Pure Poison IconAre News Ltd columnists having second thoughts about Alan Joyce? You might think so reading Andrew Bolt and David Penberthy this week.

Yesterday Bolt suddenly started making a big deal about the sexuality of the Qantas CEO in his Herald Sun column, “Joyce doesn’t fit the hiss-boo script“:

This tough, cool union-buster is also gay, sharing his life with a New Zealand man.

What a fine challenge to the notion of gays as effete, flighty and soft – a straitjacketing that limited the media careers of gay friends, keener to talk politics than showbiz.

And, again, what a rejection of the role Labor wrote for Joyce as a Liberal zealot, conspiring with Tony Abbott.

Wait, if someone’s a “tough… union-buster” they can’t be a “Liberal zealot conspiring with Tony Abbott” if they’re gay? Says who? Why? What’s the relevance of this to anything?

Frankly, the only time I – and I suspect I’m not alone in this – care about who Alan Joyce is screwing is when it’s Qantas workers and the airline Australian taxpayers spent almost a century supporting. And then he very much does “fit the hiss-boo script”.

(That said, I’m glad Andrew’s noticed the inaccuracy of the camp gay stereotype – at last. Maybe one day he’ll stop supporting the existing discrimination against gays and lesbians in the Marriage Act.)

It gets weirder.

I’m not sure what to make of this sudden attempt to allocate Joyce to the actual political left:

Joyce would have impressed many with his calm dignity, logic and command of the facts. Bastard bosses should rant, shouldn’t they? They should also not turn out to be life-long Leftists.

As Joyce said last weekend, “I’ve always been a progressive in terms of my politics. I’m very passionate about reconciliation, social awareness … in terms of how I’ve voted, it would have always been on the left of politics.”

Just not on economic matters, which are the ones that really count to corporate Australia, and which are the only reasons anyone is talking about Joyce anyway. Joyce may be a huge supporter of indigenous issues in his personal life, or equality or civil liberties or public dental care or whatever – but the critical aspect of his contribution to the nation has been his determination to cut costs at Qantas by offshoring pilots and engineers, and to crush the Australian unions that want to save Australian jobs by shafting passengers and destroying Qantas’ reputation. And on that issue, by his actions, he’s as far from a “leftist” as you can get.

And actually, if you think about it (hint: don’t do this if you want to comment on Andrew’s comment threads, who do you think you are, you elitist), condemnation by “leftists” of Joyce’s actions actually demonstrates that they’re tackling the issue, not the person behind it – he may well in other areas be a sympathetic character for them, but that doesn’t justify what he’s done, and it doesn’t make him immune from their criticism. So, yes, I suppose I see what Andrew must be trying to say – this is just one further example of the Left being highly principled and refusing to cover for someone who has a terrible, destructive effect on the nation just because he claims to be a gay leftist. It’s his right-wing actions that have caused the damage, and his leftist personal beliefs won’t save him from the appropriate criticism.

Or is Joyce a socialist double-agent? In today’s Punch, David Penberthy – half tongue-in-cheek – suggests that maybe the gay leftist had a cunning plan to make Labor relevant again:

Here’s an elaborate conspiracy theory. In a dark corner of a scungy pub in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville, socialist double agent Alan Joyce is downing schooners of Tooheys New with Transport Minister and Left faction operative Anthony Albanese as they toast their collective success in making Labor relevant again.

The Qantas chief executive may have unwittingly done more than anyone to get the Labor Party off the mat by bringing on a massive, nation-stopping industrial brawl which let the ALP remind the voters exactly what it stood for.

Mwoohahaha. It’s true that industrial relations is about the last ground on which the Coalition wants the national debate to focus – since it is torn between what business (and retired Liberals) want it to do, which is even further screw over working Australians, and the fact that it wants those working Australians to vote for it. And that by trying to crush the Qantas unions so dramatically – and contemptuously of the general public – Joyce has firmly redirected the national debate onto that issue.

So maybe those executives (the ones other than from Virgin) Joyce said were congratulating him on his efforts might want to rethink some of their enthusiasm. I suspect there’ll be more in the conservative media who will be, very soon.

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