It’s not often that the progressive and conservative side of life could raise voice in unison against an institution, but QANTAS is certainly giving them the opportunity.
After years of big business being the bete noir of the Left for the manner in which it treats its workers; outsourcing, downsizing, sending jobs (and profits) overseas, companies such as QANTAS have been on the back foot in this country.
And so they should. When the bottom line is the financial bottom line no amount of advertising spin about how friendly and kind the company is will cut it.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back for a company like QANTAS is when you get on an overcrowded Friday night flight that has already been delayed, to find no entertainment system, luggage crammed in between your legs, a harried staff, and a plane so old that you wouldn’t be surprised to find Amelia Earhart locked inside one of the biscuit tins also known as a toilet.
How does a big multinational find its way out of that quandary? By searching for – and in the case of QANTAS – finding worthy cause to engender good will with the progressive populace once again.
So the airline’s openly gay CEO, Alan Joyce, made it a quest last year to push the SSM Yes campaign in Australia with an advertising campaign that would have been better spent on just giving us a little more wiggle room on the flight.
But people like Joyce are not in to wiggle room. They are not into allowing other perspectives into the public square. At least not perspectives with which they do no agree.
So Israel Folau’s true, but unfortunate social media response to a question he was asked about homosexual activity brought down the fury of Joyce, and a flurry of consternation among rugby union officials.
As reported across the media, QANTAS is considering pulling sponsorship of the Wallabies on the basis of Folau’s public statements which it labels “homophobia”.
Never mind that Folau is a conservative Christian from a conservative non-Western culture speaking what many of his cultural and Christian ilk might also feel. It’s interesting how little the Left is actually concerned with cultural difference. After years of calling out the colonialism of the Right, it is intent on a cultural colonialism of its own.
When a government worker in my own city queried how the Aboriginal community within the workplace would deal with the push for government agencies to actively promote LGBT policies, given that community’s conservative nature, he was told “Well, they’ll just have to get on board.”
Now leaving aside the manner in which Folau responded to the question (which I think was an unwise comment, and an unhelpful framework for understanding the wider picture of sin), it’s interesting how a the CEO of large business in this country can move and shake the culture so readily.
QANTAS is all too happy to transport wife and/or girlfriend bashing footy stars across the country. QANTAS is all too happy to team up with Emirates airline despite its avowedly sexually conservative slant.
But big business is big enough these days to throw its weight around with workers and worshippers alike and get away with it.
It’s not government that set the agenda in late modern Western economies, it’s big business. And that’s true whether that’s with workers or worshippers. Governments are plain scared of getting big business off side, so it can, with relative impunity shape workers, and rebuke worshippers with impunity.
This puts conservatives and progressives in a bind, because the same big business that giveth on one hand, taketh away on the other. Perhaps they could team up and say “Enough is enough!” Sadly I don’t think that will happen any time soon.
This is more an observation than a critique as such, because there would be appear to be no unwinding of the power of big business to shape our lives, whether the way in which we run them as workers, or the way we wish to express them as worshippers.