Sydney nightclubs advertising Anzac-themed parties could face large fines for disrespectful “misuse” of the term, the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs has warned.
A cluster of venues along Oxford Street are under scrutiny for advertisements promoting events this week that feature scantily clad models in some military clothing.
The poster for Stonewall Hotel’s “Anzac Day – Annual Uniform Party” on Tuesday depicts a shirtless male model in a sailor’s cap and pants and competitions including karaoke, best abs and “sexy sailor”.
The nearby Colombian Hotel’s “Anzac Week” line-up includes “sexy caged boys” and a DJ on “Anzac Eve”.
The Colombian’s licensee on Monday told AAP he wouldn’t comment on the furore.
But a Facebook post advertising the event, which showed a shirtless man in camouflage pants and warpaint, has since been taken down.
A department spokeswoman said formal permission to use the word “Anzac” had to be sought from the veterans’ affairs minister to protect against its “misuse”.
An Act in place since 1920 ensures the term is treated with the respect and dignity it deserves, she added.
“However, it should be noted that the words ‘Anzac Day’ may be used in connection with certain events or entertainment held on April 25 itself, or on consecutive days, including April 25.
“This means some advertising that may be considered to be in poor taste can be compliant with the regulations.”
The posters will be reviewed by the department and the clubs will be contacted if it’s determined they breached the regulations.
A formal “cease and desist” letter can be issued to organisations that fail to stop using the term.
Further action can take the form of large fines or in extreme cases, pursuing a prison sentence, the spokeswoman said.
NSW Veterans’ Affairs Minister David Elliott said businesses should think twice before using the term because Anzac Day is to be commemorated, not celebrated.
It’s a “very, very emotional time for lots of families across NSW”, Mr Elliott said on Monday.
“It (inappropriate advertising) is distasteful, it’s wrong, it’s unethical and it’s a breach of the law,” the minister said.
“That’s not to say we shouldn’t have a game of two-up and a drink … as far as I’m concerned it’s a given.
“But don’t use it as an opportunity to tout for business, don’t use it as an opportunity to promote commercial interests, and don’t use it as a reason to get drunk and beat up your mates.”
Stonewall Hotel has been contacted for comment.