Former PM John Howard thinks the attack on Qantas CEO Alan Joyce with a lemon meringue pie as a protest against same sex marriage was appalling but he is sympathetic to the views of the man responsible.
Tony Overheu, a 67-year-old Perth man, says he hid behind a stage for two hours before strolling up to Mr Joyce and shoving the pie in his face during a speech in front of more than 500 people at a business breakfast hosted by The West Australian newspaper on Tuesday.
He was arrested and charged and says he was protesting against CEOs such as Mr Joyce, who are gay, using their brand to run a campaign to pressure the parliament to drop plans for a plebiscite and introduce gas marriage, which he described as corporate bullying and social engineering.
Mr Howard said while “the person who assaulted him should be dealt with according to the law” he questioned whether corporations had the right to speak on behalf of all employees or shareholders on the issue, a view shared by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
He cited the example of gay activists targeting IBM executive Mark Allaby, who was forced to resign from PwC over the fact that both companies publicly support marriage equality and he is a director of the Australian Christian Lobby, which campaigns against it.
“What is also appalling is the fact that people who have a differen0t view to Alan Joyce are harassed – you have activists ringing hotels saying they are going to be boycotted, staff are abused, vilified because they are accommodating a meeting that is going to have an alternative point of view,” Mr Howard said.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should honour his commitment to hold a plebiscite, said Mr Howard who would vote against legalising same sex marriage and questioned whether Australians would support it.
Mr Howard was part of a discussion involving John Key, who was the New Zealand PM when it legalised same-sex marriage in 2013.