BILL Shorten's attempt to spoil the Coalition's budget with a new campaign ad appears to have backfired, with claims of racism now being levelled at the Labor Opposition leader.
In the ad, Mr Shorten talks about Labor's plans to put "Australians first". To hammer home the point, he stands in front of a group of mildly irritated looking people who are all, presumably, Australians. With the exception of one Asian woman, every one of them is white.
The new ad is turning into Labor's "Oscars so white," moment, generating online backlash and forcing a review of the ad.
Mr Shorten has slammed the racism claim as "rubbish" - but he's not entirely chuffed about the video either.
Even his own colleagues have waved the white flag on the ad fail.
"Anyone who sees it will know exactly what's wrong with it," senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese told reporters in Canberra today, calling the ad "a shocker".
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
"I have no idea [what the approval process was]. I know because of Channel Nine's exclusive - clearly it was dropped to Channel Nine to be shown last night.
"I don't know what the process is. I am a member of the ALP national executive, I assure you that I hadn't seen it."
Meanwhile, the head of the right-wing Australia First party has told news.com.au that far from being annoyed at Labor borrowing its name, Mr Shorten could actually have "done us a favour" by "legitimising" his party.In the ad, which debuted on Sunday night on Nine News, the Opposition leader proclaims how "A Shorten Labor Government will build Australian first, buy Australian first and employ Australians first".
The ad is turning into an unwanted distraction for the party one day out from the Federal Budget. Labor MPs represent some of the most ethnically diverse electorates in Australia, including Barton in western Sydney and Batman in Melbourne, and it's understood several of them have voiced concerns worried how the ad will play with voters in their communities.
Speculation is rife the ad is an appeal to those worried about multiculturalism, or a none-too-subtle pitch to some voters of Pauline Hanson's One National party or the Australian Conservatives.
The President of Australia First, Dr Jim Saleam, told news.com.au Labor "would have had to have known their slogan was the name of another party" and speculated whether it was partly aimed at their supporters.
Australia First stands on a platform of protectionism, heavy limits on immigration and has committed to "abolish multiculturalism".
Dr Saleam said the ad campaign could well be a dog whistle tactic to appeal to some Labor voters who had drifted to minor, more fringe parties.
"They are worried people are thinking outside the mainstream political parties who don't support Bill Shorten and would consider Australia First.
"The ad could end up doing us a favour, " he added. "It could legitimise our [use of] language and Labor could promote Australia First without intending to do so."
Greens Senator for Tasmania, Nick McKim, berated Labor on Sunday night. "How about you put the dog whistle away and start fighting for multicultural Australia?," he wrote.
Mr Shorten told reporters in Canberra on Monday he did not believe the ad was racist, but would seek a review of it.
Others have put it down to just sheer incompetence on the part of the ad agency that produced the ad.
Challenged about the advert on Monday, Shorten admitted the lack of non-white people was not a good look.
"I am not in the business of making ads," he said. "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."
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