South Australia’s Onkaparinga Council has announced it will not proceed with the appointment of Alastair Dawson to the role of CEO following community outrage over his comments regarding former Australian of the Year, Grace Tame.
In a statement, Acting Mayor, Simon McMahon said Council had listened to feedback from the community and Council staff regarding the appointment.
Mr Dawson (pictured) was appointed to the CEO role earlier this month, however the appointment was derailed shortly after when his social media commentary about Ms Tame was made public.
A local community group claimed Mr Dawson had described Ms Tame as “childish” and “immature” after she refused to smile while taking part in a photo opportunity with former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Mr Dawson posted on social media at the time: “This is what childish immature behaviour looks like. … her behaviour will be seen as nothing more than a spoilt brat who is undeserving of the Australian of the Year award.”
The group further alleged that Mr Dawson had been forced from his role as Vice-President of the Central Queensland University as a result of his comments.
In a statement, Council said Mr Dawson had confirmed he had not been stood down from the University over his comments and had signalled his intention to leave prior to making the social media statements about Ms Tame.
Council’s support of Mr Dawson, however, came to an end this week.
“Over the past week, Council has received feedback from the community and staff regarding the appointment of Mr Alastair Dawson to the role of Chief Executive Officer,” said Cr McMahon.
“In light of the feedback, and with the best interests of the community and council’s employees in mind, Alastair Dawson and the City of Onkaparinga have mutually agreed not to proceed with the intended appointment of Mr Dawson as CEO.
“Council confirms that expenses incurred by council are limited to reimbursement for preliminary relocation costs only.”
The costs are less than $10,000, the Mayor said.
“The Council thanks Mr Dawson for his interest in the position.”
The CEO recruitment process will be paused until after the November local government elections. Until that time Julia Grant will continue to serve as acting CEO.