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‘Shame on you’: Qantas AGM turns nasty as exec pay voted down

written by Jake Nelson | November 6, 2023

Craig Murray shot this Qantas A330-300, VH-QPI, in Sydney.

Qantas has suffered significant shareholder blowback at its 2023 AGM, with an overwhelming 83 per cent voting against the airline’s executive remuneration plan.

The huge rejection represents a sizable first strike against the board, though Qantas did manage to have its preferred slate of directors elected, including advertising guru Todd Sampson who survived a 34 per cent protest vote.

Addressing the meeting on Friday, chairman Richard Goyder in his opening remarks apologised for a “substantial loss of trust in the national carrier” and acknowledged the “complete reversal of the 90-plus per cent support [for executive remuneration] in recent years”.

“Please know this: we hear the message this strong vote sends, particularly in response to broader
frustration with past events, and it galvanises our efforts to restore your confidence,” he said.

The meeting was often rancorous, with Goyder facing questions from one shareholder, Chris Maxworthy, about the ethics of the board in appealing a decision to the High Court over the sacking of almost 1,700 ground workers during the pandemic, an appeal which the airline lost.


“You might have justified at the time on a commercial basis, and we are paying for your lack of ethics now, or we will be shortly, once negotiations are completed,” Maxworthy said.

Goyder responded that the board would “never ever do anything that we felt was illegal”, and ordered Maxworthy’s microphone turned off when he asked about reports of former CEO Alan Joyce selling Qantas shares before the ACCC said it was taking the airline to court for allegedly selling tickets to cancelled flights. Goyder’s move was met with cries of “shame on you”.

Qantas shares dropped 20 per cent after the ACCC announced its court action, and Goyder acknowledged this but pleaded with shareholders to consider the “global context”, and pointed out an uptick in recent weeks.

“Globally, airlines shares have fallen between 20 and 30 per cent over recent months as oil prices have risen to recent highs,” he said.

“Acknowledging the importance of affordable travel in an environment where fares are already elevated, we made the decision to absorb most of the cost from higher fuel prices in the first half, which is likely to total up to $250 million.

“However, with sustained high fuel prices and a weaker Australian dollar, last month we increased fares by an average of 3.5 per cent to recover some of this higher cost.

“We firmly believe in the fundamentals of this business as we outlined at our investor day in May.”

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Comments (2)

  • This AGM was clearly a vindictive subjective let’s have a go at the board. I think it very clear that the major areas of concern in the past couple of years have been of a procedural nature rather than any deliberate attempt at illegal activities and I don’t think that QF prosecuted is case in the correct manner either. I think it wise that AJ departed when he did and I note from checking a few minutes ago that Alan Joyce Pty. Ltd. appears to have divested of his remaining substantial shareholding in the company. We all must remember that he did a great deal for the QF Group in the past few years; it was only in recent times he allowed a deal of criticism. He certainly went out with a bang!

    • What do you mean “he allowed a deal of criticism”. He allowed nothing. It descended upon him because it was wholly deserved. Actually, he did nothing but ruin the image of Qantas, no more so than in the field of industrial relations. Prior to 2011, Qantas had comparatively good relations with the Labour
      Unions. Joyce then used conventional capitalist bully boy tactics to lock out his own staff and it got worse when he engaged companies of ill repute from overseas to take over the ground handling functions of nearly 2000 longstanding Qantas employees. OK, so he guaranteed exorbitant returns to shareholders, but this was is done by shitting on loyal employees. In the long term his strategy failed and the image of Qantas was sullied as a resulr.

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