Performer Geoff Morrell becomes acting Equity president until union elections are held in the next six months.
“My time as Equity president has been one of the greatest honours of my life,” he said. “I am so humbled by the opportunities that I’ve had to lead, to give, to learn, to share, to work hard for the interests of my fellow performers and our industry as a whole. But leadership is also about knowing when to go, and as a performer, timing is everything.
“It makes me so proud to know that I am leaving Equity in the best possible shape. In our National Performers Committee we have a vibrant, engaged, intelligent and compassionate board of 32 men and women good and true. In Zoe Angus, we have a director whose inspiration, tenacity, good humour and instinctive simpatico with performers makes her the ideal person to guide this great union into the future. I will miss them all like crazy but it’s time for someone else to step up and make this wonderful position of Equity president their own.”
Federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Christopher Warren, said: “Actors Equity is what it is because of Simon Burke. He has made many personal and professional sacrifices to be a leader and a champion for Australia’s performers over the last decade. He could not have given any more of himself in his capacity as president. On behalf of MEAA and Equity staff, who consider Simon a close personal friend and colleague, I sincerely thank him for all he has done.”
Equity NSW president, Tina Bursill, said: “Simon’s leadership has been brave and tireless and always with the deepest respect for performers. With his grace and voice of reason, obstacles have become gateways and with his warm sense of humour, at times troughs have been highs. A kind and compassionate man who has brought us all together.”
NPC member, Matt Day, said: “In his role as Equity president Simon has not only worked tirelessly to defend the rights of performers but also to strengthen the ties within the creative industries across the board. He understands that we’re all in this together and he will be greatly missed.”
Performer and producer, Claudia Karvan, said: “Simon is a long term, passionate member of our industry and will hopefully be given an order of Australia one day for his contribution to our field as singer, performer, producer and union president. He also made a wonderful Danish husband when we acted together in a film called Passion! Thank you Simon for the generous and hard work you’ve done on our behalf. I wish you a long and illustrious producing career alongside your beautiful performances.”
Performer, Don Hany, said: “Simon’s love for our industry is unparalleled. He has led the way and inspired a generation of performers. I was fortunate enough to have worked with him during efforts to protect the Australian television industry and then again on the first of many television series I hope he will produce.”
Burke most recently starred and co-produced the Devil’s Playground sequel for Foxtel.