By Dorothy Thompson.
The Perth man who smashed a lemon meringue pie in the face of Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in protest against same-sex marriage has been fined $3,600.
Tony Overheu 67, the man who attacked Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce when he went uninvited to a business breakfast at a city hotel in May has pleaded guilty in Perth Magistrates Court on Friday to charges of assault & trespass. He was accused of shoving a pie in Mr. Joyce’s face while he was on stage addressing a crowd of about 500 people. He plead guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday to a charges of assault and trespass.
His lawyer Tom Percy told the court his client “Had borne no grudge against Mr. Joyce”. But he said “Overheu had decided to attack him as a stance against people in high places using their positions to make political statements”.
In an article I wrote for CTL on the 8th of June this year titled. “Why Are Brands Suddenly The Voice of Social Engineering? I reported that a letter, signed by more than 30 CEO’s, representing some of Australia’s largest companies, including Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Holden, Telstra, MYOB, Football Federation Of Australia, and The National Rugby League was recently sent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to legislate for marriage equality.
Mr. Percy said “Overheu had tried writing to newspapers and going on talkback radio but had not gotten much traction, so he made a grave, foolish and significant error of judgement to go to the breakfast. He further told the court “his client had expressed significant remorse and had sent letters of apology to the organisations that were affected by his actions”.
Mr. Percy told the court that, “Overheu had now been banished from his church — a move which he had taken ‘very hard’ — and had been banned for life from flying with Qantas”. He also said “some members of Overheu’s family had “taken it badly” and cut ties with him”.
In addition to the assault and trespass charges, Overheu pleaded guilty to damaging the lapel microphone Mr. Joyce was wearing and admitted giving a false name to police after the incident
The Magistrate Greg Smith described the attack as “appalling” saying “It was designed to humiliate Mr. Joyce in front a large group of people. “It would have caused shock, alarm and embarrassment to Mr. Joyce,” he further added “It was planned in advance simply because Mr. Overheu has different views to those held by Mr. Joyce and many other people as well.”
However, Magistrate Smith accepted Overheu was remorseful and had already paid quite a high price” for a foolish act”.
“You’ve attracted widespread condemnation and public ridicule, and even members of your own family have severed ties with you,” he said.
Mr. Smith granted Overheu a spent conviction, meaning he will not have a criminal record and will not have to disclose the offences to anyone.
In addition to the fine, Overheu was ordered to pay $269 in compensation for the lapel microphone and $188 in costs.
Whilst I do not condone any form of violence, I thought it might be interesting to share with you an email I received just last week:
To the Qantas Board, Open Letter
Dear Board Members,
As a Platinum Frequent Flyer with Qantas and 40 years patronage, I am disappointed with Alan Joyce’s brazen support of SSM (‘Same Sex Marriage); like most frequent flyers, I am not interested in your
CEO’s opinion on any social issues. On a plane I am only interested in safety, service and scheduling.
Qantas have peddled their internal policies with gay dating in their in-flight magazine for some time. This has now blown out to include their campaign with ‘Same Sex Marriage” messages on boarding passes and black open rings for staff.
It is easy to see the temptation to use decades of careful investment in a unique and trusted national icon to campaign for social and political issues but hard to imagine the diligent research and responsible management processes that demonstrate that these actions improve customer franchise and investor returns.
Two obvious issues that come to mind immediately are: does this overt and emphatic support of the SSM platform place Qantas customers at risk of terrorist reprisal, as the only airline in the world with such a position; what does this mean for dissenting staff who for reasons of personal conscience and democratic privilege do not support the SSM platform?
To the extent to which we can find objective measure of the performance of Mr. Joyce and the new culture at Qantas, the data appears worrying. Since his appointment in late 2008 it would appear that: Qantas has slipped from #2 to #9 in the global rankings in the World Airline Awards. (This week I have come off a Qantas flight from the USA, and the plane is best described as old and shabby.) Average EBIT margins have been 1.5%, Air New Zealand for the same period has achieved 5.9% (3.9X) Return on Equity a staggeringly low average of 0.5%, Air New Zealand 10.6% (21.2X) Dividend Payout Ratio 28%, Air New Zealand 100% (3.6X)
Recent improvement in performance has only been achieved as the result of massive asset write-downs, huge redundancies and a very significant favourable shift in fuel prices.
In the circumstances, it is surely incumbent on the Board of Qantas to demonstrate to the public that the decision to place Qantas at the forefront of the SSM movement in this country has been carefully researched and is in the best interests of customers, shareholders and employees; in addition it needs to be clear that the personal crusade of the CEO has not impacted on the extraordinarily poor performance of the national airline during his tenure.
As to the Ban on a 67 year old ‘Pie Man’, this reaction is petulant and hissy, and I expected better from Qantas.
Bans go both ways, I have banned all my staff from travelling with Qantas, as you are no longer providing good service or value for money. But mainly we are offended by your selective presentation of SSM as part of our flying experience, which we consider is both dangerous and unnecessary, instead of focussing on the prime task of making a good airline great.
Dr Stuart Ballantyne,
CEO Sea Transport Corp
Australia, China, Hong Kong, U.S.
Cleary there are more proactive and impactful ways to register disagreement or a complaint than reverting to the old fashioned, ‘Pie In The Face, (PITF)
Let me leave you with this.