Airline bans senator after she calls its CEO a “poof” and rants at staff

Jacqui Lambie
Jacqui Lambie (inset) has been barred by Qantas for six months. (Photo: MadDogSPR – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Shutterstock)

Qantas, the national airline carrier for Australia, has banned a senator from Tasmania for six months after she went on a foul-mouthed rant at staff.

The incident took place on March 25 at Melbourne Airport. Qantas staff had apparently stopped Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie from entering the invitation-only Chairman’s Lounge at the airport. This prompted Lambie to start becoming abusive.

The exchange was caught on CCTV, including Lambie referring to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who is gay, as a “poof”.

Lambie also went on to use the term “pussy power” when arguing with the lounge check-in team.

Qantas has now banned Lambie for six months from traveling on any of its planes.

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Today, on Australia’s Nine News, Lambie did not dispute this version of events and apologized, saying she’d been having a bad day and had been under a lot of stress at work in recent weeks.

“It was the end of a long week in Canberra. I’d backed into a car that morning, got a speeding ticket on the way to work, and my flight home was delayed.

“It was a bad day for me. But it was worse for the poor Qantas staff who had to stand and take my rant. I have apologized to the staff for my actions, and I’d like to do so again.

“I’ll take whatever punishment Qantas throws at me. I’ve done the crime and I’ll do the time, because that’s what I deserve.”

She was also asked about it on Australia’s Today show, at around the 6’20-minute mark below.

After Tim Cook at Apple, Qantas’s Alan Joyce, 54, is arguably the most high-profile, openly gay CEO of an internationally known brand. Born in Ireland, Joyce began his career at Aer Lingus in 1988, before joining Qantas in 2000 and rising to become its CEO.

A longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights, he personally donated AUS$1million toward the campaign for marriage equality in Australia. He married his husband, Shayne Lloyd, in Sydney in November 2019.

Related: Openly gay CEO gets pie smashed in his face during speech

Neither Qantas nor Joyce have made any official statement about Lambie’s ban.

Lambie first served as a senator from 2014 to 2017, and was re-elected in 2019 leading her own Jacqui Lambie Network party.

It’s not the first time she has caused controversy. Appearing on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here in 2019, she was caught on camera criticizing the Tasmanian Lower House passing trans-inclusive laws: “Now we’re into moving Australia Day, we’re into transgender and making sure we can change their fucking birth certificates. Stupid Tasmania, they did that just before Christmas time.”

In 2014, she apologized after a radio interview in which she described her ideal man as “well off” and “well hung.”