QANTAS: Prime Minister’s son scores invitation only Chairman’s Lounge membership
Joe Ashton of the Australian Financial Review (AFR) is one of my favourite reads for airline and tourism gossip. His acerbic wit has gotten him into legal trouble, but I delight in his cutting and well-researched remarks, especially concerning Qantas.
Content of this Post:
Background to Qantas and Joe Ashton
He is not a fan of Qantas or Alan Joyce, or Transport Minister Catherine King. His string of articles about these subjects is amusing and worth a read if you have access to the AFR. Beware though, it does have a paywall. He has been critical of the influence of Alan Joyce and Qantas with the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (‘Albo’ in the Australian vernacular). He disdains the undue influence he believes they have on the government’s airline policy. Ashton cites the recent decision to refuse Qatar Airlines access to a requested 28 new weekly flights.
He also lays the blame at the feet of the lobbying efforts of Qantas for Australia not having fast rail services between the eastern seaboard triangle of cities (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne). I’m not sure that’s true, but an efficient and fast rail service would certainly threaten Qantas’ income on one of the world’s busiest routes. But I digress . . .
Qantas Chairman’s Lounge
In a move that reeks of lobbying, or ingratiation, The Prime Minister’s 23-year-old son, Nathan Albanese, has accepted an invitation to the Chairman’s Club. Or, to put it more colourfully, as Ashton, of course, does:
Everyone knows Joyce personally curates the Chairman’s Lounge membership list. Did Qantas offer this extravagant benefit to Albanese or did Albanese request it for his son? When asked this week, neither the airline nor the Prime Minister’s Office would explain. But did any of them really think a university student sweeping into the Chairman’s Lounge like a lord wouldn’t stand out like dog’s balls?’Joe Ashton, Rear Window, Australian Financial Reveiw
Ashton argues that such a benefit should’ve been declared on ‘Albo’s’ statement of registrable interests with the parliament. However, at 23, his son may not technically be the Prime Ministers’ dependent, despite living in the same house.
It can be argued that Ashton’s inference about influence is an overreach. His argument about the tip of an influence iceberg:
‘Remember, it always starts small. It’s the little favours. Please, let the valet take your car. Only the best table in the house. Don’t worry, I know a guy. We’ll make your problem disappear. Before you know it, it’s become normal for your family to be ushered through airports like royalty.
This is what ultimately comes from public officials accepting gifts from Qantas, an industrial-scale, multi-generational influence peddler.’Joe Ashton, Rear Window, Australian Financial Reveiw
… certainly rings true.
Ethics and politics are often uneasy bedfellows. It’s why transparency is a must.