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Thousands rail against van company’s obscene slogans

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One of the many offensive, sexist slogans on a Wicked campervan. Photo Daily Life
One of the many offensive, sexist slogans on a Wicked campervan. Photo Daily Life

Luis Feliu

Thousands of people have joined a group calling for the boycott of Wicked Campers after a Byron Bay man was threatened with prosecution because he sprayed over an obscene slogan on the back of one of the company’s vehicles.

The company’s vans with their lurid spraypainted slogans, some even promoting, if not inciting rape, are popular with young tourists travelling around the northern rivers.

Byron shire grandfather Paul McCarthy told media he had a ‘brain snap’ when he saw the slogan ‘A b..w job a day beats an apple’ on the back of a Wicked Camper vehicle recently and spray-painted over the offending word (blow).

Mr McCarthy took offence and has called on Byron Shire Council to ban the cars and vans. He will appeal to councillors on the issue at their meeting next Thursday, April 7.

And he has the support of thousands of people who say he should be praised, not prosecuted, for his action.

One supporter on social media said  she recently saw a slogan on the back of a van in Byron Bay which read: ‘It’s not rape if you yell surprise’.

Many readers say such vulgar and offensive slogans are not funny at all and Wicked Campers management should be held responsible. (A response has been sought from the company, but at the time of going to press, none was forthcoming).

Yesterday, Paula Orbea told Mr McCarthy that she had more than 3,500 people following her ‘Boycott Wicked Campers’ page which was ‘growing by the day’.

‘Good on you and good luck,’ Ms Orbea told him, adding other campaigners against the company’s use of offensive slogans were set to meet with the Queensland Attorney-General, Yvette D-Ath, over the issue, coincidentally also next Thursday when Mr McCarthy is set to appeal to Byron Council.

Campaigner Christine King plans to give the Attorney-General a petition calling for legislation change.

Mrs King has also written to Byron shire mayor Simon Richardson, urging him to ‘help close a loophole that allows particularly women and children to be exposed to this increasingly offensive garbage’.

I’m powerless to act: mayor

Cr Richardson said that while he sympathised with Mr McCarthy, council had no power to act as it was a Queensland business and that he was ‘assuming the vehicles are roadworthy’.

But Mrs King told Cr Richardson that ‘the issue of roadworthiness is not really the point, however I have already been in contact with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to follow up on this, as their roadworthiness is certainly in doubt’ and urged the NSW transport authorities ‘to conduct their own checks’.

She said there were various ways to tackle the problem ‘such as giving the Advertising Standards Bureau powers to impose fines, strengthening current criminal codes with regard to public indecency/obscenity, and strengthening anti-vilification laws’.

‘The issue has also been raised with the Australian Classification Board,’ Mrs King said.

‘I am currently in discussions with the Brisbane City Council lord mayor and Regulatory Services Department regarding bringing in an amendment to their signage bylaws (similar to those introduced by a number of councils in New Zealand) to deal with offensive content – this would at least cover vans coming out of their head office,’ she said.

‘However, any council can bring in their own bylaws to cover offensive signage and as one of this company’s main depots is in Byron Bay; and as people have been complaining about them for years; and as their content is getting more and more extreme; and as many of them have been found to be in breach of Advertising Standards Bureau’s code of ethics; I would urge you to help close a loophole that allows particularly women and children to be exposed to this increasingly offensive garbage.’

Mrs King provided the mayor with a bylaw which Whangerei District Council in New Zealand had introduced recently which makes it an offence for to display offensive, insulting or objectionable signs.

She also provided him with photographic evidence of the more offensive vans (http://questionsforus.com/2015/01/16/literally-wicked-campers-still-offend/)

‘You may also be interested to know that many campgrounds in NZ, including council owned ones, are starting to ban Wicked Campers altogether after numerous complaints from fellow campers have gone unheeded by the company,’ Mrs King said.

‘The issue is receiving wide media coverage at the moment in NZ and Australia, including a lengthy panel discussion this morning on Radio National. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lifematters/why-can’t-we-protect-children-against-offensive-public-images/7286840

‘A summary of the work I have been doing so far can be found on this link: https://www.change.org/p/qld-attorney-general-remove-wicked-campers-offensive-slogans-and-legislate-to-allow-fines-for-breaching-advertising-signage-codes.

‘I would very much appreciate it if you could table this letter at your next council meeting on 7 April and I look forward to hearing back from you in the near future.’

In a letter to the Brisbane Lord Mayor, Mrs King said that ‘you may not be aware that many of the backpackers who hire these vans are quite appalled when they arrive to see what is plastered on them, as these really offensive ones are not featured on the company’s website and are not used in by their overseas offices in places where the laws are stronger’.

‘There are many comments on social media from overseas tourists questioning how on earth Australia can allow such things to be used in public,’ she wrote.

‘Imagine the tourism damage these vans are causing, not to mention ruining many people’s enjoyment of our campgrounds when families find themselves camped beside, for instance, Lego figures having sex, or a cartoon chicken and egg having anal sex – most drawn in such a way as to attract the attention of children.’

In a recent article in www.dailylife.com.au headed ‘Why women should boycott Wicked Campervans’, author Clem Bastow railed against the company’s racist slogans and ‘rampant mysogyny’.

‘In some ways, there’s likely no point in making a complaint the next time you see a braindead sexist Wicked slogan in your rearview mirror,’ Ms Bastow wrote.

‘Instead, vote with your wallet: go to another hire company, because cheap rates or not, supporting a company that degrades women just so a few dropkicks can have a laugh with their tinnies on a camping trip isn’t worth saving a few measly dollars.’

New penalties for offensive slogans, images

Sexist and offensive slogans on vehicles, such as Wicked Campers, have now been outlawed after the Road Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 was adopted by parliament on October 21. Local MP Tamara Smith (Greens) said it was a ‘great win’,...


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Camper slogans incite hatred of women: MP

Byron and Ballina shire councils are set to tell the federal and state governments they’ve had enough of the vile slogans spray-painted on Wicked Campers.


Council ‘powerless to act’ on offensive slogans

Byron Shire Council says taking action on offensive slogans, such as the ones on Wicked camper vans that recently have drawn public ire, is the role of police.


Thousands rail against van company’s obscene slogans

Thousands of people have joined a group calling for the boycott of Wicked Campers after a Byron Bay man was threatened with prosecution because he sprayed over an obscene slogan on the back of one of the company's vehicles.


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  1. Personally, I find banning free speech is always contentious. What one person finds offensive is okay to another. Often the most offensive material may be political and banning that kind of speech is a slippery slope. It is also interesting for me as I get older to wonder what young people need to do to make me uncomfortable. My generation did it with long hair. Youth always needs to rebel.

    I also remember a time when Byron was home to a more ‘feral’ type of visitor. Personally, I liked them and thought they added character vs the flash packers who travel for 3 or 4 weeks and consider themselves ‘travelers’. Our wonderful local police decided they needed to clean up the town and they turned their attention to ferals stopping them to harass for all sorts of minor issues. They quickly got the point that Byron was no longer an easy going place to visit and they stopped coming leaving more space for Qld holiday makers (barf).

    But in the end of the day, I would assume that if I arrived to pick up my van and it had something written on it that offended and embarrassed me I would demand another vehicle. So these people either think its cool or they are too weak to stand up for themselves. Either way, the community can make it well known that they think they’re dumb arses for driving around in them. Sure camp grounds could deny them service but really business people value dollars more than principals so that’s pretty unlikely.

    So yeah, if i needed to get out there and do something to everyone who offended me in some way… well you know how that would go.

    • There have been tourists in Australia and NZ who have not known what they were renting before they got to Australia. In Australian law, they were mislead. When they arrived here, some have demanded a substitute vehicle, and none was available. I’d be interested to hear what you think they ought to have done then? Walked out of the dealership with no transport in a foreign country? Also, some of the visitors have not mastered English to a level to understand why this is so offensive.

      The ASB have ruled against these cowards. They have ignored the ASB. I can’t see how a “slippery slope” argument holds when your subject material is in the gutter.

      • Have you ever had to explain what one of these disgusting slogans means to a 6 or 8 year old child in the car traveling behind one of these vans? As a parent, I filter what TV, media etc my children are exposed to so that it is age appropriate for them. We just don’t need this level of disgusting in our society. There’s enough already.

  2. Dear mayor. Does it boil down to either a question of decency or a matter of opinion, as to whether vehicles that portray slogans that demean, abuse and objectify at least 50 % (if not 99%) of the population are roadworthy ….?

  3. Wicked Campers are long time recidivist offenders who don’t give a hoot and retaliate in nasty ways against those campaigning against them. I really think we should take direct action and spray paint over the offending slogans like Paul Mc Carthy in the story. I may start packing a can in my car in case. If their vans keep coming back damaged like this they may realize its not worth the effort.

  4. As a father and grandfather l’m often astounded by the overt misogyny displayed on these vehicles. The subject matter and vocabulary wouldn’t be allowed on television before 8pm and there would be a suitable rating listed, yet it seems like its fine to park one of these vehicles outside a primary school at any time of the day. What really astounds me is that there are so many young, apparently educated, Europeans who willingly support this company and their moronic world view. Good on you Paul!

  5. Advertising standards have already taken them on and won, but apparently they haven’t bothered to actually follow up to ensure that they have changed their offensive slogans. It’s disgusting seeing them drive around our town we should all be spray painting over them maybe then they’d get the message on just how much we hate seeing this abuse.

    • Actually the ASB have no powers of enforcement. Powers of enforcement would solve this problem and a myriad of other issues where the ASB has made rulings against offensive slogans and been ignored.

  6. hi
    over here in nz we have the same problem with these camper vans but the govt is moving in on them , lots of camping grounds have banned and the dept. of conservation who control a lot of freedom camping areas are also moving on banning them…kiwis dislike them even more ‘cos they’re an OZ company coming here and pissing everyone off..the owner just laughs when appraoched for comment..

  7. This is misogyny at it’s worst. If the slogans were racist they would rightly be banned. So why are women still ‘fair game’ for hatred, ridicule, abuse and violence.
    It is Wicked Campers who should be in court not Mr McCarthy.

  8. Giving this story air is buying more publicity than the company could afford. Making them change would give another round of publicity. As they are for a tourist market, the renters of this van are not visiting for the local morality. They are perhaps attracted by the notoriety without any responsibility. The council makes so many market decisions in regard to supporting the tourist industry, it must have an economic advantage to see where the line should be drawn. I do not think these vans threaten the morality of the town neither would denying them. Like with so many things in Byron – Look the other way.

  9. I feel that they have gone too far. I remember that they said sometime in the recent past that if you don’t like what they say then it was ok to go over them with a new design, if the first offended you.
    Therefor this charge against the man who stood up for the changes that where needed to that van should not be held accountable! I do not like my teenage sons seeing these vans or thinking that what they say is in anyway acceptable! Never. Keep the spray paint at hand people to assist this company with their remodelling..
    As they don’t seem to be doing themselves! And they don’t seem to be listening.. Don’t give them the plead free advertising with our concerns! Just do the right thing and adjust the slogans as needed. They said it was ok last year!!

  10. You think the vans and the owners’ attitude are offensive – you should see the way his sons turned out!

    The sins of the parents balloon in the children they bear

  11. If the slogans on these vans vilified homosexuals, the outrage would be heard to all ends of the earth…women and children are not quite so important it would seem.

  12. I totally get what people are saying here but spraying the slogans is not the answer.
    What will happen is that the no doubt innocent person who hired the van (and maybe they had paid in advance online etc and so can’t refuse the van with an offensive slogan) – they will be charged for the damage and lose their insurance excess.
    So really all that will be achieved is that the company will pocket their insurance excess of, say, $600 and then repaint the slogan for $20.
    So please find another way. Spraying the slogans will only benefit the company.

    • If you think the people hiring the van will have to pay for a third party spray painting or damaging the van in any way then you have no concept of how the law works.

  13. I thought that the Wicked Campers GM committed to removing all offensive slogans within six months back in 2014, after the “Inside every little princess…..” fiasco.

    Interestingly, especially so for Paul McCarthy, Wicked are on record saying that they have no problem with people painting over offensive slogans. This was in response to a motion put forward in the Queensland senate condemning concerning:

    ‘the litany of sexist, misogynistic, and racist slogans which have been used by Wicked Campers on their hire vans’.

    It further calls on Wicked Campers ‘to remove slogans which are sexist, misogynistic, or racist from their vans.’


    You would think that it would be pretty simple to enforce that, but apparently not. I like the older Wicked vans that had amusing counter-culture and anti-establishment slogans, you would think it would be quite easy to return to those without hurting their brand.

  14. Couldn’t Council could pass a local legislation allowing on the spot fines for drivers displaying sexist, racist, misogynistic or offensive slogans on vehicles in byron shire?
    Make the drivers pay. It will stop real quick.


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