NSW Premier Mike Baird rejected calls to ban offensive slogans on campervans, including the Wicked Campers fleet, from parts of northern NSW.
Byron Bay Shire councillor Duncan Dey wants to wipe the “usually sexist” slogans off the vans or ban them from council caravan parks and is seeking the premier’s support.
“I haven’t seen the details … but people sort of getting around in campervans enjoying the coast seems a pretty normal thing to be doing,” Mr Baird told reporters on Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s something that the state government should be getting involved in.”
Mr Dey is preparing to argue for the reforms at a council meeting on Thursday, in a move supported by Ballina Shire councillor Robyn Hordern.
“Councillors will have seen the Wicked slogans over the years. We were relieved at one stage by many of the vans being taken off the road when found unroadworthy. They seem to have then returned, with the slogans even more offensive than before,” Mr Dey said in a motion lodged ahead of the meeting.
Mr Dey wants Byron Bay Council to write to Mr Baird and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk seeking support to get the vans off the road.
Signs saying: “Van drivers, your wicked slogan is not welcome in Byron Shire” could be erected at Byron Shire entry points, and the vans could be banned from council caravan parks, Mr Dey suggests.
Ms Hordern also lodged a motion to write to state and federal ministers pledging support for any action or legislative changes to ban the “inappropriate messages”.
“… the public display of these messages is often insulting and/or degrading to many members of our community,” Ms Hordern said motion lodged ahead of a council meeting on Thursday.
Annual Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass, held near Byron Bay, has also taken a stand against the campervans.
“If you’re booking a campervan, please steer clear of sexist slogans! You know who you are. It’s 2016, get with the program!!,” says the Splendour in the Grass website.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm said councils and “wowsers” in northern NSW should leave Wicked alone.
He said Wicked was an Australian business supporting tourism and reports its vans were being vandalised were disturbing.
Wicked had already toned down some of its slogans in response to previous complaints, he said.
“That’s how free speech should work, not by legislation,” he said.
“Personally, I find authoritarians disguised as hippies or feminists far more offensive than any slogan on the back of a van, but I don’t seek to ban them.”
Wicked Campers has been contacted for comment.