The Royal Queensland Golf Club unlawfully discriminated against Barbara Barnett, pictured, in 2016. Picture: AAP/Sarah Marshall
The Royal Queensland Golf Club unlawfully discriminated against Barbara Barnett, pictured, in 2016. Picture: AAP/Sarah Marshall

Elite golf club guilty of sex discrimination

ONE of Queensland's most exclusive golf clubs has been found guilty of sex discrimination against a female member.

Federal Circuit Court judge Michael Jarrett ruled the Royal Queensland Golf Club unlawfully discriminated against Barbara Barnett in 2016 because its playing schedule blocked her from playing 18 holes of golf on Wednesdays.

But Judge Jarrett found that the club did not discriminate against her in the 2017 season when it changed its roster.

 

The Royal Queensland Golf Club. Picture: Darren England
The Royal Queensland Golf Club. Picture: Darren England

Mrs Barrett, who was one of the club's nine women "full members" at the time of the hearing, said in a statement that Judge Jarrett's decision confirmed the club could have fixed its discriminatory conduct by allowing full female members to play after 11.45am on Wednesdays.

The bitter legal battle is believed to have cost the club's membership thousands of dollars in legal fees.

President Andrew Greville would not reveal how much.

He said he did not want the decision to be presented as a win or loss.

"The club is happy with the outcome … (it) has validated the club's position that the current play program complies with the Sex Discrimination Act," he said.

The Royal Queensland Golf Club.
The Royal Queensland Golf Club.

The court heard last year that the club's 1733 members was made up of 1390 men and 343 women.

Mr Greville said the 2019 playing schedule would be decided by the club's eight-man and one-woman board.

"The courts and the vast majority of members here believe the club is acting responsibly in the interests of its members and in compliance with the law," Mr Greville said.

"The vast majority of our members are very happy with the playing program at the club."

The parties are due to make submissions to the court on December 20 and the case may return to decide costs.



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