Sydney, Australia, Oct 23 (EFE).- Australia’s regulatory body reported Monday that the country’s senior public officials must declare their membership in the exclusive lounges of airlines such as Qantas or Virgin, which can only be accessed by invitation.
The new “Gifts and Benefits” guidelines require senior officials to annually declare these types of perks, “such as membership in an airline lounge,” the Australian Public Service Commission announced Monday on LinkedIn.
Under the updated guidelines, heads of Australian agencies will be required to annually record in their organizations’ records all gifts and benefits they receive, according to guidance from the Australian Public Service Commission.
They must also inform when the circumstances of these benefits change, such as a new membership or its cancellation.
The commission’s update comes after the business newspaper Australian Financial Review published on Oct. 6 that Qantas extended exclusive invitations to access the VIP lounge to senior officials and managers of key government agencies.
The access of senior officials to the so-called President’s Room has raised doubts regarding the Canberra Executive’s decision in July to deny Qatar Airways a request to expand its trips to the country by 21 weekly flights.
The measure was criticized by various political and civil sectors because it affects the free market and free competition, as well as for benefiting Qantas, a company mired in various reputation scandals, including the illegal dismissal of workers or the misleading promotion of thousands of canceled flight tickets.
Qantas has refused to reveal the list of exclusive lounge members – whose two-year membership is free and can be canceled at the airline’s discretion – citing privacy reasons.
Being a member of these Qantas President’s Lounges, which are distributed in six domestic airports in the country, also offer access to flexible flights or the possibility of obtaining better seats on planes, among other benefits.
The 36 commission’s guidelines, which aim to safeguard the integrity of the country’s public services and affect their immediate families, also require senior officials to disclose gifts exceeding AUD100 Australian ($63.2), among others. EFE