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Remove offensive Wicked Campers slogans and legislate to allow fines for breaching advertising codes

We have the right to choose what we and our kids see on TV, movies, books, magazines, video games, etc., and there are standards that govern these areas, including outdoor advertising, but those rights are taken away when Wicked Campers continually ignore demands by the Advertising Standards Bureau to remove offensive slogans and images from their vans that are in breach of their Code of Ethics.  If anything, they are getting worse. 

The ASB has no powers of enforcement and a self-regulatory system does not work in this case as the company owns the vans that the images and slogans are displayed on. Legislative loopholes at local and state government levels mean authorities are unable to act.

Please sign and share this petition asking the Qld Government and/or Brisbane City Council to: 

1) follow through on recommendations made in the Qld Parliament Health & Community Services Committee Report No. 36 "Inquiry into Sexually Explicit Outdoor Advertising" in January 2014; 

2) introduce legislation to allow the Advertising Standards Bureau to impose fines for breaches of advertising codes when operators refuse to comply with directives to remove offensive signage;

3) strengthen Queensland's public indecency laws and introduce Council signage bylaws to cover discriminatory, objectionable, threatening, insulting, sexually explicit, lewd or otherwise offensive slogans and images in breach of accepted community standards, where these are displayed in public places including on privately owned vehicles or property, along the lines of laws already in existence in many other councils, states, and countries throughout the world.  This would mean that offensive Wicked Campers vans would be in breach of Council bylaws as soon as they hit the streets.

4) amend the Qld Anti-Discrimination Act to add the term "sex" to the existing Part 4 Anti-vilification section, rather than just the current grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity. Wicked Campers particularly target women in an extremely disturbing way.

Hopefully this will also encourage other States and Councils throughout Australia to look at introducing similar legislation too.

BACKGROUND: My young son and I spotted the Wicked Campers van in this photo, prominently displaying the "F" word, in October 2014 when it was parked for hours outside a church in the middle of a popular Brisbane cafe strip in full view of diners, as well as hundreds of parents and kids coming home from the school in the same street.

My complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau was upheld as breaching advertising codes and accepted community standards - but as usual, John Webb, owner of Wicked Campers, ignored this finding, as he has with most other ASB directives since 2008, and the ASB has no enforcement powers. 

The Qld Police and Brisbane City Council say they have no powers to act under current laws, so Wicked Campers keep operating with impunity, parading their mobile offensive billboards around the country.  

There are many other examples that have been sent in from all over Australia and New Zealand in this link - http://questionsforus.com/2015/01/16/literally-wicked-campers-still-offend/

In January 2014, the Qld Parliament's Health & Community Services Committee looked into the issue of outdoor explicit advertising and the lack of enforcement options available to the ASB for operators that refuse to comply with directives to remove offending outdoor advertisements, particularly where the operators own the vehicles or property on which the advertising appears.

They recommended, among other things, that legislation be introduced to allow fines to be imposed if companies did not comply with ASB findings.  In December 2014, the (then LNP) Qld Attorney-General advised that the government had accepted the Committee's recommendations and was committed to investigating enforcement options.

UPDATE: In early 2015 there was a change of government in Queensland so the process had to start all over again.  This petition has now been updated and all supporting information was sent to my new local member, the Attorney-General, the Premier, the Police Minister and Police Commissioner, and Lord Mayor.

In March 2016, I sent a formal submission to the Attorney-General outlining all the issues and recommendations in more detail and I will be meeting her in early April 2016.

Wicked Campers (and some critics) seem to think that people complaining are just humourless and can't take a joke.  Or that we are trying to trample on freedom of speech.  However, we are not complaining about all their slogans. In fact, in the early days, Wicked Campers' slogans were fun and cheeky and some of them still are, but now they are getting worse and worse and many are just vulgar, sexually explicit, sexist and misogynistic, not to mention racist, degrading, aggressive and threatening.  

We accept that people have every right to view pretty much what they want on private premises. But there are standards that govern even these things (ratings and restrictions, particularly where viewing by children is possible) and act as a guide so we can make informed decisions about whether to view them or not.

What we are objecting to is that these vans are in the public domain and therefore invade our privacy and take away our rights to decide what we and our children are exposed to.

Earlier in 2014, Wicked Campers agreed to remove one particularly vile slogan after a Change.org petition by Paula Orbea (see link above) and even the Senate passed a motion condemning this company.  They undertook to review their vans and clean up their act within six months, but they lied and nothing has changed. If anything, things are getting worse. Instead they invited people to paint over offending vans, but then promptly repainted them and sent them back out. However, now that so many people have taken them up on this challenge, they have changed their tune and recently issued a press release threatening legal action against people caught doing this. Seems like hurting their bottom line is the only thing that gets their attention.  

Interestingly, the more offensive vans are not featured on the company's website, nor are they used in overseas places where Wicked Campers operate, as presumably there are adequate laws in place in those countries. Many customers who know the brand from experiences overseas and/or who book through the website are quite appalled when they turn up and are offered a van covered in offensive material. Yet Wicked Campers apparently give customers no option of an alternative vehicle or a refund if they refuse to take it. Some customers have resorted to covering them with duct tape or cardboard. It is possible that some other overseas backpackers perhaps don't have sufficient command of the English language to initially realise the offensive nature of what they are driving around in.  

A small bit of good news: In April 2015, Lonely Planet announced that they have dropped Wicked Campers from their travel guides in Australia and New Zealand.  This was in response to a number of people emailing them with links like the one above with pictures of various offensive vans and asking them why Wicked Campers were featured in their travel guides. You can read more about it here  http://melindatankardreist.com/2015/04/lonely-planet-removes-wicked-campers-from-travel-guide/  

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION: 

* Sign and share this petition

*  Lobbying is happening throughout Australia to push for legislative changes so action can finally be taken against this company.  Write your own letter to your local member or the Queensland Attorney-General, Hon. Yvette D’Ath, GPO Box 149, Brisbane Q 4001 or Email: attorney@ministerial.qld.gov.au asking her to introduce legislation allowing the Advertising Standards Bureau to impose fines for breaches of its Code of Ethics; strengthen public indecency laws; and add “sex” to the categories in the Anti-Vilification laws; 

*  Contact the Lord Mayor of the Brisbane City Council - Email: lord.mayor@brisbane.qld.gov.au - this company's worst excesses could be easily stamped out with a simple change to Council Advertising Signage Bylaws making it an offence to display signage that is objectionable, threatening, insulting, sexually explicit, lewd or otherwise offensive. Wicked Campers' head office is in Brisbane so this would mean every offensive van would be in breach as soon as it drove out the gates, penalties could be imposed and if ignored, could be followed up with prosecution.

*  Contact backpacker accommodation places and send them this link so their customers are aware of the true nature of the vans this company offers in this country and the fact that many of them are in breach of the Advertising Standards Bureau Code of Ethics  http://questionsforus.com/2015/01/16/literally-wicked-campers-still-offend/

*  Contact campgrounds and caravan parks, send them a copy of the above link and suggest that, in light of the offence they cause, particularly to women and families, and also because many of them are in breach of Advertising Standards Bureau codes, they should refuse to allow vans to stay in their grounds if displaying offensive material. Ask them to also contact Wicked Campers to tell them that their vans will be refused entry. Wicked Campers, 100 Longlands Street, Woolloongabba QLD 4102  Phone:1800 246 869 Website: www.wickedcampers.com.au

*  Flood social media with #wickedcampers and photos of offending vans - photos can be found in the link above.  This will help warn travellers about the true nature of these vans here, which they may not be aware of if they are just going by what they've seen in other countries or on the website.

*  Write a Google review as these cannot be taken down - Google "Wicked Campers" and before clicking on their link, look on the right hand side and you will be able to write a Google review. Post reviews on other travel sites too. This will help warn travellers.

*  Other sites to check out on Facebook are Paula Orbea's "Boycott Wicked Campers", and Qld group "Wicked Pickets".

This petition was delivered to:
  • Queensland Police Commissioner
    Commissioner Ian Stewart
  • Lord Mayor of Brisbane
    Lord Mayor Graham Quirk
  • Qld Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
    Hon. Yvette D’Ath , MP
  • Queensland Premier
    Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk, MP


Christine King started this petition with a single signature, and now has 6,847 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.