Bill Leak's cartoon as published in The Australian this week.
Bill Leak's cartoon as published in The Australian this week.

Bill Leak defends Aboriginal cartoon

A CARTOON in The Australian has been blasted as racist, but the paper's editor has defended its publication in light of concerns over Indigenous children.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said he was appalled by the cartoon's publication on  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children's Day

"Although Australian cartoonists have a rich tradition of irreverent satire, there is absolutely no place for depicting racist stereotypes," Mr Scullion said.

The cartoon show an Aboriginal man holding a beer can, not remembering his son's name as a police officer grabs the boy by his collar.

In a statement to SBS, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council said they would be lodging a complaint to the Australian Press Council against the "racist cartoon" that "insulted and denigrated Aboriginal people".

"Bill Leak's cartoon is ugly, insulting and it is embarrassing for Australia's national newspaper to publish it," it said.

"It is time the decision-makers at The Australian accept personal responsibility for the hurt they have caused Aboriginal people today."

"Sadly, racism and discrimination is a fact of life for Aboriginal people who have lived on and cared for this country for more than 60,000 years".

"The hurt and humiliation that victims of racism experience is real and has a terrible toll on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people.''

Should the cartoon have been published?

This poll ended on 12 August 2016.

Current Results

Yes. It's an important issue


No. It stereotypes Aboriginal people


No. It was not even clever


Yes. We are all too political correct


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The Australian editor-in-chief Paul Whittaker said the cartoon's publication was made after comments by Indigenous leaders this week, including Noel Pearson on Lateline who said: "Blackfellas have got to take charge and take responsibility for their own children. That part of the message really struggles to get traction."

The Australian has had a long history of highlighting Aboriginal issues and is generally known for its positive coverage of indigenous affairs.

Mr Whittaker said the controversy over juvenile detention in the Northern Territory had put the issue back in the national spotlight.

"Bill Leak's confronting and insightful cartoons force people to examine the core issues in a way that sometimes reporting and analysis can fail to do."

Bill Leak himself on Friday defended the cartoon, blasting the outrage on Twitter.

"When little children can't understand things, they often lash out and throw tantrums,'' he wrote in a lengthy response.

"By enabling tantrum-throwers to re-establish their feelings of moral superiority they can walk away purged, but it doesn't get to the root of their problem: Chronic Truth Aversion Disorder.

"The CTAD epidemic that is raging unchecked through Australia's social media population is rendering impossible any intellig­ent debate on serious social issues, such as the rampant violence, abuse and neglect of children in remote indigenous communities,'' Mr Leak wrote.

"... I was trying to say that if you think things are pretty crook for the children locked up in the Northern Territory's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, you should have a look at the homes they came from."

"Then you might understand why so many of them finished up there."

What do you think? Was the cartoon's publication poor form? Did you think it was worth running? Have your say in comments below

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