WA Tourism drops George Calombaris ads

WA Tourism is pulling advertisements fronted by MasterChef judge George Calombaris.

It follows revelations last week his MAdE Establishment restaurants underpaid staff by $7.8m.

The WA government is ceasing all social media advertising and cancelling advertisements associated with MasterChef Australia. Originally due to run until the end of September, they depict Calombaris spruiking gourmet travel and festivals in the West.

The MasterChef judge continues to be dogged by headlines and social media criticism ahead of the show’s grand final tomorrow, including with calls for 10 to drop him from further involvement.

10 so far is backing its judge of 11 seasons, on Thursday saying, “George and MAdE Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10.

“We will not be making any further comment.”


  1. thedirtydigger

    Personally I don’t accept the ” I know nuffink” excuses being put forward here on George’s behalf by his sympathisers.
    A fish rots from the head.

    • harrypotter1994

      George was a big drawcard for an upcoming WA Food expo so he became the ‘face’ for this years campaign.

      At the end of the day WA Tourism want to bring people to the state. That’s why Manchester United played those two games in Perth.

  2. Years ago, I was at an information session run by a workplace Govt department (can’t recall if it was state or fed) regarding awards and rates of pay. The take-away was that it was a minefield where the specific applicable award to an employee was dependent on age, duties (even differences between duties could mean that 2 employees doing similar but not identical duties might come under different awards), and the employment start date which could mean a different version of the award might apply.
    It would be interesting to know where Fair Work adjudicated blame for the underpayments if they did. Just because George is the figurehead of the company doesn’t mean he is responsible for the underpayments. Many companies have come a cropper due to poor practices by others in the company acting without the knowledge of the owner/board/directors/etc.

  3. I was in a position a few years ago where myself and everyone else in my department were overpaid by approx $2,000 over a three month period. Management decided to let us keep the extra funds, though we were constantly reminded how generous they had been.

  4. I understand a lot of this stems from not getting correct overtime penalties. I think it’s worthy of debate to consider how this compares to other industries or settings before writing George, or anyone else, off. When I was fresh out of uni, co-workers and I frequently worked 70 hr weeks, and sometimes working till 3 or 4 in the morning (from an 8-9am start) in the last week of a project. We used to joke about the low wage when worked out on a per hourly basis. Although our contract said 40 hrs per week, it did say you had to work the overtime as required. But everyone knew this was part of the gig, and that you would be rewarded with a promotion (and perhaps slightly less grueling hours) if you decided to stick around. However, the experience was priceless – a bit like working for a top chef, I would have thought. Perhaps the difference here is that the staff affected were purely…

  5. George is a chef not an accountant.He is the head of the company but can’t cook and do accounts as well.When it came to light he admitted they had a problem and did something about it.Last night on the project a chef who worked at rock pool was treated like a slave even though he notified the ones in charge and still it went on.
    In my opinion George is just another one to suffer the tall poppy syndrome here in australia.As for leaving master chef that is just ridiculous.

    • Agree with you completely. I also get that as the boss of the company, he is liable whether directly responsible or not (and I am ready to believe he was not) but that culpability does not mean he is bad for MasterChef. The show has a delicate balance that has made it stand out for all the right reasons over a terrific 11 year run and I fear any tampering with that would be a volatile mistake for its future.

  6. italianguy1987

    Firstly, do we know if it was directly George who underpaid his employees? Perhaps it was someone in payroll who did and George being the face of these restaurants now gets the blame. i’m sure George wasn’t personally entering pay details into a computer and pressing send but then again who is Maria or Mary or Susie from payroll anyways to the public. Blaming George makes bigger headlines

  7. thedirtydigger

    I’m sorry to question the undoubted brilliance of Tourism WA, but haven’t these charges against George’s company been under investigation for some time ?
    Was there always a chance things may not “work out” for Gorgeous George when the findings were released ?
    Did not some bright spark at WA Tourism question the suitability of using him some prominently in their marketing campaigns ?
    And how about the TV geniuses at Shine/Endemol ? Same question ….
    The Smartest Guys In The Room strike once again.
    As for the ” all out ” pact between the judges, let’s just see how that plays out in reality …

  8. A single foolish remark is enough to end most high-profile people’s careers these days, yet when somebody who is quite well off (and evidently very well-fed both on and off-camera) deprives hundreds of people of their livelihood, to the sum of around $8 million in fact, it’s a transgression that the masses seem willing to turn a blind eye to.

    My compassion extends to the hundreds of underpaid employees, many of whom I’m sure are barely making ends meet while a certain someone without a conscience hadn’t even spared them a thought until his misdeeds caught up with him. Absolutely disgraceful.

    • Yet we keep letting Eddie McGuire have prominent roles across two networks with all the insensitive “gaffs” he has made over the years. I feel George may cop this pretty hard, unduly in my opinion too.

  9. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, surely his position for future series of MasterChef is bordering on untenable by now? That said, I think I’ve read in the past (maybe even on this site, I can’t recall) that the three MC judges have a ‘one out – all out’ pact in relation to the show….

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