Labor will no longer screen a new television spot that promotes an “Australia first” message after Opposition Leader Bill Shorten came under fire over the ad’s lack of diversity.
A preview of the advertisement, screened on Nine Network News on Sunday night, showed a group of almost exclusively white Australians standing next to Mr Shorten, who lays out Labor’s plans for an “Australians first” economic agenda.
“A Shorten Labor government will build Australian first, buy Australian first and employ Australians first,” the Opposition Leader says in the ad.
Mr Shorten addressed the ad on Monday, saying he would be “speaking to the Labor Party” about the lack of diversity.
Asked about suggestions the ad was racist, he said: “That’s rubbish.”
“I am not in the ad-making business. I make no apology for saying that there has (sic) been 130,000 apprenticeships cut under the Liberals and we have had too many rorts in our 457 visa system,” Mr Shorten said.
“But I certainly think we need to encourage as much diversity as we can, I’ve had a look at the final production and I think we should have had more diversity in it and I’ll be speaking to the Labor Party about that.”
Later, a spokesman for Mr Shorten told The New Daily that the advert had been screened over the weekend and its “run has ended”.
Mr Shorten also strengthened his position on Monday, writing on Twitter: “Some people have pointed out the lack of diversity in the ALP’s video about local jobs. Fair cop. A bad oversight that won’t happen again.”
The only thing whiter than this Labor ad is the SBS Eurovision hosting team pic.twitter.com/Shg1eDiawG
— Stephen Murray (@smurray38) May 7, 2017
If I was told that Labor ad was actually put together by One Nation I would have had every reason to believe it. THAT'S how racist it is
— Good Sir Knight (@BrigadierSlog) May 7, 2017
The advertisement, which Labor planned to screen in marginal electorates, according to the Nine Network, was even slammed by one of its own senior frontbenchers.
Senior shadow minister Anthony Albanese said he thought the ad was a “shocker”.
“It should never have been produced and it should never be shown,” he said.
“It is not the sort of ad that I want my party to be promoting. I think anyone who sees it will know exactly what’s wrong with it.”
Other parties were also quick to slam the advertisement.
“As subtle as a sledgehammer,” Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wrote on Twitter.
“Honestly, what are Labor thinking? This is awful, just awful.”
Minister of Multicultural Affairs Senator Zed Seselja said the ad presented a “view of the world that doesn’t reflect the diversity of Australia” and a throwback to Labor’s white Australia policy from 50 years ago.
“It’s untenable for it to continue,” he told Sky News.
He also claimed that the lack of diversity was “clearly deliberate”.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) May 7, 2017
Both the Opposition Leader and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have ramped up ‘Australia first’ rhetoric since the election of Donald Trump, who was arguably swept to power on a nationalist message.
The Turnbull government recently unveiled changes to the 457 foreign-worker visa system and a toughening of citizenship laws.
The latter sparked a public debate about ‘Australian values’.
Mr Shorten launched an ‘Australians first’ economic message days after President Trump’s election in November last year.