The Sydney Morning Herald reported this morning that the CEO of Australia's peak body for travel agents, said on a webinar that Tracey "needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face".
Jayson Westbury, Chief Executive of Australian Federation of Travel Agents, made the comments in a since-deleted video, while speaking about how the negative publicity surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the travel industry was being addressed.
The CEO has now been forced to step down over the issue, as confirmed in a statement from the organisation.
“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 in a statement.
“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 former CEO said in a statement this morning.
Jayson Westbury’s resignation is effective immediately, and he has been replaced by Courtney Duddleston in the interim.
The firestorm kicked off after Mr Westbury told stakeholders: "I won’t ever be watching it (Channel 9's ACA) again. I think that Tracy Grimshaw needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face, and I mean that virtually, of course, I wouldn’t want to invoke (sic) any violence on anyone."
"But, I mean, some of the behaviour and some of the language that’s being used on that program is just outrageous."
The video, which was originally published on YouTube and the AFTA website, was swiftly taken down.
Mr Westbury went on to say that "the best thing to do for A Current Affair is just to stop watching."
"That way you’ll stop worrying. I’ve personally boycotted it, won’t be ever watching it again."
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the travel industry to come to a standstill with many people looking for refunds as it became obvious those plans will no longer go ahead.
However, some customers have found it difficult to get their money back with many travel agencies either refusing the refunds or offering credit notes only.
A Current Affair covered a story last week about a family who was refused a refund by STA Travel for a three-week holiday to the US, leaving them thousands of dollars out of pocket.
There were instant calls for Mr Westbury to step down over the comments, which have angered many people on social media.
The Older Women’s Network took to Facebook to share their thoughts on the matter, writing: "He said publicly in a seminar to travel agents that 'Tracy Grimshaw needs to be given a firm uppercut or a good slap across the face.' Then he said he meant it 'virtually'. Virtually or not, that is 100% 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. We deplore violence against women in any way, shape or form."
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