Paul Mitchell, the national workplace relations manager of the PIAA, has left the organisation overnight, following a text scandal in which he appeared to refer to Indian Liberal Party members as “curries”.
Mitchell is yet to confirm he made the texts, instead offering an apology to Australian Printer noting, “I would like to provide an unreserved apology for those alleged comments. I can not confirm whether or not I did make the messages, as I do not have a copy of the thread, which is why I denied it in the Fairfax thread. If they were made, I apologise unreservedly for causing any offense.
“The word curry was not meant to be use in a derogatory manner. If it was made, and if it is true, the comment was made among someone of Indian heritage, and was not intended to cause any offense.”
Australian Printer reported yesterday that Mitchell had offered a resignation to the PIAA, which was rejected by the board.
Andrew Macaulay, CEO, PIAA, told Australian Printer yesterday, “Paul Mitchell has issued an abject apology to me and the board. He is very contrite, his view is that he is very upset that anybody would think he has been derogatory to Indians. It was a private conversation between him and a friend who is Indian.
“Our view is that he is sincere in his apology, and there was no derogatory intent in his comments, though he has been reprimanded.
“It is unrelated to his employment at Printing Industries, and we have admonished him and made it clear that that type of behaviour is unaccepted at Printing Industries.”
Folowing pressure from members to the PIAA board, Mitchell’s position became untenable, with the board saying during a meeting last night that it decided he needed to go.
Mitchell says, "I resigned yesterday morning, but my resignation was not accepted. Later that evening, I reflected that I did not want to distract from the mission of the organisation and the positive work that it is doing, and thought it best that it finds someone else for the role for 2019.
“I have every confidence that 2019 will be a strong year for both the Printing Industries association, and the printing industry at large. It has been a pleasure to have worked with, and served members' companies over the past 18 months."
Australian Printer has contacted Macaulay this morning for clarification on how Mitchell left the organisation, but was unable to get a response.
Relating to the second Victorian Liberal Party powerbroker, and PIAA employee, at the centre of the text scandal, Marcus Bastiaan, who had seemingly made reference to “fag Catholics”, Macaulay pointed out that he had resigned six weeks ago. Emails show he was still a part of the PIAA as recently as Monday, and it is currently unclear when Bastiaan will be officially leaving his role, though clarification has been sought with the PIAA.
The texts were made in a Victorian Liberal Party messenger group, with Mitchell at the time holding a volunteer position as steering committee chair. Samantha Hutchinson of The Age broke the story, and has since followed up with a piece alleging Mitchell and Bastian had made an attempt to stack the branch with conversative religious groups, including Mormons, pulling the party to the right.
Correction: The story originally reported that Mitchell was fired. Mitchell has since contacted Australian Printer saying that he offered a second resignation last night, and was not fired as previously reported.
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