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Folau, ball tampering, protection for religious belief

By Graham Young - posted Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Rugby is struggling. There is competition from other sports, and it is really only played in two states. Yet Rugby Australia puts sponsorship dollars ahead of the game, as well as its support base.

To what end? If it disappears the sponsors will move on to another vehicle. And it will disappear if it alienates its base. The game exists for players and supporters, not sponsors.

By putting money before its people it is corrupted.


Qantas has every right to decide who it will and will not sponsor, but what about its social licence to operate, that nebulous concept which says businesses are about more than accounting values, a concept to which Qantas subscribes?

This is a business that wraps itself in the Australian flag, and borrows the Seekers’ lyrics to suggest that “we are Australian”.

Is Qantas promoting Australian values?

How about we try asking the WWII serviceman who will be marching in two weeks’ time on Anzac Day what they thought they were fighting for. Were they fighting for a free country full of free people, or was it so a rich Australian corporate could tell a first generation Australian Rugby Union player what to think?

I think they’ll give Alan Joyce and Qantas the one-fingered salute, just like they did to Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito. We live in a democracy. No one tells us what to think, and we’re allowed to think for ourselves.

Why has Qantas taken this position? It is hard not to think this is a personal crusade by the CEO and has nothing to do with accounting outcomes, or even licence to operate.


This type of corporate corruption never ends well. When a company reaches out beyond its boundaries to try and crush a single dissident on a matter in which it has negligible commercial interest, imagine what is happening within the company.

We’re in the middle of a banking royal commission because bank executives have turned themselves into corporate princes. It’s not unique to commercial corporations. The Child Abuse Royal Commission revealed that it happens when clerical princes have too much power.

And the antidote to that is to encourage a culture of inclusiveness which includes the dissident as a vital part of the whole.

We need to encourage the Izzy Folaus who stand up for what they believe. They are what makes a team a real team. Shame on Rugby Australia for not understanding this and not standing up to Qantas.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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