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The Israel Folau saga just grows and grows. Like many of the most defining cases of modern history, what would otherwise have been a storm in a teacup – a Tennessee teacher teaching Darwin in biology, an Alabama secretary refusing to give up a seat on a bus – the Folau case just keeps snowballing, not least due to the dunderheaded bigotry of his opponents.

Rugby Australia could have just said that the social media posts of a private citizen are none of their business, even though their sentiment does not affect their organisation’s policy. Instead, spooked by corporate bullies and social media mobs, they applied the thumbscrews. In the face of spectacular blow-back, RA just keeps digging itself in deeper.

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.

 

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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.

Qantas, in the person of its loud-mouthed chairman, Alan Joyce, have been entirely used to safely lecturing the rest of us from the safety of their corporate pulpit. Shielded by the economic armour of a multi-billion-dollar corporation, Joyce has seen fit to foist his opinions on everything from gay marriage to Australia Day.

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…The Qantas boss can’t be happy with this potential new legal development.

theaustralian

Like all bullies, Joyce is happy to dish out the punishment to anyone who dares disagree with him but is notoriously loath to have to cop a pie in the face in return.

Meanwhile, in the face of relentless demonisation by the offenderati, Folau is showing how it is actually possible to have a civil discourse with people we strongly disagree with.

Folau, who has since used ­social media sparingly, yesterday took to Twitter to defend gay rights activist and actor Magda Szubanski. “I totally agree with @bairdjulia — please stop the anonymous online attacks on @MagdaSzubanski who has entered this debate very respectfully,” he wrote.

“She is entitled to express her views — let’s all have this important discussion with love in our hearts.” Folau referenced journalist Julia Baird, who was calling out the “ugly hate campaign” against Szubanski after she announced a rival GoFundMe page called For Love.

theaustralian


Rugby Australia and Qantas might want to take a leaf out of Izzy’s book.