Australian airline Qantas came under fire recently after it stripped veteran radio broadcaster Alan Jones of his invitation-only Chairman’s Lounge privileges. Jones received an email informing him that his membership had been revoked after an airline review. Jones had been a member of the lounge for 34 years, a period in which he had made controversial statements and caused public backlash. However, after Alan Joyce, Qantas’s CEO intervened, Jones’s privileges were restored, indicating that the radio presenter is still someone whose opinions carry weight. Joyce personally called Jones to apologise for the revocation, said to have been a mistake, and to reassure him that his membership had been reinstated.
The Chairman’s Lounge is renowned for being an invite-only area where only federal MPs, corporate executives, and well-known celebrities are welcome. Although its criteria and membership numbers have never been made public, losing access to this private club is seen as a symbol of dwindling status.
Meanwhile, the Australian federal Budget week delivered a mixed bag of reactions amongst politicians. The opposition party seemed demoralised after the Tuesday night labour party fundraiser, but lifted after Peter Dutton’s speech and a liberal party fundraiser, both held at Canberra’s National Museum. Jackie Kelly, former Liberal MP, once lamented that being a federal politician was “a bugger of life,” but recent disclosures of leisure activities by former foreign minister Marise Payne suggest otherwise. Payne has attended race meetings, concerts, and sporting events as a guest of various organisations and has updated her register of interests accordingly. Lastly, conservative organisation, the Samuel Griffith Society, is holding a symposium in Brisbane, where speakers such as Tony Abbott, Ian Callinan, and Amanda Stoker will discuss their opposition to the proposed first nations Voice to parliament. The symposium will include a dinner at the exclusive Brisbane Club, with a price of $1000 per person.