Australia’s most exclusive men’s-only club, whose members include former prime ministers John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull, is tipped to vote against admitting women when the matter is put to a ballot next week.
The Australian Club, on Macquarie Street in the heart of Sydney, is a private club founded in 1838 which only allows men to register for membership though women can attend as guests.
After 183 years, members will vote on Tuesday vote as to whether women should be permitted to join the club, The Australian reports.
But a change in the rules requires 75 per cent of the vote, and a confidential survey in 2018 found only 55 per cent of then members were ‘prepared to consider the issue of women members in the foreseeable future’.
The Australian Club, on Macquarie Street in the heart of Sydney (pictured), will host a vote among members next week on whether women should be allowed to become members of the club
The private club (pictured) was founded in 1838 and only allows men to register for membership
Federal Court judge Peter Graham is reportedly leading the push against female membership, having disseminated a letter on May 31 saying only a handful of members had broached the issue.
In the letter, he expressed concerns that prolonged discussions on the matter would be a waste of time and only serve to embarrass the club.
‘The harm that will be done to the club by the publicity of the club’s affairs in gossip columns etc may be incapable of repair,’ he wrote.
Advocates of female membership include retired Supreme Court judge Michael Pembroke and former Credit Suisse banker David Kent.
Opponents of the measure have called for the vote in a bid to lay the discussion to rest – but the debate is likely to persist.
The Australian Club was once housed in this stately building near Macquarie St, Sydney. Picture reproduced with permission from the State Library Victoria
The club is now located in a nondescript building on Macquarie St – the city’s corridor of power
The Australian Club’s president John Stanham said the vote was the biggest talking point among members and has called on marketing research firm The Navigators and their auditors, Deloitte, to run another survey on the issue.
‘The proposal presents a significant and complex matter for the club to explore,’ Mr Stanham wrote to members in May.
‘It is important that decisions are based on reliable and relevant member insights, hence the importance of consulting broadly with members on this matter … For clarity, this simple survey seeks your response on the proposal only, rather than the substantive matter of female members, at this point.’
Members of the club must be invited to join, they cannot apply, and undergo an intense interview process and provide several references from existing members.
Once lucky punters get through the doors, they will be rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s biggest names but must pay a four-figure annual membership for the privilege.
Former prime minister John Howard and wife Janette Howard (pictured) arrive for his 80th birthday function at The Australian Club in July 2019
The club has boasted many powerful and influential members including Kerry Packer and his son James, George Pell and John Howard, who celebrated his 80th birthday there.
Under the strict rules, women are allowed to enter the club and mingle with the country’s elite, but only if they are accompanied by an existing male member.
Some of Australia’s top businessmen, barristers, academics, surgeons and judges are also members.
The club enforces a strict dress code and members are only allowed to wear suits and ties.
It features several dining facilities, ensuite bedrooms, apartments and a gym.
Not much information has ever been revealed about the goings-on in the club as its members are under a stern code of silence.
The club has boasted several celebrity members including Kerry Packer and his son James (pictured together).