Qantas boss Alan Joyce: pie attack will make me fight even harder for same-sex marriage

Getting a pie in the face will only encourage Qantas head Alan Joyce to fight harder for same-sex marriage, he has said.

Joyce, who is openly gay, was speaking on stage at a business event in Perth, Western Australia, when a protester walked up behind him and thrust a lemon meringue pie in his face.

The 50-year-old chief executive, who has been a vocal activist supporter in the ongoing campaign to get same-sex marriage legalised in the country, understandably exclaimed: “F***ing heck.”

Qantas boss Alan Joyce: pie attack will make me fight even harder for same-sex marriage

He quickly composed himself, telling attendees at the Leadership Matters conference: “I don’t know what that was about.

“Excuse me, I might take a break for a second, guys, and clean up, but I’ll be back.”

The Irish-born Australian returned to a standing ovation, and today pledged not only to continue to speak up in support of equal marriage, but to speak louder and more often on the issue.

“I have every intention to continue to be vocal on those social and community issues,” he said in an interview this morning.

“Certainly, what happened yesterday has reinvigorated me.

“In actual fact, it’s really, really encouraged me to be out there and continue to be out there and express my views even more strongly than I have done in the past.”

Joyce was also attacked earlier this year, by the country’s anti-gay marriage immigration minister Peter Dutton, who said the chief executive should “stick to their knitting”.

But as far as Joyce was concerned, “it is part of my role, it is part of every corporate leader’s role to have a view on social and community issues.

“There is a moral case for doing that.

“Qantas has always spoken up on gender issues, on LGBTI issues, on indigenous issues, and we’ll continue to do so, and no attempt to at bullying us into suppressing our voice will work.”

Joyce added that his intention was “to send a message that this type of behaviour isn’t acceptable,” revealing that he has “every intention of pressing charges.”

Yesterday, the Australian government once again allocated money – in this case $170 million – towards holding a nationwide plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

A clear majority of MPs and Senators are also in favour of same-sex marriage, with the balance shifting decisively in last year’s federal election.

Despite this, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly blocked a parliamentary vote on the issue, and has instead focused on attempting to conduct a costly, non-binding public vote.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce: pie attack will make me fight even harder for same-sex marriage

Like many supporters of equal marriage, Joyce came down firmly in opposition to the newly proposed plebiscite.

“It’s very clear in my mind that a plebiscite is a bad idea,” he said, warning that a public vote could poison the national discourse.

“It’s very clear to me that a plebiscite would bring out the worst type of behaviours and bring out the type of situation we saw yesterday, where people’s views aren’t respected, where people’s views aren’t listened to.”

He concluded by saying: “I think this should be the job of Parliament … Parliament should get on and do it.”

Tony Overheu, the man who threw the pie, has been charged by police.

He told 7 News in Australia that he attacked the Qantas chief executive because “Joyce has been very much leading the issue” on marriage equality.

Watch the full video of the pie attack below: