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Jet ski campaign sparks racism row

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February 09, 2011 By Stefanie Menezes

A national Australian-Lebanese group has called on New South Wales Maritime to change a jet ski safety awareness campaign, which it says discriminates against ethnic communities and encourages racial profiling.

As part of its Multicultural Jet Ski Safety Awareness campaign, the department hired Lebanese comedian Rob Shehadie as its frontman for a series of posters and a YouTube video.

The slogan "Tell your cousins in the dozens, tuk it easy on the water", has offended the United Australian Lebanese Movement.

Secretary General Labib Abraham says the campaign could have been done in a more tasteful manner.

"We would have preferred it to target all jet skiers as opposed to a segment within Australian society," he said.

"It's quite disheartening. Responsible government seeks harmony within society - not divisions. We shouldn't be appealing to the lesser fraction of our morality."

Co-owner of online jet ski site 4-TecForum, Dominic Favaloro, says jet skiers are not impressed either.

"(We) need more education and safety, not targeting a group of people just because of their nationality," he said.

"At the end of the day the money that's getting spent on this is our money, it should have been thought out a lot more. We don't want to target certain people."

Mr Favaloro says young people may find the slogan funny, but older jet skiers do not want to be stereotyped.

The State Government has downplayed criticisms of the campaign.

Waterways Minister Eric Roozendaal says the campaign is simply targeted at men.

"Young men - many of whom like to take risks - are the target of a jet ski safety campaign," he said.

"This actor and comedian has become a jet ski safety mascot helping to raise awareness for the need for the safe and responsible use of jet skis."

Tuk It Easy!



A poster from the campaign that has offended Lebanese community members and jet skiers alike. (NSW Maritime)
A poster from the campaign that has offended Lebanese community members and jet skiers alike. (NSW Maritime)

 


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