Outgoing Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has repeatedly refused to say if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s son was given a Chairman’s Lounge membership.
Members of Parliament, with rare exceptions, are usually given passes to exclusive areas of airports to save them from having to mix with regular travellers in departure lounges.
But Nathan Albanese, the 23-year-old son of Mr Albanese and his ex-wife Carmel Tebbutt, a former NSW Labor deputy premier, was reportedly given special treatment.
This occurred as Qantas, a prominent support of Labor’s Voice to Parliament, lobbied the federal government to stop Qatar Airways from being allowed to bring extra flights into Australia.
Mr Joyce, appearing before a Senate committee in Melbourne on Monday afternoon, repeatedly refused to confirm if he had discussed the issue with Anthony Albanese.
‘Again, I’m not going to comment on Chairman’s club membership, I’ve got privacy issues where we will not comment on who’s in, who’s been offered it, why they’re there,’ he said.
‘I will not be making any comment on that, confirming or denying it.’
Nathan Albanese (centre), the 23-year-old son of Prime Minister Albanese and his ex-wife Carmel Tebbutt, a former NSW deputy premier, was reportedly given special treatment
Mr Joyce also refused to confirm if any family members of any MPs had been given free Chairman’s Lounge membership, under sustained questioning from Greens senator Penny Allman-Payne, the deputy chair of the parliamentary committee.
‘Again, I will not comment on the Chairman’s Lounge, I will not comment on who’s in and who isn’t there,’ he said.
‘There are privacy issues with that.’
Mr Joyce refused to even say how a Chairman’s Lounge membership is granted.
‘I’m not making any reference to who or who is in the lounge or under which criteria that is granted,’ he said.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan interrupted to suggest Mr Joyce could take the questions on notice, calling out the Qantas CEO for using privacy as spin for avoiding scrutiny.
Liberal senator Jane Hume, the chair of the Senate Select Committee on the Cost of Living, suggested senators declare if they had Chairman’s Lounge membership.
‘Perhaps this skirts the edges of that terms of reference however perhaps Mr Joyce you might come back to the committee on notice on the grounds on which … you have refused to answer the questions,’ she said.
Mr Joyce, who was paid $2.272million in 2022, agreed to have written answers provided to the committee.
‘I’m happy to do that, chair,’ he said.
Mr Joyce was also asked whether Qantas actively lobbied the Albanese government to block rival Qatar Airways from getting extra flights to Australia.
‘We do make representations on a lot of these issues,’ he said. ‘That’s the way the system works.’
He also denied ever lobbying the government against high-speed rail.
Outgoing Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has repeatedly refused to say if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ‘s son was given a Chairman’s Lounge membership
Mr Joyce also refused to confirm if any family members of any MPs had been given free Chairman’s Lounge membership, under questioning from Greens senator Penny Allman-Payne (Nathan Albanese is pictured left with his father Anthony Albanese and the PM’s girlfriend Jodie Haydon, right)
Qantas last week announced it had delivered a record $2.5billion profit only a year after suffering a deep loss with Mr Joyce delivering his last financial result before finishing up as chief executive in November.
The full-year underlying profit before tax of $2.465billion marked a major turnaround from a $1.859billion loss for 2021-22 covering a period before Australia reopened its borders to international travellers.
Revenue doubled to $19.8billion in the year to June 30, up from $9.1billion, and surpassing the $17.97billion level of 2018-19, before the pandemic.
Qantas has also been a prominent campaigner for the Yes case with Mr Albanese set to call a referendum in October for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Qantas has also been a prominent campaigner for the Yes case with Mr Albanese set to call a referendum in October for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament