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Category: Law, Crime and Justice / Tourism / Lifestyle and Leisure / Travel and Tourism

How will the law against offensive Wicked Campers signs work?

09:40 UTC+8 April 7, 2017 | Aneeta Bhole

Tasmania has become the latest state to take action against sexually explicit, discriminating and offensive signs such as those featured on Wicked Campers vans, but how will the state law work?

New legislation was passed in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday in response to complaints about slogans displayed on rental vehicles.

While Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said he was "very pleased" with the new law, others are concerned it may not be effective.

So how does the new law work?

If you are offended by material on a rental van you can register your complaint on the Advertising Standard Bureau (ASB) website.

If a company does not remove the material, the state's Registrar of Motor Vehicles can cancel its registration.

"Some of the offensive slogans on these vans are completely unacceptable and offensive and clearly promote negative attitudes to women," Mr Hidding said.

"This is strong action and sends the appropriate message to Wicked Campers, or any other company who believes they can display disgusting signage on our roads: it will not be tolerated in Tasmania."

ASB chief executive Fiona Jolly said members of the public who wanted to complain needed to provide a picture of the vehicle, preferably with number plates visible.

"If a company is happy to work with the advertising standards bureau to remove the offensive material this can all happen within three to four weeks," she said.

"If a company declines to comply, then generally the ads standards bureau can't do anything, which is where the legislation comes into play allowing the Government to deregister the vehicle."

Here's the catch

The Tasmanian legislation only applies to vehicles registered in the state.

While Legislative Councillor Rob Valentine supported the new bill, he said he was concerned it might not work.

"How is this necessarily going to stop the offensive phrases on vehicles if indeed they register them on the mainland?" he asked.

"I think as a society we have certain standards. It's not like these vehicles are artwork behind closed doors where you can choose to go in or not."

Ms Jolly said the new legislation was not different to the existing complaints system, except for the Government's ability to cancel vehicle registration.

Decisions on deregistering will be based on advice from the ASB, a process that may take up to three months.

Discussion between the Tasmanian Government and other jurisdictions is expected to lead to mutual arrangements to deal with operators trying to avoid deregistration.

Who else is on board?

In February, Queensland became the first jurisdiction to allow a government department to take this action, while the ACT and Northern Territory also recognise it.

The ASB dealt with 19 complaints against Wicked Campers nationally last year, all of which were upheld.

In the four years to 2016, there were 140 complaints.

Other people have started social media campaigns in direct protest against Wicked Campers, with members decrying the slogans are "disgusting" and "offensive".

One of those groups, Wicked Pickets, welcomed the Tasmanian legislation.

In February, the group's organiser Anna McCormack said the Queensland legislation was also a step in the right direction.

"At the moment in Queensland, it's unlawful to vilify on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality or gender identity … but it's not unlawful to vilify on the grounds of sex, which means women and girls are still fair game," she said.

"We're happy that they've seen the Wicked campervan slogans as inappropriate and the dangers of those slogans in promoting rape culture.

"A lot of misogynist advertising is much subtler, but these ones are so very obvious that people from a whole range of groups were outraged by them."

The ABC has contacted Wicked Campers for comment.

 

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