A NSW regional council is in damage control after one of its councillors was caught sending out a racist email with derogatory comments about Indigenous Australians.
- Kevin Parker was suspended from his job as a Bank of Queensland branch manager
- The Dubbo Mayor said councillors and staff were “gutted” and “shell-shocked” by the email
- Aboriginal people make up about 20 per cent of Dubbo’s population
The email, seen by the ABC, was sent by councillor Kevin Parker on January 17 to at least 21 other people.
The email alluded to the children’s tale Snow White where the seven dwarves’ character names were replaced with offensive stereotypes about Indigenous employment, productivity and crime.
Mr Parker, a National Party councillor, apologised for the email, including to colleagues at the Bank of Queensland (BOQ), where he is a part-time branch manager.
“I do admit that I did send it on, I did get it off the Facebook and it was certainly no malice meant,” he said.
“I’ve been in the banking game for a long, long time.
“I’ve approved loans for Aboriginal people, I’ve employed Aboriginal people — if I was a racist, I wouldn’t have done any of those things.”
A BOQ spokesperson said it became aware of the email yesterday and has suspended Mr Parker while it conducts a full investigation.
“This incident does not reflect how BOQ aspires to treat our First Nations people and we offer our sincerest apologies,” they said.
Dubbo Mayor Ben Shields said the incident was deeply disappointing and would be investigated as a breach of the council’s code of conduct.
He said council staff and the Dubbo community were “gutted” and “shell-shocked” by the email.
“It’s very important that young Indigenous people in Dubbo understand that their council has their back,” he said.
“This is a statement from one councillor who has totally lost his way.”
Indigenous Australians make up about 20 per cent of Dubbo’s population.
Former NRL player and Dubbo Indigenous advocate Joe Williams said he was appalled by the email.
“For Aboriginal people in this country, it is a constant, constant battle to continuously come up against such stereotypes and hate,” he said.
“I actually live in the ward that this councillor represents. Does that represent me? I don’t think so.”
Mr Parker said he did not believe he should be stood down from Dubbo Regional Council.
“When I first saw it I just had a bit of a chuckle to myself, sort of light humour … I didn’t think there was any malice in it,” he said.
“I don’t see it as being racist and it wasn’t meant to be racist, it was just something I forwarded on.”