Outcry, complaints over ‘ugly‘, 'insulting' cartoon in The Australian

Australians are condemning a cartoon published in a national newspaper on Thursday Source: Twitter

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are condemning a cartoon published in The Australian on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.

People are reacting with anger after The Australian newspaper this morning published a cartoon depicting an Indigenous man who has forgotten the name of his child.

The controversial image drawn by regular contributor Bill Leak shows a police officer holding a young boy by the scruff of his T-shirt as he hands him over to man holding a can of beer.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous commentators, leaders and the public have condemned the cartoon on Twitter and the national newspaper's decision to publish it. The publication of the cartoon coincides with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day.

In apparent response to the controversy, in a tweet at 11am, The Australian referred to the image as "certainly a talking point today".

NSW Aboriginal Land Council says cartoon is 'embarrassing' for The Australian

In a statement, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council tells SBS that they will be lodging a complaint to the Australian Press Council against the "racist cartoon" that "insulted and denigrated Aboriginal people".

"Bill Leak’s cartoon is ugly, insulting and it is embarrassing for Australia’s national newspaper to publish it," it said.

“It is time the decision-makers at The Australian accept personal responsibility for the hurt they have caused Aboriginal people today.”

The statement continued, "Sadly, racism and discrimination is a fact of life for Aboriginal people who have lived on and cared for this country for more than 60,000 years".

“The hurt and humiliation that victims of racism experience is real and has a terrible toll on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people," the statement said.

SBS has contacted The Australian and Mr Leak for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication. SBS understands that the newspaper has already received a number of complaints about the cartoon.

Acclaimed Indigenous director and producer of ABC series Cleverman Ryan Griffen, was among the first to label the image as "racist".

In a Tweet he wrote, “You surprised with the racist Cartoon in the Australian? Nah its just another Thursday. This sh*t happens all the time people”.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale also responded on social media, writing, "Unacceptable to see a national newspaper... publish a racist cartoon and spread intolerance & discrimination".

Previous cartoon controversy

Mr Leak, who published the cartoon in his regular ‘Bleak Life’ section, has previously been labelled "racist" for portraying Indigenous Australians and other minorities in a way that embraces cultural stereotypes.

In 2015, a cartoon depicting Indian people contemplating eating solar panels was condemned as racist towards Indians.

Mr Leak’s latest commentary comes a week after a Four Corners program aired footage of children in Darwin’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre stripped naked and sprayed with tear gas, with claims that the youths were held for hours at a time in a restraint chair.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has since ordered a Royal Commission to investigate the treatment of the minors at the correctional facility, 97 per cent of whom are Indigenous. 

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