A letter sent to a cheese manufacturer by an Aboriginal activist has expressed "disappointment" in the company for failing to pull its offensively branded stock from supermarket shelves months after pledging to do so.
Anti-racism campaigner Dr Stephen Hagan authored the letter to Saputo, the company responsible for producing the Coon cheese brand, criticising it for the length of time it has taken to remove its offensive product from market shelves and replace them with a new brand name.
Dr Hagan told NITV News on Tuesday that he was "very offended" that the product remained on shelves and had begun to question whether the company is serious about bringing about change, having received no further correspondence about the progress of the rebranding since the announcement was made in July.
"If they were serious about honouring the commitment, they would have removed it the day that they announced they were retiring the name. Four months later, it makes a bit of a mockery of their unambiguous comment about eliminating racism," said Dr Hagen
"I believe that they are enablers in perpetuating the misuse of the word C*** on their products. As long as that word is visible to the public, they're the only people who can deal with it and they're condoning the use or misuse of that racist term."
The decision to retire the brand name in July followed a decades-long effort led by Dr Hagan and other Indigenous activists to have the product renamed, which included an unsuccessful complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 1999.
The most recent attempt to demand action from the anti-racism campaigner was prompted by a frustrated Facebook post by award-winner Indigenous comedian Steph Tisdell which revealed that the offensive product was still being stocked.
Mr Hagan labelled Saputo's decision to publicly announce their intention to rebrand the product almost four months ago as "deceitful".
"It's perpetuating the problem that I've always had. The visual ugliness and offensiveness of that name on the shelves of supermarkets.
"Allen's and Nestle have actually acted on their word, they said they would bring about change and they've changed it by renaming those respective lollies. Saputo just wanted to get something out there to indicate their intentions, but it doesn't matter to them if it's still out there four months later, six months later, or six years later," he said.
Mr Hagan questioned why Saputo, as an "enormously huge organisation", have been unable to remove the offensive stock from shelves, and has called on them to be transparent about their intentions to rebrand the product.
"Saputo’s lack of action in removing the racist brand 'C***' from your range of cheese on offer in supermarkets in Australia says more about your commitment, or lack thereof, of taking responsibility to eliminate racism in all its forms.
"The visual ugliness of that brand not only appals me every time I have cause to do grocery shopping and see their stacked shelves, but it also brings into question your actual commitment to honouring your emphatic statement," Dr Hagen said in his letter.
"As long as it is out there, the rednecks of Australia are having the last laugh."
NITV requested a response from Saputo about how the company would move forward and honour its commitment but did not receive a reply.
However, a spokesperson for the organisation told The Australian newspaper on Tuesday that the company was still committed to rebranding the cheese, a decision which came after "thorough consideration", but could not offer any details of the timing for the announcement of the name change.
“We are currently working on the new brand development and look forward to revealing it to our customers and consumers once completed,’’ the spokesperson told the publication.