Wicked Campers are notorious for their sexually explicit slogans and imagery, even advocating rape and murder. Ad Standards is powerless to enforce rulings against them, and as a result, Tasmania, ACT and Queensland have passed laws to deregister Wicked campervans that do not abide Ad Standards Rulings.
We are calling on MPs to enact similar legislation in other states, so we have written to the following ministers:
Luke Donnellan, Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Victoria
Michelle Roberts, Minister for Police and Road Safety, Western Australia
Stephan Knoll, Minister for Transport, South Australia
Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, New South Wales
The Hon. Luke Donnellan, MP
Minister for Roads and Road Safety
Level 22 1 Spring Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
We are writing to draw your attention to the passage of legislation in two states and territories preventing the company Wicked Campers from advertising sexist, misogynistic and racist slogans and imagery on their camper vans. It is our hope that you will do what you can to ensure that Victoria follows suit.
For many years, Wicked Campers has attracted widespread criticism for its normalising of violence against women. The vehicles are notorious for their sexually explicit slogans and imagery, some advocating rape and even murder. The company has also been criticised for its anti-gay and racist slogans. Images of these vehicles can be seen at https://www.collectiveshout.org/wicked_campers.
To date, Ad Standards has upheld almost 80 complaints against the company. However, the panel has no powers of enforcement and there are no penalties for non-compliance. As a result, Wicked Campers has ignored all rulings against it. Given the advertising code is voluntary, there is nothing to stop Wicked Campers from promoting content that vilifies women.
In 2015 the company released a sarcastic media release mocking complainants, stating, “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.”
Given Wicked Campers’ refusal to comply with Ad Standards rulings and its ongoing disregard for community attitudes and research demonstrating the harms of objectified portrayals of women (J Sex Res. 2016 May-Jun; 53(4-5):560-77. doi: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1142496. Epub 2016 Mar 15.Media and Sexualization: State of Empirical Research, 1995-2015. Ward LM)) state governments must take urgent action to bring the company into line. Queensland, Tasmania and ACT have all taken legislative measures to force compliance.
In 2016 Queensland passed the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) (Offensive Advertising) Amendment Bill enabling the Department of Transport and Main Roads to cancel a vehicle's registration if the owners did not remove offending slogans within 14 days of an Ad Standards ruling.
Under the Road Transport (Vehicle Registration) Regulation 2000, in the ACT, the Road Transport Authority can refuse the registration of a vehicle in the ACT if it has previously been cancelled and suspended in another jurisdiction. ACT Minister for Justice, Consumer Affairs and Road Safety, Shane Rattenbury, stated that vehicles de-registered on this basis in other states would will not be eligible for registration in the ACT.
Similarly, in 2017 a spokeswoman of the Northern Territory, Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics minister, Nicole Manison, said:
“The Northern Territory’s Motor Vehicles Act allows the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to cancel registration of vehicles which are ‘a source of annoyance to the public’, which likely includes vehicles displaying sexist, discriminatory or otherwise offensive advertising.”
In 2017 Tasmania also took action against sexually explicit and discriminating slogans and imagery featured on Wicked Campers vans in response to complaints about slogans displayed on the rental vehicles.
On behalf of our thousands of supporters, we are asking that you move to implement similar legislation. We note that Victoria has taken a strong stand to address violence against women and commend your state’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. It is our strong view that moving to outlaw sexist and degrading slogans such as those features on Wicked Camper vans would further demonstrate the commitment of your government to addressing sexism in all its manifestations.
Thank you for your urgent consideration. We look forward to your response.
3 October 2018
At the time of publishing these letters, we have not had a response from any of the ministers. You can contact them on Twitter @LukeDonnellan @MelindaPaveyMP @StephanKnoll @MichelleMidland
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