Israel Folau has found a saviour of a different sort in Mark Latham. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Folau was ‘sacked by Qantas’: Latham

News Corp Australia
6th June 2019 12:54 PM

FORMER federal Opposition leader and current NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham has launched a scathing attack on Rugby Australia, its CEO Raelene Castle and Qantas boss Alan Joyce over the sacking of Israel Folau.

Latham declared under NSW parliamentary privilege that "there's no doubt Israel Folau was sacked by Qantas".

That was just part of an astonishing attack in the wake of Folau's termination for multiple social media posts that had a homophobic narrative, among other things, and resulted in what was deemed a breach of his RA contract.

The last of those posts was when Folau warned on Instagram that hell awaited "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters."

At a code of conduct hearing he requested, the Wallabies star subsequently had his employment terminated, sparking debate on whether he could be dismissed for expressing fundamental religious views.

On that very point, Mr Latham took RA and Qantas to task in his trademark fiery fashion.

Mark Latham has gone on the attack over Israel Folau’s sacking.
Mark Latham has gone on the attack over Israel Folau’s sacking.

Quoting Ms Castle, Mr Latham said: "I calculated - at least $10 million of annual sponsorship revenue - was at significantly greater risk as a result of Mr Folau's conduct."

He then accused RA of acting at the behest of Qantas in firing Folau.

"The head of Rugby Australia is putting a commercial value on the religious freedom of Israel Folau," Mr Latham said.

"That just shows the fix was in. Qantas knew Folau was going to get punted.

"Ms Castle was acting as the slave of (Alan) Joyce within her organisation.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has come in for criticism.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has come in for criticism.

"She knew what he wanted without even a direct conversation with him."

Mr Latham said: "Seventy-five years ago today young men from across the free world stormed the beaches of Normandy … to fight for the freedom of all mankind.

"How in 2019 are so many Australians worried about the loss of religious freedom?

"How in 2019 do we look at Israel Folau and wonder how a football player and resident of NSW has lost his job?

"We're fighting dictatorial corporations who purchase … control of sporting codes.

"These big corporate chiefs preach diversity . . but they're trying to impose uniformity."

Mr Latham quoted Ms Castle's written evidence, which said days before Folau's post, that Rugby Australia had commenced new commercial negotiations with Qantas on further sponsorship and that corporate partners had approached her to "express their concerns".

Qantas provided a comment from Mr Joyce on the issue last month when he said: "We don't sponsor something to get involved in controversy. That's not part of the deal. We expect our partners to take the appropriate action. It's their issue, they have to deal with it."

Israel Folau and his brother John at Waratahs training.
Israel Folau and his brother John at Waratahs training.

Meanwhile, Israel Folau's brother John has been granted his release from the NSW Waratahs.

John Folau, who played a handful of games for the Parramatta Eels from 2015-17, has been a fringe player for the Super Rugby franchise

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson confirmed on Thursday the 24-year-old had been granted a release for personal reasons.

"We gave John some time off for leave and he has come back to us recently and asked for a release, which we're happy to grant," Gibson told reporters.

"John has been in a difficult position for the last wee while. He has got really divided loyalties to his family and his brother and then also to the team.

"He wanted to stress how much he enjoyed being with the team and what a difficult decision it was for him."

"We can all understand the loyalty he has to his family and to his brother and totally respect that position," Gibson added.