A Melbourne real estate agent has been sacked for a supposedly ‘racist’ comment he posted online, sparking outcry from the public which believes his post was not bigoted at all.
Matthew Scafidi has been permanently stood down from his position as franchisee director of real estate agency Jellis Craig in the eastern suburb of Mitcham.
The self-confessed ‘home gym enthusiast’ questioned the origin of some workout equipment in a post to his personal Facebook page on Monday.
‘No Australia Made logo on this one, can I assume on this and price that it’s a Chinese import? Wanting to avoid Chinese imports if I can,’ he asked.
Matthew Scafidi (pictured) has been permanently stood down from his position as franchisee director of real estate agency Jellis Craig in the inner-city suburb of Mitcham
The real estate expert said he wanted to avoid Chinese made products if he could, in relation to a piece of home gym equipment (pictured, the agent’s Facebook post)
The since-deleted post quickly caused a stir on social media with other Facebook users claiming Mr Scafidi’s sentiments were ‘racist’.
But others said there was nothing wrong in wanting to support Australian manufacturers ahead of foreign made products, including China.
One woman re-uploaded a screenshot of the offending post and claimed the real estate agent was making the following points:
‘1. Chinese imports are cheap and shoddy and 2. People with Chinese origins are not part of Australian community,’ she wrote.
‘It is disturbing to see this comment from an individual like Matthew who runs business in Mitcham where the three largest ancestries in 2016 were English, Australian and Chinese.’
Several activists who took offence at the post expressed their grievances in the Google reviews for Jellis Craig.
Mr Scafidi’s profile no longer exists on the Jellis Craig website despite the link still existing in the real estate agent’s Instagram biography (pictured, Matthew Scafidi)
Mr Scafidi’s (right) comment quickly sparked outrage on Facebook and the wider community
The real estate agency consequently has a Google rating of 1.2 out of five stars.
‘What he did was unprofessional,’ one user wrote.
‘Matthew Scafidi, since you don’t want any Chinese products, why don’t you avoid any Chinese clients,’ another commented.
Mr Scafidi’s profile no longer exists on the Jellis Craig website and the agent’s Instagram account appears to have been deleted.
His profile on Realestate.com.au has likewise been deleted.
Several members of the wider community also took offence to the ‘racist’ post and expressed their grievances in google reviews for Jellis Craig (pictured)
A social media user superimposed a photo of Mr Scafadi on top of the original post (pictured)
A source with inside knowledge of the real estate industry in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs questioned the motivation behind the decision to sack Mr Scafidi.
‘Would there be an outcry if you took out the word Chinese and inserted American? It appears to me that all he’s saying is he’d rather buy Australian.’
Jellis Craig chief executive Nick Dowling said the Facebook post was ‘completely unacceptable’.
‘The comment is appalling, it’s unacceptable and it goes completely against the grain of what Jellis Craig is,’ the chief executive told the Herald Sun.
Mr Dowling confirmed Mr Scafidi had been stood down and said he had offered his support to any Jellis Craig staff members who felt aggrieved by the post.
Mr Scafidi has been a highly regarded member of the community in the area for more than a decade where he has built a small real estate empire.
In 2017, he was awarded the Real Estate Institute Of Victoria Residential Salesperson Of The Year.
Mr Scafidi (pictured) has given thousands of dollars to local community projects including Mitcham’s football and cricket clubs
While Mr Scafidi’s reluctance to buy a Chinese product ahead of an Australian one has prompted a remarkable reaction by his former employer, China itself has had no hesitation in boycotting Australian products.
Australian exporters of coal, wine and barley have been hit hard by a Chinese trade war against products from Down Under, brought about by Beijing’s anger that Australia wanted an independent inquiry into the source of the Covid virus.
Mr Scafidi has given thousands of dollars to local community projects including Mitcham’s football and cricket clubs.
With the help of his wife Tanya, the couple, who have a daughter and two dogs, run four businesses — two real-estate sales firms, a rentals firm and a home-styling business — and employ almost 70 staff.
Mr Scafidi, who has appeared in various articles and online interviews discussing his business ventures, had poured his money into the businesses, rather than residential property.
It is understood Mr Scafidi has sought legal advice over his sudden dismissal.
On Wednesday, he refused to comment when contacted by Daily Mail Australia.