OFFENSIVE: Wicked Campers.
OFFENSIVE: Wicked Campers. Geoff Potter

Wicked Campers: Get this trash off our roads

SUNSHINE Coast tourism bodies have welcomed the RACQ's latest push for a crack down on the open flouting of advertising standards by Wicked Campers.

RACQ executive general manager advocacy Paul Turner called for the State Government to step up and act on the rental service, which routinely ignored adverse decisions handed to them by the Advertising Standards Bureau "to absolutely no consequence".

"From despicable slogans encouraging dangerous driving, including drug-driving and running down native animals, to pornographic depictions and derogatory statements about women, we don't want to see it on Queensland roads any longer," Mr Turner said.

"There's no argument on free speech to be made here. There is a reason you can't put messages like this on television or billboards, the same standard needs to be upheld in this case."

The ASB has received more than 80 complaints against Wicked Campers since 2008, around 30 of which were dismissed.

New Zealand has taken a tough stance against the rental company, removing it from the Department of Conservation's tourist information listings in April and Top 10 Holiday Parks group chief executive David Ovendale encouraged franchisees to ensure offensive material was covered prior to entry or refusing offending vehicles entry altogether.

The Queenstown District Council also began issuing a $300 fine every time one of Wicked Campers' vehicles displaying sexually explicit, indecent or offensive slogans was spotted in Queenstown.

In late April, the Byron Shire Council also began lobbying the NSW premier and Splendour in Grass gave the campaign a boost by asking festival goers to think twice about renting a van with a sexist or misogynist slogan on it.

Caloundra Tourism chair Bill Darby said while censorship was a "slippery slope", obvious discrimination should not be tolerated.

"It's not our place to censor, but it is our place to not tolerate businesses that trade in insults that are clearly offensive," Mr Darby said.

"It's the gutter tactics that I don't think most people appreciate."

Visit Sunshine Coast acting CEO Simon Latchford said some of the slogans were not in keeping with the brand image of the Sunshine Coast as a safe and family friendly destination.

"They certainly have capacity to change a visitor's view of an area," he said.

"It is up to park owners whether they allow (the campers) in, but this can be complicated with commercial consequences and discrimination laws."

Coast residents have had a mixed response to the call for tighter regulation of Wicked Campers.

Alexandra Headland grandfather Dave Lees said there was nothing wrong with a little bit of humour, but the slogans needed to be made more politically correct.

"We also shouldn't be discouraging them from the Coast we as need the tourism dollars, but the slogans do need to be toned down," he said.

Cotton Tree's Lindsay Calvert said there should be "no more nanny state" interventions and freedom of speech should prevail.

Buderim mother of three Storme Joubert said there was a line between the vans that held funny slogans and those that were "just plain inappropriate".

"They should be made to follow the (advertising) rules that are there," she said.

"Many of the vans are inappropriate for children, who see them when they are riding in a car."

Wicked Campers founder John Webb has not yet responded to calls for comment.



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