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Travel boss resigns over ‘firm uppercut’ comment aimed at ACA host

Earlier on Wednesday, the A Current Affair presenter admonished the businessman for his remarks.

Mr Westbury recorded an interview on Wednesday morning that was set to be broadcast on A Current Affair on Wednesday night, in which he apologised for his comments.

In comments revealed in The Age on Tuesday, Mr Westbury told agents in an online seminar that: “I won’t ever be watching it (Channel Nine’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,” he said.

A recording of the seminar, published on YouTube and on the AFTA website, was later removed. Mr Westbury declined to comment when contacted by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, also owned by Nine.

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A Current Affair and other media outlets including The Age have reported extensively on travel agents charging exorbitant cancellation fees as trips have been cancelled due to restrictions implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Ms Grimshaw said the violent language used by Mr Westbury was unacceptable.

“I’ve probably heard worse stuff than that in my life, and I’m not the type to be in the foetal position in the corner when things like that get said, but at the same time it doesn’t slide these days,” she said on radio station 3AW.

“It’s bad behaviour, it’s bad language, you can’t talk like that about women.”

Earlier in the day, the AFTA website removed all videos from its website featuring updates by the former chief executive.

Jayson Westbury.

Jayson Westbury.Credit:Luis Ascui

Photos of AFTA’s staff – including Mr Westbury and other male staff in suits and female staff in cocktail dresses holding up signs – were also removed.

On May 5, Mr Westbury wrote in a message to members that travel agents should be free to charge “whatever” cancellation fee they liked and questioned the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ability to regulate cancellation fees.

“At a time when the travel agency community is hurting beyond words, beyond the contemplation of Hamlet, it would be wrong of me to say any other word than to charge,” he wrote.

“AFTA holds the strong view that travel agents are, where terms and conditions allow, free to charge whatever fee they feel necessary in order to operate and run their business.

“The ACCC does not have the power to set cancellation fees nor does it have the power to override existing cancellation clauses.”

A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw.

A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw.

AFTA’s board this afternoon unanimously agreed to accept Mr Westbury’s resignation and appointed Courtney Duddleston as acting General Manager Operations while a recruitment process is put in place to find Mr Westbury’s replacement.

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