Well that was quick. Who would have thought attacking Maria Folau for something she hasn’t even said could possibly backfire?
ANZ has retreated from their attack on Maria Folau licking their wounds with their tail between their legs.
The bank whose public image was recently burned by allegations of severe wrongdoing in the Banking Royal Commission has been quick to clarify that of course they weren’t trying to pressure Netball New Zealand by specifically contacting them to criticise her for sharing her husband’s GoFundMe page.
An official statement by the bank on Wednesday stated:
“We value our partnership with Netball NZ and any suggestion we have tried to pressure them is absolutely incorrect”
Of course! They just called up Netball New Zealand (the body of which they are a major sponsor) to voice their displeasure about the failure of Maria to denounce her husband because they just wanted a chat! Multi-billion dollar corporations call up national sporting bodies to chat about social issues all the time! In between robbing pensioners and charging fake fees to the accounts of dead people, Australian banks rarely do anything else!
It’s not much of a surprise as to what has prompted this cowardly backtracking. Every ANZ social media page has been flooded with ANZ customers threatening to close their accounts or transfer their super. Every media page running the story has been inundated with angry commenters outraged at a bank picking on a private citizen. Hannah Tamaki, the leader of the Coalition New Zealand Party was outraged declaring: “How dare anybody judge or demonise Maria for being a wife who stands by her husband… back the heck right off”. David Penberthy Journalist and husband of former ALP federal minister Kate Ellis also weighed in stating the ANZ attacks on Ms Folau were “cruel” and “look like bullying”. Senator Eric Abetz agreed stating that the ANZ’s actions were “about as distasteful an intervention as one could have imagined by a bank whose own record is not that clean”. Even Gillian Triggs the former AHRC head has declared that ANZ was “publicly bullying” Maria.
Even without doing an opinion poll it was clear that attacking Maria Folau for something she hasn’t even said has been disastrous. Attacking a woman for refusing to publicly denounce the man she loves and has been happily married to since 2017 has been a bit of a public relations misstep to say the least.
Multitudes of people who disagree with Israel Folau, who disagree with the way he has expressed himself, who disagree with the way he has chosen to fund his case and even those who just really dislike Christianity itself have still recoiled at the sight of a giant corporation attacking a woman for something she hasn’t even said.
Hopefully the ANZ Public Relations team have a few uncomfortable questions to answer today. Like why did they pick a fight with a private citizen while needlessly alienating a large section of the public and painting a huge target on an institution currently trying furiously to repair its public image?
They’ve almost made Maria Folau into a hero even with people who think her husband is a greedy lunatic. I’m not sure ANZ could have kicked a bigger own goal if they tried. If the people running the organisation are this out of touch I wouldn’t just be cancelling my bank account with ANZ, I’d be selling my shares as well.