Mr Penn said he would not comment on the politics of climate change.
“I’m not going to get into a political conversation around government’s role,” he said.
He instead said individuals and businesses must become more aware of their own carbon footprints.
“Every single one of us actually have a role to play…All businesses today, especially large businesses publish their emissions. How many of us individually know what our carbon footprint is as an individual? It’s capable of being known,” he said.
The social responsibilities of big business was also front of mind in the address, with Mr Penn reflecting that he agreed in principle with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims’ suggestion that there should be a simplified law against unfair conduct.
“I think I agree with Rod’s point about fairness because when you think about it, that is what responsible business is all about,” he said.
The fairness of the telco’s payment arrangements for small business suppliers has been in the spotlight over the fortnight. Telstra recently dumped its controversial supply chain finance arrangement with US company Taulia, which allowed suppliers to be paid in a shorter payment window but for a fee.
Telstra has since also committed to 20 day payment terms for 85 per cent of its supplier base.
Mr Penn said Telstra was now working to stop its supply chain finance arrangements in a way that did not disadvantage suppliers who had been using it.
On the sidelines of the event he said the company would now work with individual suppliers who were using supply chain financing to transition them to a different payment model.
“There’s no doubt that lots of suppliers see it as very valuable… [but] there was a general sentiment that we heard and we took action.”
Emma is the small business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne.