Agency problems and sports sponsorship

In a previous life I used the work in the area of corporate finance. Great fun. One of the largest problems in that discipline is the so-called agency problem.

In corporate finance, the agency problem usually refers to a conflict of interest between a company’s management and the company’s stockholders. The manager, acting as the agent for the shareholders, or principals, is supposed to make decisions that will maximize shareholder wealth even though it is in the manager’s best interest to maximize his own wealth.

I was thinking about this while reading Joe Hilderbrand this morning on the Folau saga.

Even leaving the moral question aside you have a national football team whose primary sponsor is an out and proud Australian company in the form of Qantas. It’s a bit rich for Folau to effectively say to its CEO: “Hey, you’re going to Hell — but can you please keep giving me money?” Let alone saying it twice.

Indeed, one might easily accuse Folau of gross hypocrisy by happily taking a gay man’s patronage while at the same time condemning all of his kind and then crying poor when the money runs dry.

At first glance that seems to be a reasonable point. It is a bit rude and somewhat hypocritical. But Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is not the patron here. He too is an employee and has the job of maximising the Qantas share price. Now I understand that Qantas needs to advertise and having their logo on the Rugby Australia jumper is a form of advertising and so on.

But that commercial relationship is not patronage. It should not be seen as patronage – the money Qantas gives (or service in lieu of money i.e. zero-price flights etc) to Rugby Australia belongs to the Qantas shareholders.  Now I don’t know if Alan Joyce is a rugby fan or not but I would hope that sponsorship decisions are viewed as being purely commercial relationships.

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75 Responses to Agency problems and sports sponsorship

  1. stackja

    Qantas shareholders can tell Alan Joyce what to do. Rugby supporters can tell RA what to do.
    I believe neither Qantas nor RA can tell a rugby player what to do as a private citizen.

  2. Pyrmonter

    I’m prepared to give Joyce the benefit of the doubt (he’s copped a lot in the course of turning Qantas around, some fair but mostly unfair, and not a small amount of a distinctly unpleasant nature from the TWU’s counterparts to the CFMMEU’s thugs): I suspect he and his colleagues think the views of most Qantas customers – higher income, more educated, often business and professional types – are closer to those exhibited by RA than Folau. That they may align with their own is, I expect, helpful, but not crucial.

    The more general question is, are ‘we’ as customers so concerned about the posturing of the likes of Folau that we’d move airlines?

  3. Publius

    Qantas ‘keeps giving’ money to RA? News to all of us. Here we were thinking it’s a free market transaction between 2 parties with value to swap.
    And Hildebrand is a fool for even thinking that it’s (just an employee) Joyce’s money. On the other hand maybe that’s the problem. Elitists and CEO types like Joyce have started thinking it’s their money…

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    The more general question is, are ‘we’ as customers so concerned about the posturing of the likes of Folau that we’d move airlines?

    I wouldn’t. Either way.

  5. Mother Lode

    As God is my witness, I have tried and tried to like Joe Hilderbrand.

    The two occasions he made me laugh a sense of charity forced me to keep forcing out laughing sounds through a strained frozen smile until the effort long eclipsed the original mirth and the original good will.

    Every other time I find my shoulders just slump and a slight and defeated sigh escapes my lips.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Good point Sinc.

    I’ll add that the agency problem is a worldwide phenomenon at the moment. The political/business class has become so incestuous that voters are turning to populists to get what they want, because the elites refuse to give it to them.

    This issue is a small rivulet of the elitist flood.

    The problem with the agency problem is the elite stratum of society have newly got religion. The green progressive religion. We see it with corporations, Qantas being a classic example, but also the banks, BHP and most if not all of the ASX 50 companies. We see it with politicians, the revolt in Queensland being a result. We see it in Rugby Australia.

    RA is failing to reflect the views of the punters for which they exist. The punters want football. Free of SJWism, free of behavioural awareness officers, clean and fair. But the elites’ new religion requires RA to Believe. It will be interesting how this turns out, as it’s a clash of much more than a football player and the organisation.

  7. It’s a bit rich for Folau to effectively say to its CEO: “Hey, you’re going to Hell — but can you please keep giving me money?”

    This is nonsense reaching.
    Falou didn’t address Joyce directly. He was generalising.
    Why is there an assumption that every Australian MUST know that Joyce is gay, and must recall that during every utterance and tweet?
    Would it not be consistent then, to claim that every RA official, and every Qantas official involved in the RA sponsorship, should have been aware of Falou’s religion and that religions beliefs, and should never have given Falou a contract in the first place?

    If they were aware, and they did offer him a contract, did they then assert that he (Falou) can’t express his religious beliefs, but Joyce can express his sexual orientation?
    Double standards

    Indeed, one might easily accuse Folau of gross hypocrisy by happily taking a gay man’s patronage while at the same time condemning all of his kind and then crying poor when the money runs dry.

    Yea, just like Qantas and Joyce would happily accept Qatar and Saudi Arabia banning Qantas from their ports because the CEO is gay.
    I think it’s obvious who is being hypocritical and thin skinned in this sad saga.

  8. Tim Neilson

    It is a bit rude and somewhat hypocritical.

    What’s really hypocritical is Qantas having as its no 1 business alliance partner an airline owned by people who send gays to jail for up to 10 years, and Qantas’ management then using shareholders’ money as leverage to destroy the livelihood of someone who has not in any way sought to prohibit gays from doing what they like.

  9. “Mother Lode
    #3067507, posted on July 1, 2019 at 12:12 pm
    As God is my witness, I have tried and tried to like Joe Hilderbrand.”

    Very kind…as God is my witness, I have long detested Hilderbrand for being the vacuous, shrill and unfunny
    lightweight he is.

  10. Bar Beach Swimmer

    Bar Beach Swimmer
    #3067004, posted on June 30, 2019 at 6:07 pm
    Iampeter
    #3066920, posted on June 30, 2019 at 4:19 pm
    Organizations are just more than one individual and restrictions on the organization restricts those individuals. So, if organizations are told who they can or can’t fire, their free speech (meaning the free speech of the individuals that make up the organizations) will have been violated. Among numerous other violations.
    No it doesn’t restrict the individual as an individual. It restricts the organisation to operating in respect of the laws that apply. The individuals within those organisations are private citizens when not performing their responsibilities as agents of the organisation, who in their own time away from their employment or responsibilities acting on behalf of the organisation have freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. When, however, they act on behalf of the organisation there is the Principal-Agent Relationship. The Principal-Agent Relationship requires that the agent when operating on behalf of the principal should not have a conflict of interest in carrying out their responsibilities. In the case of a certain airline the agent seems not to be acting in the principal’s interests.

    I posted this on the Some History’s Thoughts on Folau.

  11. Charles

    If you look at it from the perspective of what right does RA and/or Qantas to adopt certain political causes, and make their employees and customers submit to them, then where do we end up?

    RA took on board SSM as an issue, it did this even though a substantial number of their players would not necessarily agree with it. Now that one of their employees has said something that is not completely in line with their political views, so they’ve piled onto him.

    I think the question should be what authority do corporates and sporting codes have to impose their political views on their employees and customers?

  12. thefrollickingmole

    Indeed, one might easily accuse Folau of gross hypocrisy by happily taking a gay man’s patronage while at the same time condemning all of his kind

    This is a gross distortion which keeps being printed.
    Over and over.

    Every time this story is repeated, without the person or organisation choosing to link to the actual post they should be called out for being deceptive.

    Heres the text of the graphic he put up

    WARNING
    Drunks
    Homosexuals
    Adulterers
    Liars
    Fornicators
    Thieves
    Athiests
    Idolators
    HELL AWAITS YOU
    Repent!
    Only Jesus saves

    and here is his holly rolling/ his bit attached to it.

    izzyfolau
    Verified
    Those that are living in Sin will end up in Hell unless you repent. Jesus Christ loves you and is giving you time to turn away from your sin and come to him.
    _______________

    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these , adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Galatians 5:19‭-‬21 KJV

    _______________

    Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    Acts 2:38 KJV

    _______________

    And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
    Acts 17:30 KJV

    The deliberate choice to be outraged!!! by this is extraordinary and infantile.

    RA and the mob should be laughed at for being so stupid, not going to court.

  13. None

    I remember when Hildebrand first came on the scene and Tim Blair was promoting his blog. Like Mother Lode I don’t find him funny and I find his more serious pieces with one or two exceptions shallow and misinformed.

    Same here: Hildebrands entire rambling piece is riddled with errors and misunderstsndings like this. Joyce is an employee. Nothing more.

    As an airline Qantas is overrated and overpriced. The only thing that’s been saving Qantas for some time now are low fuel prices and some misguided customer loyalty which of course is not shared by those younger travellers coming into the market. I love Virgin’s pisstake of the Qantas FF program.

    I used to fly Qantas a lot, almost weekly, for many years, but have now been avoiding it for years. I flew them for the first time in 9 years recently as a guest ( the flight was paid for by a client and I could not change carriers). Business red eye. I laughed myself stupid at their safety video. If you want to complain about not remembering anything after watching the Skoda ad, Qantas’s woke safety video far surpasses it. If they want to treat safety like another opportunity for wankery and money wasting it certainly not going to get my regular custom again.

    Joyce once said that shareholders were very happy with his gayfest at Qantas. But I doubt shareholders are really concerned about getting people from A to B quickly, without major discomfort, and safely. It’s a bit like Telstra shareholders who are happy to take the dividends, but bitch about Telstra and don’t use their services.

  14. 2dogs

    Australia’s worst agency problem is superannuation. A huge number of beneficial shareholders – public superfund investors – have no say in the companies their funds are invested in.

    It’s a real problem because when companies are fined for committing crimes, it’s the superannuants who are hit, despite the fact they had no influence over the committing of the offence.

    This is the “furnished room” problem noted by CL the other day.

    We need to change the way organisations that commit crimes are punished. I’d like to suggest that the victims appoint an adminstrator to take over the organisation for a period of time.

  15. Robbo

    Sinc you seem to have trouble with Israel’s surname. It is not Falou. It is Folau.

  16. Pyrmonter

    @ Frolicking Mole

    As luck would have it, that passage from Galatians was yesterday’s epistle reading in the RCL. In its more modern form (and slightly extended), it is:

    The Works of the Flesh
    16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[e] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    The Fruit of the Spirit
    22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

    The idea that Folau had provoked RA into the actions it has taken (which, given past history, seems a fair interpretation of events) sits awkwardly with the idea that among the sins of the flesh are enmities, strife and dissensions. Mind you, a similar comment could be directed at a few Cats, including those who invoke their ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ etc.

  17. Bar Beach Swimmer

    Indeed, one might easily accuse Folau of gross hypocrisy by happily taking a gay man’s patronage while at the same time condemning all of his kind

    The sponsorship of which RA directly benefits and Issy indirectly benefits is not ‘a gay man’s patronage’. The gay man does not own the organisation that is sponsoring RA and has no right to use the influence, shareholder value, market reach and brand of the business to create a patronage relationship to further his personal interests. Qantas is supposed to be sponsoring RA because it wants to be associated with a successful(?) brand and to use that brand for marketing purposes. As I said above:

    The Principal-Agent Relationship requires that the agent when operating on behalf of the principal should not have a conflict of interest in carrying out their responsibilities. In the case of a certain airline the agent seems not to be acting in the principal’s interests.

  18. Bruce of Newcastle

    I’d like to suggest that the victims appoint an adminstrator to take over the organisation for a period of time.

    RA being administered by Hillsong would cause quite a few interesting head explosions.

  19. None

    Bruce of Newcastle

    #3067510, posted on July 1, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    +100

  20. Karabar

    It is demonstrative of the extent to which people have lost touch with the Bible that they can make an assumptions such as Israel Folau told anyone to “Go to Hell”.
    Neither did St. Paul tell the people of Corinth to “Go to Hell”.
    The message is that certain behaviours do not comply with Christ’s morality.
    It is Good News that if these folks give up their immoral behaviours and repent, they shall be forgiven, and free to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.
    Time and time again we are advised driving and drinking should be separate activities.
    One ought to take that as advice to act responsibly and refrain from poor behaviour.
    Is that advice interpreted as “Go to jail”?

  21. None

    Frankly if Qantas interfered by demanding more strongly suggesting that easy be sacked then they are interfering in a contract to which they are not party and Izzy has a right to complain. I think this is what’s been employed in a couple of newspaper articles this morning after the hapless jelly backed RS chairman said yesterday no sponsor would stand by those statements neither will the government and we know because we have heard from them.
    It’s clear that one needs to question the role of sponsors in this particular stoush. Given how quickly some moved to shit on Maria you can bet that quite a few moved to shit on Israel before that. Those details need to come out.

    I also go back to the question I’ve been asking over the weekend. Who in “the government” contacted the RA or did RA contact them? What was their advice. Given that RA gets taxpayer money and the government has interfered in this in imbroglio, we the taxpayers have a right to know.

  22. None

    Frankly if Qantas interfered by demanding or strongly suggesting that Izzy be sacked then they are interfering in a contract to which they are not party and Izzy has a right to complain. I think this is what’s been implied in a couple of newspaper articles this morning after the hapless jelly backed RS chairman said yesterday no sponsor would stand by those statements neither will the government and we know because we have heard from them.

    It’s clear that one needs to question the role of sponsors in this particular stoush. Given how quickly some moved to shit on Maria you can bet that quite a few moved to shit on Israel before that. Those details need to come out.

    I also go back to the question I’ve been asking over the weekend. Who in “the government” contacted the RA or did RA contact them? What was their advice. Given that RA gets taxpayer money and the government has interfered in this in imbroglio, we the taxpayers have a right to know.

  23. None

    “a gay man’s patronage”
    Yep went back to the Roman empire and The Cult of Antinous yet again. And boy did that end well. Just not for the Romans.

  24. Pyrmonter

    @ None

    The tort of ‘inducing breach’ is complex. It’s a while since I looked closely at it, but Izzy’s breach (something RA insists is the basis for their action, if not necessarily the motivation) wouldn’t be helpful: off the cuff, I think the contract has to be unconditionally enforceable by both parties, so that, for example, force majeure clauses can provide the third party with an excuse.

  25. Lee

    Joe Hildebrand is wrong on so many levels that it is not funny.
    Joyce does not “own” Qantas any more than I do, and he (or any others in the same situation) should have no right to run a company according to his own lifestyle or political views.

    Indeed, one might easily accuse Folau of gross hypocrisy …

    I almost gagged on this, considering the Middle East airlines Qantas and Joyce do business with.

  26. None

    Thanks for that Pyrmonter.

  27. None

    The likes of Joe hildebrand adjust shity and still shity because Israel raised so much money so quickly for his legal fund. I have no problem with that because if people want him to prosecute a case which will clarify some points in law for the benefit of all of us, then I have no problems in all of us carrying the costs and the risks.
    None of these bottom wipe celebrities and two bit journalists ever got off their backside to raise money for sick kids before this ( heck Peter Fitzsimons once charged a children’s charity $8,000 to put in an appearance) and even now they are using Izzy’s name to do so. I know where the hypocrisy lies and it’s not with Israel Folau.

  28. billie

    where does Qantas pay company tax?

    to me that’s a definition of “Australian” company

    they’re not doing the irish sandwich thing are they?

    on that note – a couple of tennis players like to call themselves Australians but live or lived in the Bahamas for tax reasons during their big earning years .. one did come back though for his wife to have a baby here, though. The other I heard was looking to buy an island in the Bahamas in his retirement .. Australians eh?

    power corrupts and anyone is going to use it for their own benefit, good or evil

    wasn’t it a concern during the various LGBTIxx debates, that should the shoe be on the other foot, would they be as vindictive as the ones who allegedly persecuted them?

    seems they certainly are .. who would have thought eh?

  29. notafan

    But that commercial relationship is not patronage. It should not be seen as patronage – the money Qantas gives (or service in lieu of money i.e. zero-price flights etc) to Rugby Australia belongs to the Qantas shareholders. Now I don’t know if Alan Joyce is a rugby fan or not but I would hope that sponsorship decisions are viewed as being purely commercial relationships.

    I tried to make a similar point in an email to ANZ

  30. HP

    Yes, this analogy by Joe falls apart since Folau works for RA, not for Qantas which, in turn, as Sinc points out, is not Joyce personally (though Joyce seems need a reminder of that fact a couple of times a year at least).

    I think there is is also a difference between:
    1. doing business with a company or choosing not to, for whatever reason, in a market with a large number of independent parties on both supply and demand side.
    2. as the single largest customer, attempting to force your supplier to fire one of its best skilled guys, under the threat of taking your business elsewhere. Especially when that supplier is the only employer out there for the guy who is targeted.

    Point 2 is an example of a secondary boycott, plus there are aggravating circumstances making it more effective:

    Since Qantas is the single largest sponsor of RA, their exit would be very disruptive to RA. It may take some time for RA to sign up new companies to recover from that. This relationship is not the same as you wanting your builder to get rid of a tradie who keeps posting on Facebook that you are going to hell. It similar to Metricon as a customer dealing with their builders, as their largest customer telling the builders which tradies they need to fire.

    To attempt to force a company to fire one of their best skilled guys is in my view an indicator of possibly unconscionable market conduct (since the firing of their best skilled man is obviously detrimental to that company, it is being forced to acts against its own interests).

    Since RA’s the only option for Folau as employer if he wants to play in Australia, the secondary boycott is going to have a disproportionately large effect on Folau. It is effectively an Australia-wide ban. So again, different from you wanting your builder to get rid of the tradie who’s posting you will be going to hell on Facebook. He could go work for any other builder. It would be similar to attempting to get that tradie’s license to work in the construction business anywhere in Australia, revoked. It adds weight to the claim this is unconscionable conduct on the part of Qantas.

    Lastly, Folau did not say Joyce was going to hell. Folau was actually trying to prevent that. After his explanation of the post, which is consistent with the Bible, this whole thing should have been over and done with.

  31. None

    The state may have well criminalised homosexual acts, Billie, but I’m not aware of the church ever doing so. Churches do not run criminal courts nor do they impose criminal sanctions such as jail.

    The church instead has always considered homosexual acts as sin, and contrary to the Christian sexual ethic which requires people also honour God with their bodies ( that sort of language is even used a little later in the passage which Israel quoted). Being a Christian is a total commitment old one’s total person: body, mind and soul.

    In the first centuries of Christianity, a lot of Christian preachers and thinkers also focused on denouncing pedastrty – men molesting boys – which was an endemic practice in the upper echelons of Greco Roman Society and, much more radically for that era, they also promoted the same standards for both men and women. So instead of having men f****** their slave girls and the local ho while their wives were cloistered and expected to be chaste, the Christian ethic demanded the same of both men and women. Christianity was known as the religion for women and slaves for a reason. It treated them with equal dignity.

    The Christian church has always welcomed anyone and everyone subject to the same entrance requirements: repent and believe. No sin is too big or too vile for God to forgive. There is no age, gender, or sexuality test. Just: repent and believe. Salvation is a free gift but for it to be a gift you have to take it and that involves repenting and believing. Yes the church has lost its way on many occasions – it does comprise of fallible and fallen people after all – but it’s never pretended otherwise.

    If I step back and look at this kerfuffle in purely religious terms, the reason for the gnashing of teeth by the Gaystapo ( who are often not glbt themselves) is this horrendous idea (in their mind) of repentance. Of turning away from the occurrence in and turning towards god. And all this tells me that perhaps a lot more people believe in god among those that pretend not to.

  32. None

    *Of turning away from their curtent sin and turning towards god.

  33. Roger

    At first glance that seems to be a reasonable point.

    That an employee is bound not to publish anything on a personal social media account that his employer or a sponsor thereof might find objectionable?

    No, that is not reasonable at first glance.

    It’s proposing a new serfdom.

  34. I_am_not_a_robot

    Wearing my bush lawyer’s Akubra there appear to be two relevant clauses in the Australian Rugby Union Code of Conduct By-Laws:
    “(k) not to do anything which is likely to intimidate, offend, insult or humiliate another participant on the ground of the religion, sexual orientation, disability, race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the person;
    (m) not to do anything which adversely affects or reflects on or discredits the game, the ARU, any Member Union or Affiliated Union of the ARU, or any squad, team, competition, tournament, sponsor, official supplier or licensee, including, but not limited to, any illegal act or any act of dishonesty or fraud”.
    Unless the International Rugby Board has disqualified homosexuals from the sport it seems the ARU is within its rights to sack Folau.
    The Freedom of Religion as I understand it is the freedom to practice one’s religion without persecution or discrimination.
    There are many quotes in the Bible that if taken literally are not only offensive, to women for instance, but would be unlawful under 18c.

  35. lotocoti

    Indeed, one might easily accuse Folau of gross hypocrisy…

    I’m having a little difficulty finding any Joe Hildebrand articles about Sonny Bill Williams gaffer taping over bank logos, or Usman Khawaja eschewing alcohol sponsor logos and still taking the money.
    Similarly, tales of RUNZ or CA banishing said players on the off chance the CEOs of BNZ or VB develop hurt feelings.

  36. None

    Albrechtsen today:

    Here is another own goal by Rugby Australia. On Friday, RA chairman Cameron Clyne said it had to sack Israel Folau because sponsors made it clear they would have deserted the sporting body if it did not. The statements reek of the same incompetence that speaks to RA’s handling of this sorry saga.

    As far as legal strategies go, Clyne’s comments appear to have given Folau a new legal avenue. It will be up to Folau’s legal team, led by Stuart Wood QC, to determine whether Clyne has just exposed a new legal claim of inducement to breach a contract by RA’s sponsors. The claim goes like this: if RA breached its contract with Folau by sacking him, then sponsors induced that breach of contract by pressuring RA over the debacle. Inducing a breach of contract is an economic tort at common law.

    And there is more. Sydney barrister Jeff Phillips SC, a senior silk who specialises in employment law, told The Australian yesterday that, having read Clyne’s comments, there is a real possibility of yet another new legal avenue for Folau’s team. In addition to a common law claim of interference with contractual relations, Phillip says there may also be a breach of Australian competition laws.

    “If it be the case that sponsors, or even the government, has placed any pressure on Rugby Australia to terminate his contract, then that raises prospects of interference with contractual relations and aspects of Australian competition and consumer law, in particular section 45D dealing with secondary boycotts,” Phillips said.

    “For example, if party A places pressure on party B to stop party C providing services to party D, that is a secondary boycott. This is not too dissimilar to when renegade trade unions like the CFMEU placed pressure on employers not to engage with contractors who have non-union labour.”

    In this case, party A is potentially Qantas placing pressure on party B, Rugby Australia, to stop party C, Folau, from playing rugby for, say, the Waratahs.

    What was Clyne thinking? Dopey doesn’t begin to describe what he said on Friday after settlement negotiations between RA and Folau broke down. Clyne said a long court battle would be “painful” but that if RA had not acted as it did, which led to the sacking of Folau, then “we’d have no sponsors at all because no sponsor has indicated they would be willing to be associated with social media posts of that sort and that includes government, because we’ve also heard from them”. RA receives funding from federal and state governments.

    Those loose comments from Clyne dump Qantas, RA’s major sponsor, into this legal quagmire. Israel Folau v Rugby Australia may now involve Qantas as a new party, entitling Folau’s team to demand discovery of every piece of correspondence, and details of every discussion, between RA and its sponsors, particularly Qantas, to find evidence of pressure that induced an alleged breach of contract, or a secondary boycott. This could mean Qantas boss Alan Joyce is cross-examined in the witness box by Folau’s crack legal team.

    No doubt, Folau’s lawyers already have their heads in the law books about claims against sponsors. It also might explain why Folau wanted to raise $3 million to fund a legal case that is growing. Just as well then he has already raised more than $2m. The intervention by RA’s chairman, which blew the lid on pressure from sponsors, may make a potential claim against Qantas and other sponsors much more likely.

    The Qantas boss can’t be happy with this potential new legal development. Qantas did what sponsors are entitled to do — their money comes with strings attached. But if there was an inducement to breach a contract, or some kind of secondary boycott, that is a different matter. If sponsors want to call these kinds of shots, they might discover legal consequences to their pressure.

    Maybe the possibility of new legal claims will encourage Qantas to put a different kind of pressure on RA boss Raelene Castle: settle this please so we can draw a line and stop the brand damage to RA and Qantas. Mercifully, it will also stop us hearing about Folau’s social media posts.

    In his Friday interview Clyne said his critics haven’t come up with an alternative to sacking Folau. Here is one: from the start, RA should have made it clear to all sponsors, Qantas included, that they were happy to disagree vehemently with Folau. He is a rugby player, not a spokesman for morality. RA should have told sponsors that sacking Folau would make a martyr out of the man, turning a small sporting skirmish into a legal quagmire and a national flashpoint about everything from corporate virtue signalling and bullying to religious freedom.

    A debacle that grows bigger by the day could have been contained. Folau should have been condemned by the court of public opinion, not sacked. His social media posts would have had a use-by date of a doughnut and RA could get on with rugby. Civil society could have been empowered: instead RA neutered us.

    Cool heads and careful thinking could have saved RA from this self-inflicted brand damage, not to mention money it will now spend on expensive litigation. RA is not flush with funds. Now we know it is also deficient when it comes to strategic thinking too.

    Despite Clyne’s lame attempt to look like the meat in the sandwich, caught between the convictions of Folau and Qantas, RA has proven to be a dunderhead. The possibility of this new legal bonanza for Folau is another example of how RA bosses have stuffed up this saga and caught the attention of the country in the process.

    I say it again: Netball SA’s response was absolutely Pitch Perfect.

  37. Bela Bartok

    Seems Hildebrand has got the wrong end of the stick entirely.
    Folau did not say “You can’t watch Rugby if you’re a poove”. He said “If you don’t repent as a poove you’ll go to Hell.” pretty standard ‘religious expression’. Rugby wasn’t part of . He wasn’t restricting anyone’s capacity to watch the sport, or have a penalty for them if they didn’t agree with him: apart from the “threat” of going to hell which, I’d dare say, NONE of RA believe anyway. So Folau gets the sack for saying something that no-one believes will happen, it just hurts their feelings – If we DID believe in Hell, then that’s mean of Folau to say we’re going there.

    Yet the RA pile-on is from people who’ve said “You cannot express an opinion which we disagree with, otherwise we’ll fire you”.

    Gay Leprechaun says “One day I’ll make it impossible for you to fly unless you support pooves”, and now says “one day I’ll make it impossible for Christians to play rugby”.

    The last two are actual restrictions, actual threats, real threats that affect people’s livelihoods. The Folau threat is implied – if you believe in God, and you’re a poove, you’ll go to hell.
    Either the religious poove gets that already (asleep at the apse if they don’t) or they don’t believe it but muh feelz.

    Hurt feelz is not the same as wilfully destroying a career.

  38. areff

    .…..not to do anything which adversely affects or reflects on or discredits the game, the ARU, any Member Union or Affiliated Union of the ARU, or any squad, team, competition, tournament, sponsor …

    As others have noted, quoting the same Bible by which evidence is sworn and politicians installed hardly “discredits the game”. If does, put the cue in rack and give up. They’ve won.

  39. I_am_not_a_robot

    I posted this comment on the next thread ‘Big Green Plans + Folau & corporate virtue signalling + Faith vs Coal’ and it has vanished into the ether, in fact the entire comment section has disappeared at least on my machine, so as not to waste it here goes:

    “The point is that the Folau case is a nice example of the trend to corporate virtue signalling …”.

    No it isn’t, it is about participants in a sport contractually agreeing not to make public statements blackening the character of other possible participants, guilt by association, lumping them together with drunks, adulterers, liars, thieves etc. and once warned repeating the offending remarks.

  40. Ellie

    Critical Cats should try writing a regular column. It’s ten times harder to maintain quality than it looks.

    That said, the key to Folau is simple: is it now a punishable offence to quote the Bible?

    The hatred of Judeo Christian heritage is the lefts ‘bridge too far’ … or should be if the cowardly PM dared open his mouth.

  41. Some History

    No it isn’t, it is about participants in a sport contractually agreeing not to make public statements blackening the character of other possible participants, guilt by association, lumping them together with drunks, adulterers, liars, thieves etc. and once warned repeating the offending remarks.

    Do you even know what day of the week this is? HINT: It ends in “day”.

  42. Roger

    I note IKEA in Poland has sacked a worker because he posted Bible quotes on social media.

    Welcome to the new serfdom folks!

    Don’t offend your employer if you value your livelihood.

  43. Roger

    Correction: company intranet.

  44. Some History

    Don’t offend your employer if you value your livelihood.

    Don’t offend your employer’s “virtue”-signaling if you value your livelihood.

    IKEA was wanting employees to get with the “gay pride” vibe.

    And in POLAND.

  45. HP

    RA chair: If Israel Folau had remained sponsors and govt support would have gone


    RA’s tone has markedly changed since their public statement on June 6 trying to position RA as the defenders of inclusion. Now they playing a different tune: RA had no choice, because if they hadn’t, they money would have dried up.

    I think what is scaring RA sh-tless at the moment, is the eagerness with which the Folau-side + backers and supporters is willing to take this all the way to the High Court. It’s like they are looking forward to going all the way, like a last stand.

    It is amusing how RA equates itself to “the sport” in their statements, by the way. As if no-one played rugby before RA existed, and if they cease to exist, the sport will disappear.

    How about the more realistic view: if RA manages to bankrupt itself as a direct consequence of firing their best, most popular player, then the sport is better off without their .. “care”.

  46. Roger

    IKEA was wanting employees to get with the “gay pride” vibe.

    And in POLAND.

    Swedes looking for an opportunity to re-educate their moral inferiors.

  47. Roger

    RA had no choice, because if they hadn’t, they money would have dried up.

    Not a position I’d be taking as a legal defence.

    The tax payer subsided silvertails of RA are destined to get their wings clipped courtesy an interloper of Tongan Christian working class origins whose beliefs – once accepted as self-evident on the basis of natural law sand divine law and still held on those bases by millions of Australians – they will not tolerate.

    What is the phrase du jour? Oh yes…suck it up!

  48. EvilElvis

    At first glance that seems to be a reasonable point.

    Only in an academics or journos world.

  49. Crossie

    Charles
    #3067523, posted on July 1, 2019 at 12:30 pm
    If you look at it from the perspective of what right does RA and/or Qantas to adopt certain political causes, and make their employees and customers submit to them, then where do we end up?

    Back in feudal times and we better learn how to tug our forelocks to the new liege lords.

  50. Crossie

    Joe Hildebrand? He used to have better reading skills which have evaporated lately. Seems to have absorbed his new opinions from his Newtown neighbours.

  51. Empire 5:5

    I_am_not_a_robot
    #3067610, posted on July 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm
    Wearing my bush lawyer’s Akubra

    There’s your problem right there. Instead of putting a hat on your head, try engaging the grey matter inside.

  52. Win

    Has this government employee who has said the RA money would stop if Folau remained got a namer and authority.

  53. Bar Beach Swimmer

    Empire 5:5
    #3068103, posted on July 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm
    I_am_not_a_robot
    #3067610, posted on July 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm
    Wearing my bush lawyer’s Akubra

    There’s your problem right there. Instead of putting a hat on your head, try engaging the grey matter inside.

    +1

  54. Terry

    The test is simple.

    Substitute Falau’s Christianity and his statement of belief (made on his private time) for a gay activist attending the Sydney Mardi Gras (on their own time) professing theirs.

    Were Rugby Australia (RA) to sack the gay for expressing their private view, albeit publicly, on the grounds that it might be offensive to some, how quickly would RA be in front of the AHRC?

    Supplementary question: Where is the AHRC in all of this? The boondoggle costs us a fortune yet seems to be only interested in persecuting white males.

    Perhaps if Falau were aboriginal, or gay, or even better, both (in line with traditional customs, of course), we’d see the coterie of the chattering class noisily rally to his defence instead of forming an orderly line to publicly bash him (not a little ironic).

    Gotta love all of this “tolerance” and “diversity”.

  55. mem

    There is a fourth player in this debacle (RA, Falau,Qantas being three) and that is the Rugby public. Yes those people who pay to watch and those people in the television audience both here and overseas that make the game. And as one of those people I am offended and angry that the RA has deprived me of watching one of the best players on the field, not from a breach of playing rules, nor any breach of the laws of the land, but because he expressed religious views on his private account. To us folk who just want to watch the best in Rugby this does not pass the pub test. If Mr Joyce had set out to destroy the game he could not have done a better job. A group of us who regularly met up to watch have all agreed not to watch again and as for Qantas, it can take a dive in its customer numbers because we won’t be the only ones that are so riled that we will vote with our feet.

  56. None

    Best to let RA and Qantas know mem. I’m thinking what would have happened if for example they sacked and banned Eddie Betts for posting traditional aboriginal religious views on his social media which opposed gay marriage. There would be an insurrection here for a start.

  57. None

    All the trans Goth had to do was say outright was we are a rugby association, we welcome all players and fans to rugby. We expect that some players may want to share something of their own lives with their family, friends, fans and the public on their personal social media accounts. We don’t endorse Israel’s post on his social media account and has not breached any rule pertaining to his employment by posting it. We don’t just value inclusivity we also acknowledge diversity including diversity of opinion. We set all that aside to play rugby and enjoy the game. Israel is a valued member of our team and we stand by him and every other rugby player. Something like that. End of.

  58. Des Deskperson

    ‘Supplementary question: Where is the AHRC in all of this? The boondoggle costs us a fortune yet seems to be only interested in persecuting white males.’

    Religious freedom isn’t part of the human rights laws administered by the AHRC, so its powers in that area are rather limited. My understanding is that could accept and investigate a complaint, but all it could do would be to attempt conciliation and, if that failed, to make a recommendation that would have no legal force.

    This process would also, typically, take a long time.

    In terms of outcomes and justice , the courts are an exponentially better forum for Folau.

    BTW, I can’t find any evidence that anyone has asked the AHRC foe its views on the matter. The correct answer would be ‘If we receive a complaint we will investigate it’.

    It is possible to lodge a complaint on behalf of another person, but that person – Folau, for example – would need to provide authorisation to act on their behalf. Folau and his advisers have bigger fish to fry.

  59. Leigh Lowe

    Interesting phrasing from Clyne:-

    “we’d have no sponsors at all because no sponsor has indicated they would be willing to be associated with social media posts of that sort and that includes government, because we’ve also heard from them”

    That double negative leaves open the possibility that some sponsors have said nothing one way or the other.
    Note, that he did not say “all/most of our sponsors have said explicitly they don’t want to be associated …”

  60. Pyrmonter

    @ Mem and None

    Note that that Rugby public is, by tradition, more likely to be privately educated and more likely to be affluent. The views Folau is now expressing may once have been common among such people; but in my experience aren’t now. Some of the strongest support for SSM – which was a proxy for ‘liberal-minded views on queers’ – came from the seats in the North Shore.

  61. None

    Pyrmonter: I have no doubt about that. This pattern has been repeated time and time again through History in that it is usually the elites who are the most depraved.

    I get the sense there’s a bit of a divide among rugby players: one set from the progressive elite schoolies ( the ones wit a tradition of buggery no lesd) ) vs the Pacific islanders who usually come from working class roots. Irrespective of that, sport is about putting those differences aside and meeting as equals in a sporting contest. It is partly why the government funds sport and even fun sport in its foreign aid budget. It’s supposed to unite people.

  62. Elderly White Man From Skipton

    This Qantas angle seems to me to be a dead end. Anyone who has dealings with Qantas would know that the Joyce regime is very, very focused on business criteria. They are usually good to do business with because everyone you deal with knows the criteria and they don’t deviate. I might add that the runs are on the board as far as shareholders are concerned.
    The point to understand about all this is that Qantas has its name on the Wallabies shirts. Qantas is a brand-led company. So when the brand issues arise they get out the artillery. It happens and there is no anxiety in that company when it happens.
    People who think Joyce’s personal interests are big in this are kidding themselves.

  63. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    Great talking points. They’re totally full of shit.

    Joyce acts on personal volition and QANTAS is semi-protected.

  64. HP:

    It is amusing how RA equates itself to “the sport” in their statements, by the way. As if no-one played rugby before RA existed, and if they cease to exist, the sport will disappear.

    Without Rugby, RA is stuffed.
    A group of people came along and saw people enjoying Rugby.
    They inserted themselves into the management of the game.
    They made lots of money and now the game is almost ruined because they over reached themselves and decided they were the game.
    Hubris and arrogance, Goth Girl.

  65. Elderly White Man From Skipton

    Joyce acts on personal volition and QANTAS is semi-protected.

    Frank: you are describing the Qantas of Lennox Hewitt and Geoff Dixon. They get no favours in today’s market.

  66. Marley McScruffin

    Taken to its logical conclusion, if Folau’s views are considered an affront to Joyce personally, therefore Qantas should cancel its commercial agreement with Emirates.

  67. Pyrmonter

    @ None

    Imagining governments fund sport because of its social impact is naive. They fund it so politicians can be seen to play patrons with taxpayers’ money. It’s an unholy reciprocal relationship – the sports have to ‘organise’ to extract sponsorship and government funding; having done so, they hold metaphorical guns to the heads of government, witness the cravenness of the NSW goverment toward both the Racing lobby and the construction of extravagant new stadia. I’d much prefer all these things were put on a competitive, non-government footing, but I can’t see that happening soon.

  68. Bruce

    Thought for the day:

    “Offence is never given, only taken”.

    Discuss.

  69. HP

    Bank robber: “Your honour, I could not have offended the law… Offence is never given, only taken.”

    When one willfully and knowingly, breaks clearly established legal, moral or ethical rules, offence is certain to be taken. In that case it is given, I would say.

    The left also uses offensive behaviour, relying on this very argument to get away with it: as if it is everyone else’s fault for “taking offense”, as opposed to their fault since they dunk Jesus into a vat of urine, for instance.

  70. Muddy

    I_am_not_a_robot
    #3067610, posted on July 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    As discussed in previous threads on this topic, the clauses quoted seem to possess an ambiguity (no exact definitions of many of the terms were included, unless they are contained in an appendix or related document not yet made public) that may be to Falou’s benefit. For example, another clause mentioning the three levels of breach – low, medium, and high – does not appear to define what a breach must consist of to warrant an appellation of ‘high level.’

    Joe Hildebrand? The token male in Ten’s Velvet Vulva Circle?
    Meh. If I want advice on how to live my life, I’ll consult a D-grade failed comedian, thanks.

  71. John A

    Elderly White Man From Skipton #3068653, posted on July 2, 2019, at 6:01 pm

    This Qantas angle seems to me to be a dead end. Anyone who has dealings with Qantas would know that the Joyce regime is very, very focused on business criteria. They are usually good to do business with because everyone you deal with knows the criteria and they don’t deviate. I might add that the runs are on the board as far as shareholders are concerned.
    The point to understand about all this is that Qantas has its name on the Wallabies shirts. Qantas is a brand-led company. So when the brand issues arise they get out the artillery. It happens and there is no anxiety in that company when it happens.
    People who think Joyce’s personal interests are big in this are kidding themselves.

    I have come back to this late due to busy-ness elsewhere.

    But this comment about Alan Joyce as CEO of Qantas seems to ignore the evidence of his and the company’s past behaviour whereby they have been
    a) visibly and vocally supporting the push for SS”M” and the changes to the Marriage Act
    b) visibly and vocally having Qantas staff, on pain of dismissal, support the “diversity” mantra ie. engage in social / political commentary on the job (irrelevant to the accretion of shareholder value, and the very opposite of the RA response to Izzy’s alleged breaches.)
    c) promoting political activism among businesses in one direction only: “progressive” causes and in particular the LGBT set of views (again irrelevant to the accretion of shareholder value for those other companies)

    How many more “runs” might have been on the board if the costs associated with the SS”M”, “diversity” and other political stuff had not been incurred?

    The point at issue in the Israel Folau case is that the Qantas brand was NOT anywhere near his private account where the comments were made.

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