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EXCLUSIVE: Mitchell leaves PIAA over curry texts

Friday, 21 December 2018
By Wayne Robinson

Gone: Paul Mitchell

The PIAA has workplace relations manager Paul Mitchell has left the association, a day after news broke in the Fairfax press of his texts referring to Liberal party members in Victoria with Indian heritage as as curries.

Mitchell continues to deny the texts were his, but offered profuse apologies regardless. He did offer to resign, which was at first refused. However PIAA CEO Andrew Macaulay and the Board met last night, and concluded Mitchell must go.

Macaulay says, “When the news broke the PIAA needed to follow due process, especially as we set the standard for employment in the industry. We needed to investigate the situation fully, and give Paul the opportunity to explain himself.

“I told him that these comments, regardless of whether they were in a private context, do not align themselves with the values of the PIAA, which does not discriminate on race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else, and told him he seems to have transgressed on all of these.

“The Board – as representatives of the membership – and I then took decision, unanimously, that he had to go. There could only be one outcome.”

In his role as Victoria Liberal party steering committee chair Mitchell was exchanging the texts with Marcus Bastiaan, Victoria Liberal party vice president, discussing how to bolster their, conservative, faction.

Bastiaan – who in the texts referred to ‘fag catholics’ – was also working for the PIAA, contracted since March in a lobbying role, although he had handed in his notice on November 5.

The texts were doubly embarrassing to the PIAA, as not only were they from one of its senior employees, albeit not in his PIAA role, but the Melbourne print industry has a sizeable number of company owners with heritage from the sub-continent.

Responding to comments that the the PIAA is too closely aligned with the Liberal party, as Mitchell and Bastiaan were both party powerbrokers Macaulay says, “The PIAA is determinedly apolitical. We have people who are active in both the ALP and the Liberal party, as a great many other organisations do, but I tell all staff to leave their political positions at the door on their way in.

“In our lobbying role it is natural that we would hire politically connected people – we had an ex-senator on the books – but their sole focus is on working for the benefit of members and the print industry.”

Mitchell’s departure will not affect the availability of the PIAA’s industrial relations advice, with the hotline open every day over the holiday period bar Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Macaulay says, “The service will be 100 per cent, there is no change there.”


One Response to “EXCLUSIVE: Mitchell leaves PIAA over curry texts”

  1. December 21, 2018 at 3:12 pm,

    Gerd KING

    Dear oh dear, what tender snowflakes, I bet the Indians don’t care greatly. But somebody got offended on behalf of somebody else so the poor bloke has to go. Would Germans get offended being called krauts? I don’t!

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