Elite male-only ‘gentlemen’s club’ in Sydney votes to continue banning female members

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP</span>
Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Members of an elite all-male “gentlemen’s club” in Sydney have voted against allowing women to join their ranks.

The Australian Club said on Tuesday that a “record turnout” of members at the special general meeting voted on the resolution, which would have amended the club’s constitution to allow female members.

“The meeting determined that the 75% threshold to pass the resolution was not met,” the club said in a statement.

The Macquarie Street club’s members include former Liberal prime ministers John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull. Both declined to comment on the outcome of the vote.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 693 member votes were cast with 62% against allowing women members, 37% in favour and 1% abstaining. There had been a campaign over several years for an amendment to the constitution.

Women are allowed to attend the club as guests. It was founded in 1838.

The Labor MP Andrew Leigh criticised the vote, which came after the club received more than $2m in jobkeeper payments that it decided not to repay despite doubling its surplus.

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According to its website, “tradition and modernity have been skilfully blended” at the club, which provides “excellent dining facilities, en-suite bedrooms and apartments, a fully equipped gym [and] … first-rate business facilities”.

It is one of several Australian clubs that still prevent women from becoming members including the Melbourne Savage Club.

That club offers membership by invitation “to gentlemen who are able to embrace the club’s ethos and who enjoy good fellowship”.

“Our members come from diverse backgrounds – the arts, law, medicine, science, military, entertainment and business,” its website states.

“Special interest groups that meet regularly over lunch or dinner are at the heart of the club’s activities. Fine wines, automobiles, poetry, literature, current affairs, sport and the arts are all embraced.

“Lady guests are welcome at the club at many functions and are always welcome at the club after 4.30pm on weekdays.”

Additional reporting by Ben Butler

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