Travel boss resigns over Tracy Grimshaw 'uppercut' remark
The CEO of a peak travel agent body who made violent comments towards journalist Tracey Grimshaw offered his resignation on Wednesday afternoon.
Jayson Westbury said during a webinar that the A Current Affair host deserved "a firm uppercut" after her program reported negatively on the travel industry.
A statement from the Australian Federation of Travel Agents said that Mr Westbury resigned because of his comments, which he now knows were "inappropriate and unacceptable in any circumstances".
"His choice of words cannot be condoned. His work history stands in good stead for the service he has provided to the travel industry and AFTA's members," Chairman Tom Manwaring said.
"My comments relating to Ms Grimshaw involved a very poor choice of words. I apologise for that choice and accept the language used was completely inappropriate," said AFTA CEO Jayson Westbury said in a statement this morning.
Mr Westbury made the comments in an AFTA member webinar on Friday, which was shared on YouTube and the organisation's website, before being deleted.
The webinar was to update to industry members following negative publicity about the travel industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The comments were widely condemned by women's groups and anti-domestic violence campaigners, many of whom called for Mr Westbury to stand down.
In the webinar, Mr Westbury said the ACA host "needs to be given a firm upper cut or a good slap across the face" over the show's reporting of a travel industry refund scandal.
"There have been further pretty ordinary ACA stories going on about members of AFTA, as far as I am concerned no one's guilty of anything," he said.
"I've personally boycotted it, I won't be ever watching it again, I think that Tracy Grimshaw needs to be given a firm upper cut or a good slap across the face.
"And I mean that virtually, of course, I wouldn't want to invoke any violence on anyone but some of the behaviour and some of language used on that program is just outrageous."
Red Heart founder and anti-domestic violence campaigner Sherele Moody said Mr Westbury should be sacked.
"CEO Jayson Westbury says A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw "needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face" for doing her damn job," she posted on Twitter.
"I say Westbury needs to be sacked. No ifs. No f***ing buts! Violence against women is never the answer."
The Older Women's Network also called for the travel boss to stand down.
"He said he meant it "virtually". Virtually or not, that is 100 per cent unacceptable. As the industry's leader, he is paid to represent the interests of travel agents. Unless they support violence against women, this man has to be stood down."
The comments come as police and victim support groups cautiously watch domestic violence rates after Australians were urged to stay at home to beat the spread of COVID-19.
NSW Police has not reported dramatic increases in DV offences, but other organisations, like Victim Services and support centres, have recorded more calls for help during the pandemic.
Jaeneen Cunningham, executive director of Safe Haven, a national network supporting women escaping domestic abuse, said the language used by Mr Westbury was 'completely inappropriate".
"It just makes all our work go back two steps, when people talk like that in the national spotlight," Ms Cunningham said.
"We work really hard as volunteers to change that narrative, that language.
"If people like this are not called out and there are no consequences to their actions, they just get away with it. It's not appropriate. There has to be some sort of consequences to that."
Mr Westbury's address in the webinar followed criticism of the travel industry after thousands of Australians forced to cancel travel plans ahead of airline announcements were hit with hefty cancellation fees.
The ACCC has received more than 6000 complaints over cancellation fees.
Originally published as CEO resigns after Tracy Grimshaw "uppercut" comment