The Print & Visual Communications Association (PVCA) has again had shade cast over it with revelations that former employee, Marcus Bastiaan, was operating as a hard-right Victorian Liberal Party branch stacking operative while employed by the then Printing Industries Association of Australia (PIAA).
Bastiaan, 30, was employed by the PIAA as a national business development manager for nine months in 2018, the same time he was alleged to have been quite busy stacking branches for the Liberal Party in Victoria.
He was also the Victorian vice-president of the Liberal Party but quit that role in September 2018, prior to the party’s crushing defeat in the November 2018 state election.
It is understood that Bastiaan resigned from the PIAA in December 2018 after allegations emerged that he, and another fellow PIAA staffer and former national workplace relations manager Paul Mitchell, had been caught out sending racist text messages that referred to Liberal Party members of Indian descent as “curries” and also referred to other members as “fag Catholics”.
The racist texts were allegedly sent in a messaging group while the pair were working for the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party, but the fact they were also employed by the PIAA meant their positions were no longer tenable within the association.
Both of them denied to have sent the messages, telling The Age newspaper, at the time, that the phones they were sent from were accessible by a large number of other people.
But nonetheless, when the allegations emerged in mainstream media, Mitchell promptly resigned with the association’s CEO Andrew Macaulay saying his actions had been “admonished”.
The departure of Bastiaan was not so clear cut.
It is not exactly clear when Bastiaan left the PIAA. At the time Australian Printer’s then editor, Paul Brescia, was told he had left the PIAA six weeks before the racist text message allegations were aired.
But emails sent by Bastiaan himself to Brian Moore, the then-publisher of Australian Printer, indicate he was employed at least until December 17, 2018.
PVCA chief executive officer Andrew Macaulay has quickly moved to distance himself from the latest saga, telling Sprinter he had no knowledge of Bastiaan’s alleged side-hustle.
“We know nothing about it. He was employed by us to run some aspects of our commercial operations which he did very well. I can’t speak to the allegations at all,” Macaulay told Sprinter yesterday.
“I cannot comment about it because I didn’t know anything about it at the time, nor do I know anything about it now other than what we are all reading in the newspapers.
“It sounds like a squabble between a whole bunch of factions in Victoria’s Liberal Party to me. It’s got nothing to do with us.”
In terms of how Bastiaan came to be employed by the PIAA, Macaulay said he got the job just like anyone else would by answering a job ad.
“He had performance metrics that he had to work to and the first we were aware of it (the text message scandal) was when he left us,” Macaulay said.
“It’s got nothing to do with the PIAA and these allegations have no relevance to what he did for us.”
Whether the PIAA knew what Bastiaan was up to or not, it is undeniable that having employees – past or present – in the ranks that are linked to these kinds of allegations cannot be a good thing for the association or the broader industry.
Bastiaan himself has denied all wrongdoing, although he has now completely resigned from the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party.
He released the below statement that was reported by the ABC:
In resigning from the Victorian Liberal Party, Bastiaan made the following statement, as reported by the ABC:
“I reject allegations of branch stacking. As the voluntary chair of the Party’s Membership and Training Committee between 2015 and 2018 my role was to recruit and train new members.
“Two years ago, I stepped down from the Party’s Administrative Committee to focus on my family and business. These priorities have not changed.
“Clearly, I have said foolish and stupid things in my twenties. I apologise without reservation to those I have offended, and hope I’ll be wiser and kinder in my thirties.
“The ongoing leaking of years old historic material is an unnecessary distraction for the Liberal Party and it is with that in mind that I have resigned.”
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