SA Tourism Commission board member Andrew Killey has resigned from his position, effective immediately, following the uproar caused by him ‘liking’ a racially offensive social media post, which claimed the State Labor Party gave Government contracts to “Greek crooks”.
On Sunday 30 September, Mr Killey tweeted: “I apologise if my ‘like’ tweet referring to ‘Greek Crooks’ has caused offence. It was dumb and I am genuinely sorry.”
Shortly afterwards, he submitted his official letter of resignation, in which he argued that he values being able to express himself freely. He said that he prefers to remain outspoken rather than being a member of the board.
“The events of the last few days have given me cause to consider the conflict between my right to public personal opinion and the responsibilities one has on a public board such as SATC (South Australian Tourism Commission),” wrote Mr Killey in his resignation letter, obtained and published in local newspaper The Advertiser.
“In my deliberations, I have come to the conclusion that to have the right to express a personal opinion is more important to me. This resignation is my decision entirely and I think it should be accepted immediately. Further, I hope it demonstrates my desire to protect the reputation of SATC, its board and the important work it does for SA,” said the co-founder of agency KWP! Advertising, who was appointed Director on the SATC Board in May.
SATC chairman Sean Keenihan confirmed Mr Killey had resigned from his $17,690-a-year position late on Sunday and thanked him “for his valuable contribution to the SATC board over the last six months.”
SA Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway said the remarks, which were posted by an anonymous and unverified account and later liked by Mr Killey, were “completely unacceptable and have no place in a civilised society” but thanked Killey for his contribution to the board and wished him well in the future.
“Andrew Killey’s actions on Twitter were racist and abhorrent in today’s multicultural Australia. Liking a racist tweet that was posted by a hate monger showed poor judgement by a person that represents the State Liberal Government on a board,” Greek Australian MP Steve Georganas told Neos Kosmos, adding that actions like these should never be tolerated in a society that prides itself on unity and tolerance and has welcomed people from all over the world.
“Mr Killey should apologise to all hard-working Greek Australians for his actions,” concluded Mr Georganas, whilst opposition Government Accountability spokesman Tom Koutsantonis MP said Mr Killey had shown great disrespect to the Greek community of SA.
“Greek Australians have contributed much to South Australia and this sort of racist rubbish doesn’t belong in the public debate,” stressed Mr Koutsantonis, whose views were also endorsed by former Federal Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Nick Bolkus.
“Killey’s assertion is nothing less than a racist smear against a committed, hard working and successful part of the South Australian community,” Mr Bolkus told Neos Kosmos.