Wicked Campers' Aussie crackdown

By Kim Stephens

Wicked Camper van 'A man would be interested in a womans mind if it bounced gently as she walked'.
Wicked Camper van 'A man would be interested in a womans mind if it bounced gently as she walked'.

For eight years, the operators of Wicked Campers, amid revulsion-fuelled protests at their offensive van artwork, have been free to continue their spray-painting misogyny without fear of repercussion.

But, in Queensland, at least, that is no more - and at least two other Australian states have flagged they may follow the Sunshine State's lead.

The end of the road could finally be nigh for the vans invariably described as "vile" and "appalling".

On Tuesday, a bill to enact legislation that will deregister vans emblazoned with offensive slogans received bipartisan support in the Queensland Parliament.

They will now be illegal on the state's roads.

The vans and their slogans have long represented a quandary for governments.

Until Tuesday, there was no legal framework under which the company could be forced to remove the slogans.

The Advertising Standards Bureau could request they be removed but the body is largely a toothless tiger.

So, without any threat of enforcement or consequences for ignoring the order, Wicked Campers has long been free to ignore them.

Under the new Queensland laws, however, if the ASB deems a van's slogan offensive and the company does not act to remove it within two weeks, the van's registration will be cancelled in Queensland.

And while supporters of the company have repeatedly said the way around such a move would simply be to register them in another state, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said it was hoped other premiers would follow Annastacia Palaszczuk's lead.

"Many people across the community have been concerned for some time about the derogatory, sexist and outright offensive slogans and cartoons on the side of some commercial Queensland vehicles," she said.

"The Palaszczuk Government is leading the country in taking action on this issue and we're working closely with other states and territories to promote a nationally consistent approach to vehicle registration laws on this issue."

Many camping grounds and businesses across the country have banned the vans in the past, however, Queensland is the first government to act on them.

Late last year, Victorian Minister for Women Fiona Richardson flagged the State Government would also crack down on the vans, whose cheap rental rates make them popular with backpackers.

"Advertisements that vilify and demean women have no place in Victoria," she told Fairfax Media, adding that all sexist advertising in the state would be targeted as part of a gender equality strategy.

Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding also told that state's parliament his party would introduce legislation this year to get the campers, and any vehicles that display offensive slogans, off Tasmanian roads.

He described the slogans on the campers were an "assault on families, women and girls".
Wicked Campers, which started in a Brisbane garage about eight years ago before expanding to six other countries, has remained largely silent on the widespread revulsion at their vans elicit throughout repeated controversies.

Online, however, many supporters of the company have voiced their opposition to the latest development, with one reddit discussion thread labelling the vans, "too naughty for the pure, delicate citizens of Queensland".

Despite the support, overwhelmingly, the reaction to the controversial vans has been one of protest.

Two years ago, Sydney mother Paula Orbea petitioned the company founder, John Webb, to, "Eliminate misogynistic and degrading slogans and imagery", after her 11-year-old daughter questioned the meaning of one van's slogan, which read, "In every princess, there's a little slut who wants to try it just once".

Nearly 130,000 people signed it.

The company apologised and committed to reviewing its slogans, however, the commitment was short-lived.

Tasmania's Bruny Island Cheese Company banned them from entering their carpark last year, while New South Wales' Blue Mountains Council banned them from all council-owned tourist parks late last year.

- news.com.au

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