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Top travel agent wins Australia’s most sexist remark 2020

Australian Federation of Travel Agents CEO Jayson Westbury took out the Gold Ernie award at the 28th annual Ernies for sexist remarks, which were announced on Thursday night, 1 October.

The top travel agent won the biggest award of the night and the Industrial Silver Award for saying Channel Nine reporter Tracey Grimshaw needed “to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face” for her reporting of a travel industry refund scandal.

Usually, the awards are presented at a formal dinner for around 350 women, where the winners of each category of “world class sexism and inappropriate speech” are decided by the loudness of the boos, as each sexist remark is introduced.

Ernies founder and organiser Dr Meredith Burgmann said this years’ awards were a little different because of COVID restrictions.

“This year we held a virtual awards night where an ‘Ernies Council of Elders’ chose the winners of the categories and the eventual Gold Ernie from the hundreds of nominations that have been sent in during the year from over 3,000 women,” Dr Burgmann said. 

“It is remarkable that what began as a joke 28 years ago has become an institution.

“The winner of the Gold Ernie is often a surprise and in 28 years I have never managed to predict the winner,” Dr Burgmann said.

There were 238 nominations in six categories: media, political, judicial, industrial, sport (The Warney) and clerical/celebrity (The Fred), plus The Elaine (for sexist remarks least helpful to the sisterhood – often the most hotly contested category). There is also a trophy for boys behaving better (The Good Ernie) and a trophy for a habitual offender, ‘The Trump’. 

The Margaret Jones Award is named in honour of women’s rights advocate, the late Margaret Jones, who died last year aged 91, and was the biggest contributor of nominations to the Ernie Awards, earning her the title of “Queen of the Ernies”.

The Winners

Political Silver Ernie

Senator Malcolm Roberts, on the family law system.

“But when you’re a father, and you can’t get access to your kids, and you can’t get access to the legal system properly, what else is there to do other than check out or hurt the other person?”

Celebrity/Clerical Silver Ernie (dead heat)

Council of the Order of Australia for awarding Bettina Arndt an AM forsignificant service to the community as a social commentator and to gender equity through advocacy for men”.

Shore schoolboys for their ‘Triwizard Shorenament’ challenging students to have sex with a woman over 80kg; aged over 40; or who is deemed to be a ‘3/10 or lower’.

Sport Silver Ernie (The Warney) 

Israel Folau who claimed “Bushfires crippling Australia are God’s punishment for legalising abortion and same sex marriage’”.

Judicial Silver Ernie

Qld Det Insp Mark Thompson says police are “keeping an open mind” about the murder of Hannah Clarke and her three children after they were set alight by her estranged husband.

“Is it an instance of a husband being driven too far by issues he’s suffered by certain circumstances into committing acts of this form?”

Industrial Silver Ernie (and Gold Ernie)

Jayson Westbury CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents objecting to Tracey Grimshaw’s reporting of a travel industry refund scandal.

“She needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face”.

Media Silver Ernie

Michael Leunig for his cartoon and poem entitled ‘Mummy Was Busy’

“Mummy was busy on Instagram. When beautiful bubby fell out of the pram. And lay on the path unseen and alone.  Wishing that he was loved like a phone.”

The Elaine for remarks least helpful to the Sisterhood (dead heat)

Bettina Arndt on the murder of Hannah Clarke and her children.

“Congratulations to the Queensland police for keeping an open mind and awaiting proper evidence, including the possibility that Rowan Baxter might have been ‘driven too far’.”

Pauline Hanson, deputy chair of the Family Court Enquiry, on women fabricating stories of domestic violence.

“A lot of the women out there abuse the system by instigating false DVOs against their former partners or their husbands. They use that to further their needs … Domestic violence orders have got completely out of hand”.

The Good Ernie for boys behaving better

Actor Sam Neill. “I actually think it would be better if men just shut up for a while … Resist the urge to shout over the top of women. Stop being boofheads. And bullies … And when someone says ‘You’re not the boss of me’ you better believe it. You’re just a guy that messes up the house or the office.”

 The Trump (for repeat offender)

Mark Latham

The Margaret Jones Cup (dead heat) 

Prue Brown and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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