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".
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.
— Daniela Ritorto (@danielaritorto) May 8, 2017
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."
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".
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."
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.
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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