The Adelaide Festival has released a statement describing a racist cartoon that appeared in The Australian newspaper as “disgraceful”, after it appeared alongside advertisements for the event.
Festival organisers had booked advertisements in the paper to run on August 5 and 6, but said they had done so long before the Leak cartoon was published on August 4.
“As with most major event campaigns, these advertisements were booked weeks ago; well in advance of Bill Leak’s disgraceful cartoon which appeared in the Australian on August 4,” the statement said.
“The Adelaide Festival does not endorse the sentiments of Bill Leak’s cartoon. The Festival deplores all forms of racism and editorial commentary that vilifies Australia’s First Nations people: it betrays the complex economic, social, and cultural issues that face many Indigenous communities with racist stereotypes.”
In response to a question from a follower on the Facebook page about whether they would continue to deal with the paper, they responded: “We will be seriously reviewing our advertising commitments internally”.
The cartoon had provoked widespread outrage after depicting Aboriginal parents as drunkards who are unable to remember their own children’s names.
Despite the anger, cartoonist Bill Leak today authored an accompanying op-ed attacking those who had been offended by his work. In a second cartoon, Leak depicted himself as the victim of a lynching mob.
Australian editor Paul Whittaker issued a statement no only defending Leak, but also praising his analysis.
“The current controversy over juvenile detention in the Northern Territory has lifted these matters to the forefront of national attention again. Too often, too many people skirt around the root causes and tough issues. But not everyone,” it said.
The paper has published a number of pieces from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal writer supporting Leak and the ideas represented by the cartoon.
Leak has a long history of racist cartooning targeted towards Aboriginal people.
In response to his latest cartoon some outlets and commentators, including New Matilda, have encouraged readers to write to companies advertising in The Australian in order to lodge their disapproval.
The Adelaide Festival has been contacted for comment.
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