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Pressure mounting for Qantas chair to resign

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Pressure mounting for Qantas chair to resign
As Australia’s national carrier Qantas continues to weather its reputational and legal storm, there have been more calls for chair of the Qantas board, Richard Goyder, to step down.

After Qantas had its industrial appeal dismissed in the High Court earlier this month, the Transport Workers Union called for the entire board to resign. Now other groups have begun to specifically target Goyder to step aside.

This week, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) wrote to new Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson highlighting its position on the chairman.

“The morale of Qantas pilots has never been lower. We have totally lost confidence in Goyder and his board,” said AIPA president, Captain Tony Lucas.

“Qantas desperately needs a culture reset but how can this happen with Richard Goyder as chairman?

“Despite overseeing the destruction of the Qantas brand, Goyder last week accepted a near $100,000 pay rise – taking his pay to $750,000 – while staff are expected to accept a two-year wage freeze. This is a galling and tone-deaf decision.

“Qantas is more than just an airline – it is a symbol of national pride and trust.

“For our great national carrier to flourish, it needs leadership from a Board that understands the value of its employees, respects its customers and can win back the trust of the nation.”

Lucas said Goyder had overseen one of the “most damaging periods” in the history of the airline.

On the side of shareholders, the Australian Shareholders Association, which represents non-professional individual or “retail” shareholders also called for Goyder to go this week.

The association’s chief executive Rachel Waterhouse appeared on ABC program The Business yesterday.

“What I’ve been hearing from retail shareholders [is] that change is required and that Richard Goyder should step down.

“That dialogue has been changing over the last few weeks as more issues comes to light but it’s clear there is a leadership change required.”

She also said the rest of the board had some contemplation to do.

“It’s also important to recognise that Richard Goyder is just one of the board members and he is the first among equals as far as being the chair so it’s time for the whole board to reflect on their role over this period of time and the oversight of the former CEO and the management team.”

However Waterhouse stopped short of suggesting the whole board should be scraped.

She was hopeful for new CEO Vanessa Hudson, but said her viability in the role could change.

“It could become untenable depending on what information comes out, particularly around the ACCC allegations that are going through the [federal] court and what she may have known at that point in time.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was also brought into the Qantas fray yesterday, with a journalist asking him at a doorstop interview in Adelaide whether Goyder should resign.

While the prime minister refused to be drawn specifically on Goyder, he said Qantas had work to do.

“What we know is that Qantas has a lot of work to do to repair the damage that has been done to its reputation, both in terms of workers and in terms of customers.

“There is a need for Qantas, it’s an important Australian company, an important Australian brand internationally, and there’s a lot of work to do to repair its reputation,” said Albanese.

Goyder told the ABC last week that he still had the support of shareholders.

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