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    18 Jun 2020

    Boris Johnson's Announcement Of The Launch Of Free Trade Talks With Oz Is Cringey To Say The Least

    Tim Tams were also a hot topic of discussion.

    Yesterday, prime minister Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson, his UK counterpart, announced the launch of negotiations of a free trade agreement.

    Sam Mooy / Getty Images, Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

    This has been in the works for a while, but negotiations couldn't formally begin until Brexit had been sorted.

    In a video shared to ScoMo's Twitter page, he said that the Free Trade Agreement would mean "more jobs, more growth, more prosperity in both our countries and more opportunities for Australian and UK citizens to live and work in each other's countries."

    Delighted to join with @BorisJohnson to celebrate today’s launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement between Australia and the UK. It will mean more jobs, more growth and more opportunities for both our citizens to live and work in each other’s countries post COVID.

    Meanwhile, in the video shared by Johnson, he said that he "wants a world in which we [the UK] send you Marmite, you [Australia] send us Vegemite."

    There are few countries in the world who share a closer friendship than Australia and the UK. Now, as an independent trading nation for the first time in decades, we have the opportunity to turn our shared history and friendship into a world-leading free trade agreement. 🇬🇧🇦🇺

    He followed this by saying, "we send you Penguins and you send us, with reduced tariffs, these wonderful Arnott's Tim Tams."

    @BorisJohnson / Via Twitter: @BorisJohnson

    "How long can the British people be deprived of the opportunity to have Arnott's Tim Tams at a reasonable price?"

    @BorisJohnson / Via Twitter: @BorisJohnson

    But Twitter users were left baffled as to why something as trivial as Tim Tams were being discussed in Johnson's address.

    Had to check the image of Boris Johnson flogging Tim Tams wasn't faked. Turns out the whole thing's real and Britain is continuing to humiliate itself on the world stage.

    @BorisJohnson_MP WTF? Tim Tams in exchange for loss of freedom of movement. You couldn’t make it up.

    @10DowningStreet @BorisJohnson What about all the food we already get from the EU. I would rather have Fruit, veg, olive oil, wine etc than tim tams

    I don't want to alarm anybody but the man charged with getting us out of the worst recession in centuries is currently using his office to flog the chocolate malty flavour of Arnott's Tim Tams

    Tim Tams aside, Johnson also went into detail about what our two countries currently trade with each other. He mentioned offhandedly that, "we export all kinds of things, including — I was amazed to discover — boomerangs made in the UK, exported to Australia."

    @BorisJohnson / Via Twitter: @BorisJohnson

    Which people quickly picked up on as being problematic:

    YOU HAVE TO BE JOKING Here's Boris Johnson boasting about exporting BOOMERANGS made in the UK to Australia. @Birmo let's just ignore all the Indigenous artists that craft authentic boomerangs & are robbed of their income by knock offs & fake polymer toys. #Auspol

    @10DowningStreet @davrosz @BorisJohnson I am not sure which part is more upsetting.. a. A hype video for talks which aren’t concluded. b. Aust IMPORTING boomerangs - a uniquely indigenous weapon. c. The best egs of Aussie trade being wine and Tim Tams d. Boris holding up a packet of Tim Tams e. All of the above 😧😧

    While examples of boomerangs have been found in other parts of the world for thousands of years, according to the National Museum of Australia, boomerangs "are an internationally recognised symbol of Australia. For Aboriginal people the boomerang is a symbol of cultural endurance and a tangible link to their long presence on this continent".

    A display of five wooden boomerangs with artwork
    Proton123 / Getty Images

    Clarifying Johnson's comments in an interview on ABC News Breakfast this morning, the Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment — senator Simon Birmingham — said that the boomerangs the prime minister was referring to are "not Indigenous artefacts, but [are] actually some toy that's called a boomerang".

    View this video on YouTube

    ABC News Australia / Via

    He went on to say, "it's not what people may think when they see the video and I'll certainly be trying to go out and see if I can find one just to check it out".

    But a quick Google search shows that there are some UK websites with toy boomerangs referencing Indigenous culture, like this "Wicked Aussie Booma" found on the website, Wicked.

    Plastic and bright coloured boomerang
    Wicked / Via

    Or this one from Oddballs:

    Boomerang with what looks like Aboriginal artwork
    Oddballs / Via

    The description of the item reads: "Its shape, inspired by the Indigenous Australians, can make it a little awkward to catch — for this reason, this model is recommended for intermediate throwers".

    While it's not clear if these websites ship to Australia, it does bring up questions of cultural appropriation, given that the commercialisation of fake Aboriginal art is a major issue in Australia.

    As of yet, ScoMo hasn't responded to Johnson's comments.

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