CANBERRA -- Labor leader Bill Shorten has said an "all-white" vision of Australia in his new "Australia first" ad campaign was an oversight, conceding more diversity was needed but rubbishing claims the ad was racist.
Bill Shorten tweeted on Monday that the lack of diversity in the ad which first aired on Channel Nine on Sunday night, is a "fair cop" and a "bad oversight that won't happen again".
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.— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 8, 2017
There's been a social media backlash to the protectionist "Australian first" advertisement which is now not expected to be seen again.
There has also been internal party complaints, with Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese describing the as a "shocker" that should never have been produced or shown.
It is an extremely white group of Australians shown surrounding Shorten as he declares a "Shorten Labor Government will build Australian first, buy Australian first and employ Australians first".
Assistant Multicultural Affairs Minister Zed Seselja has described that ad as "offensive" and said he suspects the lack of diversity was deliberate.
"This is an ad which says the Labor Party values white jobs in Australia and it's harking back to the ALP's White Australia policy of many decades ago," he told Sky News.
"Unfortunately, this is something Bill Shorten has form in. He has often appealed to xenophobia in making his pitch."
Employ "Australians" First - Good to see ALP advertising reflecting the rich tapestry that is Australia pic.twitter.com/C8h1CsOS2r— Stephen Murray (@smurray38) May 7, 2017
Shorten is making no apologies for the ad's main message, or the ad itself.
Asked specifically by reporters in Canberra how he responded to any claim the ad was racist, Shorten responded: "It is rubbish".
A few people have asked if the Shorten "Australians first" images are real. Watch the end of this https://t.co/Fn3QONT5no— Rob Stott (@Rob_Stott) May 7, 2017
He then tried to step away from the ad he appeared in.
"I am not in the business of making ads," he said. "We have too many rorts in the visa system."
"Australians first": People think Bill Shorten's new ad full of white people is kinda racist https://t.co/umrmvAFytf— Junkee (@junkeedotcom) May 8, 2017
However the Opposition Leader will be having a word to the people who made and approved the ad.
"I had a look in the final product and I think we need more diversity and I will speak to the Labor Party about that," Shorten said.
The ad had been created to be shown in marginal electorates -- the very electorates which are often quite diverse.
Yeah exactly. The idea that a dumb "Australians first" message would be better if the ad had a few brown people is stupid. https://t.co/joHQC7nYk1— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) May 8, 2017
But while this version of "Australia First" might hit the bin and better casting may be called, a larger question remains about the protectionist policies that the major parties are pursuing.
"America First" has worked in the United States for Donald Trump and any use here of "Australia First" has been claimed by Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party.
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