Anthony Albanese has declined to buy into commentary about the renaming of famous Australian cheese brand Coon.
The federal Opposition Leader was peppered with questions about the rebadged Cheer cheese during a talkback radio interview on Wednesday morning but refused to entertain any prospect of a reactionary culture war.
The product was originally named after an American cheesemaker, but the name was also a racial slur. Its new name, revealed late on Tuesday, was chosen because it signals happiness, according to its owner, multinational Saputo Dairy.
The rebranded cheese, which has been sold in Australia since the 1930s, will hit supermarket shelves in July.
Mr Albanese said while he did not agree with rewriting history or the controversy surrounding certain statues, he had no objection to the new name.
“Frankly, I think it is a commercial decision by the company and fair enough,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Wednesday.
“Certainly it was named after some American cheesemaker … it certainly isn’t named after any eulogising of a racist term.
“But the good news is the cheese will be the same, it’ll taste the same, and I think everyone will know it’s the same product.”
Mr Albanese said the company was clearly motivated by selling more cheese: “And good luck to them.”
“This is something that will come and go,” he said.
Saputo Dairy said its rebranding followed a review that considered “current attitudes and perspectives” after community objections to the original name, which is also a racial slur.
“Our decision to change the name of Australia’s much-loved cheese reinforces this commitment to build a culture of acceptance, inclusion and respect where everyone feels a sense of belonging,” the global head of Saputo, Lino Supato, said on Wednesday.
Saputo’s Australian commercial director, Cam Bruce, said the rebadged brand would stick with the “same recipe that millions have come to love, and will continue to grow up with”.
“We remain committed to our Australian farmers who continue to produce the high-quality milk that goes into all of our products, including Cheer Cheese,” he said.
Coon cheese was originally named after the American who developed the maturation process, Edward William Coon.