Queensland takes action on Wicked Campers

By Kirrily Schwarz

Wicked Campers' sexist slogans have caused offence on both sides of the Tasman.
Wicked Campers' sexist slogans have caused offence on both sides of the Tasman.

WARNING: Obscene language

"Life sucks if your girlfriend doesn't."

Let's face it: on the scale of one to offensive, this statement is hardly the worst we've seen - at least when it comes to the catchphrases emblazoned on the sides of Wicked Campers, which are popular with backpackers travelling around Australia and New Zealand.

This week, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is introducing legislation revoking the registration of commercial operators who refuse to remove offensive slogans from their vehicles.

It could mark the beginning of the end for the controversial artwork, which has caused plenty of headlines over the past few years.

Wicked Campers have been banned from several Kiwi campgrounds.
Wicked Campers have been banned from several Kiwi campgrounds.

Some politicians, notably Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, have defended the misogynistic slogans in the past, passing them off as "funny".

Strangely enough, as a highly-educated, highly-successful woman, Ms Palaszczuk isn't so amused by comments that actively degrade women. For example:

"Drink till she's pretty!"

"Anything's a dildo if you're brave enough."

"A wife: an attachment you screw on the bed to get the housework done."

"Your thighs won't touch if my head's between them."

"Don't die a virgin! Terrorists are up there waiting for you."

"I can already imagine the gaffa tape on your mouth."

Oh, and did we mention women get a discount if they show up naked?

Ms Palaszczuk said: "With this legislation, vehicles registered in Queensland that display sexist, obscene or otherwise offensive advertising will face the prospect of having their registration cancelled.

"I am pleased that this important initiative is now one step closer to becoming enforceable."

Queensland Main Roads Minister Mark Baily added: "Targeting these sexist, misogynistic and inappropriate slogans through registration cancellation has been an innovative solution.

"Queensland is leading the way in this space and we're working closely with other states and territories to promote a nationally consistent approach to vehicle registration laws on this issue."


The company agreed to clean up the sexist and misogynistic slogans in 2014, after a Sydney schoolteacher got more than 110,000 signatures on a Change.org petition.

Paula Orbea started the campaign after her 11-year-old daughter saw a slogan in the Blue Mountains that said: "In every princess there is a little slut who wants to try it just once."

Although the company's owner issued a personal apology, at the time, it wasn't enough. Some took into their own hands, spray-painting over the vile statements.

Artist Stef Burgeon and her boyfriend hired a van that bore the slogan: "A vagina is like the weather - once it's wet, it's time to go inside". They changed it to: "If ya wouldn't say it to ya nan ... don't write it on ya van!"


The outcry evidently fell on deaf ears, because the company has publicly mocked complaints about the fleet of vans.

"To meet the commitments made in our prior press release, we employed a team of highly-intelligent, socially-conscious super monkeys to closely monitor the subject matter featured on our vehicles and scream loudly when offended," spokesman John Webb said in 2015.

"This initiative had been codenamed 'Moral Monkey Squad' under a carefully constructed mission statement: 'Moral Monkey Squad are dedicated to satisfying the whims and wishes of the humour-inept, self-righteous moral majority while wearing little monkey tuxedos and funny hats'."

Some renters have censored the slogans themselves.
Some renters have censored the slogans themselves.

Earlier this year, the vans were banned from music festival Splendour in the Grass.

"If you're booking a campervan, please steer clear of sexist slogans! You know who you are. It's 2016, get with the program," the event website said.

Wicked Campers has also caused controversy in New Zealand. In April, three slogans were ruled R16 by the Chief Censor and are now "objectionable publications".

Associate Minister of Tourism Paula Bennett lead a campaign against the vans and said slogans which promoted drug use and sexual violence "totally overstep the mark".

Queenstown's council also hit out against the vans, threatening the company with a $300 fine if their vehicles displaying offensive slogans were seen in Queenstown.

The campervans were also banned from several campgrounds around the country.

- news.com.au

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