen argued it was wrong to punish executives for being rewarded for doing their jobs in a competitive global market.

Pity our poor corporate chief executives. It’s a rough life in our city corner office suites.

Frankly, you’ve got to be drinking some special Kool-Aid at the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge to be thinking like........

© The Age