High Court says all its judges are members of exclusive Qantas club

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The High Court has revealed that all its judges are members of an exclusive Qantas club, as it prepares to make a landmark ruling on the airline’s contravention of the Fair Work Act when it stood down employees during the pandemic.

Qantas is bracing for Wednesday’s verdict after lodging a last-ditch appeal over its outsourcing of 1700 ground-handling staff in 2020, at the height of the country’s COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

The Qantas Chairman’s Lounge in Brisbane.Credit: Lucas Muro

A spokesman for the High Court confirmed on Tuesday that all its current judges were members of the invite-only Qantas Chairman’s Lounge.

The exclusive club – which hosts the who’s who of CEOs, politicians, A-list celebrities and sporting stars – provides a buffet, a la carte menu and free alcohol to members, who can also order off-menu.

The revelation comes after a furore surrounding Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s son, Nathan, who The Australian Financial Review reported was given access to the Chairman’s Lounge, a move that had been signed off by high-ranking Qantas employees.

The High Court spokesman said it was “disclosed to all parties before the hearing” that its judges had been given entry into the exclusive airline lounge.

He said he was not aware of any move from within the High Court to change the protocol and ask judges to relinquish their memberships.

Qantas lodged the High Court appeal following a 2021 decision in the Federal Court, which found the airline had contravened the Fair Work Act when it stood down employees across 11 airports in November 2020.

The Federal Court upheld this decision in 2022 but did not force Qantas to reinstate affected employees.

In a survey released this week, conducted by Resolve Strategic for this masthead, a clear majority of the public want politicians to turn down free club memberships from Qantas, as a political storm over the company’s perceived influence on government decisions grows.

Seventy per cent of voters think it is unacceptable for political leaders to accept the free membership of elite clubs such as the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge, while only 16 per cent back the widespread practice among all major parties.

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