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Ugly fight erupts over Tourism Australia campaign: 'Aussies aren't buying it'

Tourism Australia has revealed its been forced to block a number of social media accounts amid ongoing criticism of its new campaign.

Multiple posts have also been removed because they attacked its advertising featuring a cartoon kangaroo called Ruby which was voiced by actor Rose Byrne.

Among those censored were the Twitter accounts for the Animal Justice Party NSW (AJP), which has two MPs in NSW parliament, and animal welfare group Victorian Kangaroo Alliance (VKA).

Tourism Australia has blocked a large number of accounts after it received a barrage of criticism over the use of a kangaroo in its latest campaign. Source: Tourism Australia / Twitter
Tourism Australia has blocked a large number of accounts after it received a barrage of criticism over the use of a kangaroo in its latest campaign. Source: Tourism Australia / Twitter

Both had their accounts blocked after posting comments on Tourism Australia’s page. But following questions by Yahoo News Australia to Tourism Australia this decision was reversed.

Like many animal advocates, AJP and VKA had been pasting comments and images under posts about Ruby that highlight Australia’s treatment of wildlife.

AJP spokesperson Greg Keightley said his party has been questioning why the Federal Government is using the cute image of Ruby to sell tourism, while simultaneously allowing actual kangaroos to be shot as “pests”.

“Our Government publishes coldly detailed instructions on how to kill joeys after their mothers have been shot for pet food and leather. And Australians aren't buying it,” he said.

“Aside from the many people decrying the cringe or commenting that Ruby looks more like a rabbit, Australians have been coming together to call out the hypocrisy of (the) Government.”

VKA spokesperson Alyssa Wormald said she hoped the Tourism Australia campaign would lead to “an honest national conversation” about the killing of kangaroos.

“We just want people to understand the ghastly truth about how we treat kangaroos,” she said.

Animal welfare charity predicted campaign could backfire

More than a week ago, animal protection charity, Animals Australia, predicted that Tourism Australia’s campaign “could backfire”.

Australia is home to the largest land-based wildlife slaughter in the world. Source: Getty
Australia is home to the largest land-based wildlife slaughter in the world. Source: Getty

“Tourism Australia using a kangaroo as its ‘face’ of tourism is the equivalent of Japan adopting a whale as its tourism icon or Canada marketing itself using harp seal images,” Animals Australia’s Louise Bonomi said.

“If (Tourism Australia's) Ruby the Roo was an actual kangaroo, she would be targeted by the commercial kangaroo shooting industry.

“Tourists would be absolutely horrified if they had a glimpse of the nightly slaughter that inflicts immense suffering on kangaroos shot in the wild and huge trauma for the surviving animals who manage to escape the shooters’ rifles.”

Why Tourism Australia has been blocking criticism

Australia is home to the largest land-based slaughter of wildlife in the world, permitting the shooters to gun down an estimated 2 million adults, and kill 500,000 joeys a year.

While some of the meat is used for human consumption, the majority is funnelled into the pet food market as a cheap source of protein. Leather is also used by sports brands Nike and Adidas to make soccer boots.

One image shared by AJP and VKA contrasts an image of Ruby with an image of kangaroo carcasses hanging from the back of a commercial shooter’s ute.

A search of Tourism Australia's Twitter accounts revealed a large number of images posted in the comments section that depict Australia's commercial kangaroo industry.

The pictures are horrifying and include decapitated kangaroos and piles of dead animals on the ground.

Yahoo News Australia understands Tourism Australia has assessed many of the posts on its page to be aggressive.

The decision to block accounts was made after a determination it was under attack from coordinated spamming efforts which repurposed Tourism Australia's intellectual property.

Other reasons Tourism Australia can decide to block accounts include phishing bots, spam, inappropriate or offensive behaviour or repeated posting of the same image.

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