The face of the humorous Australia Day lamb ads, Sam Kekovich, is now starring in a television commercial encouraging people to vote for Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives party.
"In an age of deals, excuses and shortcuts — it's time for a better way," Kekovich says in the 30-second ad that has been running on TV since Monday.
"Australia could really do with a new brand of politics," the ad says. "Someone that will say what they mean and mean what they say. A party that will never quit, never give up and I know Cory Bernardi and his team of conservatives will always fight for you."
Kekovich says the party will fight for affordable and reliable electricity and stronger borders, defend Australian values and stand up to political correctness.
The party has set up a fundraising page on its website, asking for donations to keep the ad running.
"Your gift today will help meet the funding gap of $155,000 to keep this ad on TV — and your help is urgently needed to make it happen," it says.
It gives people the option of donating $30, $60, $120, $250, $1,000 or $2,500.
Bernardi would not answer BuzzFeed News questions about whether Kekovich is a member of the Australian Conservatives, or how he came to work for them.
"It's just an ad!" Bernardi told BuzzFeed News. "Sam Kekovich is an identity who resonates with a great many Australians whose well known catchphrase is all about common sense – which is exactly what the Australian Conservatives are about," Bernardi said.
Bernardi was among the 28 senators who voted in favour of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's "it is ok to be white" motion in the Senate on Monday.
Kekovich is a controversial and outspoken figure. The former AFL player, sports commentator and radio host has been the Australian "Lambassador" for Meat and Livestock since 2005.
Kekovich most recently appeared in a comedy sketch for The Project encouraging Australians to #SmashAStrawb after fruit from across the country was contaminated with sewing needles.
A spokesperson for Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) told BuzzFeed News it had no knowledge of the Australian Conservatives ad and doesn't endorse the use of "Lambassador".
The term was used in a post on Bernardi's Facebook page that said: "Help get our ad on TV! The Lambassador supports Australian Conservatives... a better way".
“MLA had no knowledge of Sam’s involvement in the Australian Conservatives campaign and MLA does not in any way endorse the use of ‘Lambassador’ as part of this campaign," the spokesperson said.
"MLA developed and has utilised ‘Lambassador’ as part of its marketing for over 10 years and is disappointed that the term has been used in a political campaign."
MLA told BuzzFeed News that Kekovich still works for the organisation from "time to time".
“However, Sam is not exclusively contracted to MLA and does work for other companies and organisations," an MLA spokesperson said. "Like all Australians, he is also free to express his personal opinion."
MLA said it has no political opinion and is expressly barred from encouraging or supporting election campaigns for individuals or political parties.
It wouldn't comment on whether Kekovich will appear in its next Australia's Day ad campaign.
Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.
Contact Alice Workman at email@example.com.
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