Qantas unveils its new chairman to the delight of TWU

A Qantas Boeing B737-838, registration VH-VXO, taxis from the domestic terminal to the third runway of Sydney Kingsford-Smith Airport, heading to Brisbane as flight QF520.  In the background is the old air traffic control tower, next to the main north-south runway.  In the far distance are residential districts. This image was taken from Shep’s Mound at midday on a cloudy, windy and stormy day on 7 May 2023.
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    Qantas has announced two new board members, including a new chairman, as part of its ongoing renewal.

    John Mullen will join the Qantas board from 1 July 2024 as non-executive director and chairman elect, and will assume the role of chairman ahead of the company’s AGM this October.

    Dr Nora Scheinkestel will also join the board from 1 March 2024 as a non-executive director and chair of the Remuneration Committee.

    Both Mullen and Scheinkestel’s positions on the board will be put to shareholders at the AGM. Mullen expects to reduce his existing professional commitments over time.

    These new appointments follow the retirement of long-serving directors Maxine Brenner and Jacqueline Hey, who will step down after the company’s half year results tomorrow, and the retirement of current chairman, Richard Goyder, prior to the AGM.

    Announcing the changes, Goyder said: “Careful management of the board renewal process has been an important part of guiding Qantas through this intense period, and the selection of a new chair reflects a new chapter.

    “Vanessa Hudson and her team have made progress towards delivering better outcomes for customers, and I’m confident that momentum will continue with the guidance of new board members of such high calibre.”

    Mullen added: “It’s an extraordinary privilege to take up the chairmanship of the national carrier. It is a company that I have admired all my life and I am greatly looking forward to helping Vanessa and the management team take the company to new heights of service and performance excellence.

    “I am conscious of the time commitment that this prestigious role requires and will be adjusting my other professional obligations to ensure that I can be fully focussed on this exciting challenge.”

    Mullen has extensive experience across Australian business including a chairman roles at Telstra, Treasury Wine Estates and Brambles.

    The Transport Workers Union has welcomed Mullen’s appointment, arguing that this is a sign that the airline has finally understood the importance of listening to workers, rather than going to war with them.

    The TWU worked with Mullen during his tenure as chair of transport operator Toll Holdings from 2017 to 2022 and praised his open-door approach to the interests and concerns of the workforce.

    “This announcement is a glimmer of hope for workers forced into the trenches for 15 years by the dictatorial approach of the Joyce-Goyder leadership team,” TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

    “Workers never relented in holding to account the brutal, irresponsible decisions to split the workforce across 38 different entities, including through mass illegal sackings. It’s a testament to their ongoing fight that the airline has been dragged to a new approach.”

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