PIAA employees accused of sending homophobic, racist messages

PIAA employees accused of sending homophobic, racist messages
Paul Mitchell, Marcus Bastiaan embroiled in scandal surrounding slurs towards Indian and Catholic Victorian Liberal Party members

Two employees of the PIAA, Paul Mitchell and Marcus Bastiaan, have been accused of sending homophobic and racist messages in a Victorian Liberal Party messenger group.

The messages, dating from April 2017 to April 2018, use the word “curries” to refer to Indian members of the party, which in the screenshots appears to have come from Mitchell, while a reference to “fag Catholics,” appears to be written by Bastiaan.

The story was broken by Samantha Hutchinson in The Age, and includes the below screenshots of messages, which Australian Printer has obtained permission from the publication to run.


The messages were sent in the context of Mitchell and Bastiaan’s work with the Liberal Party, not Printing Industries, although the dates indicate that Mitchell was working for the PIAA when some of the messages were sent.

Mitchell is the national workplace relations manager for the PIAA, while Bastiaan is the association’s national business development manager.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO, Printing Industries, says Bastiaan resigned from the PIAA six-weeks ago. Below are emails sent by Bastiaan to Brian Moore, publisher, Australian Printer, the most recent of which was dated December 17, some three days ago.


Bastiaan was the former Victorian vice-president of the Liberal Party, leaving in September, prior to the party’s crushing defeat in the November state election.

Mitchell is the steering committee chair of the Victorian Liberals, a part-time, unpaid role he held in conjunction with his full-time job as national workplace relations manager of the PIAA.

When asked if there is any conflict of interest between Mitchell’s work with the Liberal Party, and his work with the PIAA, Printing Industries CEO, Andrew Macaulay, says, “He does not send out communications with state elections, and is no longer involved with the Liberal Party.”

As recently as November 19 Mitchell sent Australian Printer a press release which included the line: “Most opinion polls have Labor ahead, however, the Coalition does seem to have run a consistent campaign.”

Mitchell’s role at Printing Industries would command a six-figure salary, according to an ex-employee of the PIAA, despite Mitchell not being a qualified legal practitioner prior to his hiring in 2017.

On being asked whether Mitchell had any significant courtroom or workplace relations experience prior to his appointment, Macaulay says, “Paul Mitchell was recommended to us by one of the most preeminent industrial relations lawyers in the country.

“Mitchell only represents Printing Industries in the Fair Work Commission.”

In one case before the Federal Circuit Court in August 2017, Mitchell represented Printing Industries against a former employee fired one day after the association Christmas party. In the ruling, he was admonished by Judge Joshua Wilson.

In Wilson’s judgement, he noted, “He [Mitchell] did not know of the order that was made, despite the fact that he appeared before me when I pronounced the order, and despite the fact that a copy of the order was entered on the court portal, which almost every litigant in cases in this court consult. He also said that the order may have been sent to an employee who no longer works for the respondent. Neither submission were at all attractive to me.”

The employee won their case against the PIAA, with the association ordered to pay the $5000 owed to her.

When this specific case was put to Macaulay, he responded, “Mitchell does periodically do work with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.”

When questioned on whether the employee was fired in the period after the association Christmas party, Macaulay says, “I cannot go into detail over the circumstances over any employees dismissal. It is inappropriate, and I do not see the relevance. She worked for us, and no longer works for us, and it was quite some time ago.”

It is not the first time Mitchell has been reported on, with a story in the Australian Financial Review in April 2016 referring to him as “Michael Kroger’s milkman” following a Snapchat photo of Mitchell topless, squeezing his breast, captioned ‘Want milk?’ being spread around Liberal Party circles.

Describing the photo, AFR journalist Bryce Corbett says, “The photo is an extreme close-up, and involves dark hairs on pasty skin and a distended nipple.”

The Age has reported that Bastiaan has denied sending the messages, and that Bastiaan’s lawyers have claimed that they came from a work phone used by multiple people.

Mitchell has issued a formal apology to the Printing Industries board, while not confirming that he sent the messages, telling Australian Printer, “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 amongst someone of Indian heritage, and was not intended to cause any offense.”

Macaulay says, “Our view is that he is sincere in his apology, and there was no derogatory intent in his comments, though he has been reprimanded.”

Source: Australian Printer

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