Justin Hemmes: pubbaron Merivale spends long weekend over Easter partying – amid pay scandal

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Pub baron Justin Hemmes spent his Easter Saturday partying on a boat with seven bikini-clad women after his Merivale empire took a major blow in court.

The Rich Lister, 48, cheered up this long weekend with a bevy of beauties in perfect 27 degree Sydney Harbor weather.

The shirtless chief executive was photographed transporting the women – including model love interest Madeleine Holtznagel, 24 – and two men to his waterfront estate in Vaucluse by speedboat around 7pm.

Several ladies danced to throbbing music when Hemmes entered the jetty of his monumental mansion on the harbor.

“They were clearly having a good time,” said one observer. “It looked like they’d been on a bigger boat all day.”

Hemmes’ love interest of late 24-year-old model Madeleine Holtznagel, was seen draping her arm around the businessman’s neck as he steered the boat to shore.

At another point, the pub baron put his arm around a dark brown guest to show her something on his cell phone screen before wading out to dry land.

The weekend’s good vibes came just days after Hemmes’s company took a major blow in federal court last Tuesday, which could end with 14,000 one-time Merivale employees being paid back up to $ 129 million in wages.

'They were clearly having a good time': Billionaire pub-baron Hemmes, 48, brought at least seven women - including love interest Madeleine Holtznagel - and two men back to his historic mansion in the Vaucluse on Saturday night

‘They were clearly having a good time’: Billionaire pub-baron Hemmes, 48, brought at least seven women – including love interest Madeleine Holtznagel – and two men back to his historic mansion in the Vaucluse on Saturday night

Hemmes steered the speedboat - apparently from a larger cruiser on the harbor - with Holtznagel hugging and her arm draped around the businessman's neck.

Hemmes steered the speedboat - apparently from a larger cruiser on the harbor - with Holtznagel hugging and her arm draped around the businessman's neck.

Hemmes steered the speedboat – apparently from a larger cruiser on the harbor – hugging Holtznagel and putting her arm around the businessman’s neck

It's party time!  Mrs. Holtznagel, dressed in bikini, raised her arm in the air - apparently gesturing towards the shore - while Hemmes sailed his boat to the dock at the harbor

It's party time!  Mrs. Holtznagel, dressed in bikini, raised her arm in the air - apparently gesturing towards the shore - while Hemmes sailed his boat to the dock at the harbor

It’s party time! Ms. Holtznagel, dressed in bikini, raised her arm in the air – apparently gesturing towards the shore – as Hemmes sailed his boat to his dock on the harbor

Ever Sir, Hemmes helped Mrs. Holtznagel with a bag as she got off his boat to shore with their friends

Ever Sir, Hemmes helped Mrs. Holtznagel with a bag as she got off his boat to shore with their friends

Ever Sir, Hemmes helped Mrs. Holtznagel with a bag as she got off his boat to shore with their friends

Anyone Getting Out: The women above were dropped off at Hemmes' historic waterfront mansion in Sydney's Vaucluse

Anyone Getting Out: The women above were dropped off at Hemmes' historic waterfront mansion in Sydney's Vaucluse

Anyone Getting Out: The women above were dropped off at Hemmes’ historic waterfront mansion in Sydney’s Vaucluse

Hemmes’ Merivale operates some 70 pubs, restaurants and hotels in Sydney, including some of the best-known venues: the Coogee Pavilion, Newport Arms Hotel, The Ivy and the Establishment.

Last week, Justice Tom Thawley ruled that a 2009 WorkChoices agreement Merivale signed in the first place had not been validly approved, despite passing a so-called “ fairness test ” with the regulator.

The decision means that more than 14,000 employees could instead be covered by the industry price and are due fines and overtime arrears between 2013 and 2019.

In a statement, Merivale told the Australian Financial Review that the decision was “ extremely concerning ” as it believed their agreement had passed the so-called fairness test in place at the time.

As the lawsuit continues, Merivale is expected to ask the judge to use his discretion to waive compensation because the regulator falsely approved the wage agreement.

Adero Law, who is leading the class action, told Daily Mail Australia it would counter such a move by claiming that Merivale’s employees are the real victims.

“We think we can overcome Merivale’s argument,” said Tom Hakkinen, senior associate at Adero Law.

Even if Merivale is an innocent party because they depended on a Commonwealth officer, the employees are a third party affected and also an innocent party we would say are more innocent – and they had no idea what was going on about the hand.

Hemmes' love interest, Mrs. Holtznagel, scrambles from the businessman's boat to the coast, above

Hemmes' love interest, Mrs. Holtznagel, scrambles from the businessman's boat to the coast, above

Hemmes’ love interest, Mrs. Holtznagel, scrambles from the businessman’s boat to the coast, above

At one point, Hemmes seemed to show a brunette guy on board the speedboat something on a phone

At one point, Hemmes seemed to show a brunette guy on board the speedboat something on a phone

The couple got close to see what the businessman was showing her

The couple got close to see what the businessman was showing her

At one point, Hemmes appeared to be showing a brunette guest on board the speedboat something on a cell phone. The pair came close (to the right) to inspect it

Hemmes, the brunette and another man waded into dry land after parking the boat - Hemmes was holding his cell phone dangerously

Hemmes, the brunette and another man waded into the country after parking the boat - Hemmes was holding his cell phone dangerously

Hemmes, the brunette and another man waded into the country after parking the boat – Hemmes was holding his cell phone dangerously

Hemmes and his male and female friends took to the coast after a presumably a day out at the harbor

Hemmes and his male and female friends took to the coast after a presumably a day out at the harbor

Hemmes and his male and female friends took to the coast after a presumably a day out at the harbor

The weekend's good vibes came days after Merivale was slapped in court defense in a battle over whether Merivale should pay up to $ 129 million in wages

The weekend's good vibes came days after Merivale was slapped in court defense in a battle over whether Merivale should pay up to $ 129 million in wages

The weekend’s good vibes came days after Merivale was slapped in court defense in a battle over whether Merivale should pay up to $ 129 million in wages

“Merivale certainly should not succeed against its employees’ safety net rights.”

Adero’s director, Rory Markham, said, “There has never been any precedent that it has allowed an employer to escape paying safety net wages to employees.”

Mr. Hakkinen said the court should take into account that “Merivale had a huge advantage in the industry over competitors who did not have a wage agreement that undermined the price.”

Merivale has said it will defend the class action until the final hearing, with a spokeswoman telling the Financial Review that it has “denied liability in respect of the claims in the proceedings.”

Hemmes took over the Merivale group in 1997 from his father, John, who named Merivale after his wife. He runs the business with his sister, Bettina.

Madeleine, Hemmes’ love interest, told the Sydney Morning Herald last October that she shouldn’t introduce Justin to her parents just yet.

“My parents and my sister Anna haven’t met him yet, but (her other sister) Simone was introduced to him and really liked him,” she said.

When asked about his newfound romance, a reluctant Justin told the paper at the time, “We’re hanging out a bit.”