Earlier this week BuzzFeed News obtained a copy of a script for Meat and Livestock Australia's latest Australia Day Lamb advertisement, which depicts Aboriginal people partying on a beach with their British colonisers.
BuzzFeed News was told by several Aboriginal people who had seen the script that they were upset and offended by its portrayal of Indigenous people.
A letter from The Monkeys advertising agency that accompanied the script says the advertisement is meant "to take on a controversial subject that continually seems to be regularly brushed under the carpet: Australia Day and its true meaning".
For the majority of Indigenous people, Australia Day, January 26, is known as survival or invasion day and marks the start of a violent and bloody conflict with the British.
The script opens with a couple of Aboriginal characters discovering Australia around "60,000 (ish) years ago" and setting up a BBQ to celebrate. They come back a year later and have another celebration, marking what is essentially the first Australia Day.
Ian, Stewart and "woman", the main Aboriginal characters, welcome boats from different countries, including the British first fleet, who all join the celebration.
The script features a character called "Dan Sultan", who is playing a didgeridoo on the beach, and another called "Kevin Rudd", who barges through a crowd of Aboriginal people repeatedly saying sorry, a reference to the former prime minister's 2008 apology to the Stolen Generations.
"The message of the 'first united celebration of Australia' is wrapped in humour –which we feel is the best approach to take the edge off the serious subject and connect with Australians without being too confrontational," the letter accompanying the script reads.
"We do believe that with the level of visibility of this ad – typically covered by every major news organisation in Australia and seen by millions – we can start a conversation and create positive change. Have a read – we hope you agree."
Meat and Livestock Australia told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that the leaked script was an "early draft".
"The 'We Love our Lamb' campaigns, and MLA as a company, are committed to celebrating diversity and we look forward to sharing our latest ad with all Australians early next year," a spokesperson said.
You can read the full script below.
Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.
Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.
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