Former Australian cricket legend Jason Gillespie is the latest to blast Tourism Australia over its latest push to lure international tourists Down Under.
On Tuesday, an animated kangaroo called Ruby was revealed as Australia’s newest ambassador as part of the Come and Say G’day campaign.
The campaign will see Ruby, voiced by Aussie actress Rose Byrne, feature on digital billboards across the globe in cities like Tokyo, Singapore, London and New York, as well as on other platforms.
“Ruby will resonate with international audiences as the campaign is rolled out across key international markets to remind the world why there’s nothing like Australia,” Trade and Tourism Minister Don Farrell said of the campaign.
But speaking as an ambassador of Kangaroos Alive, a movement for the ethical treatment of kangaroos, Gillespie accused both the Federal and NSW governments of overlooking concerns about the commercial killing of kangaroos.
“I’m guessing actress Rose Byrne, who is the voice of Ruby, doesn’t realise what really goes on at night,” he said.
“Where the bloody hell are you then?” he said.
The former Australian fast bowler was referring to a 2021 NSW parliamentary report into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos which reported a “serious decline” in numbers.
The report also stated there was “no humane method” of killing kangaroos and their joeys in either commercial or non-commercial settings.
Its recommendations included greater transparency around kangaroo population estimates, management plans, programs and practices.
“The current methodology used by Department of Planning and Environment to produce estimates of New South Wales’ macropod populations lacks not merely transparency but also rigour, and suffers from poor levels of precision,” it read.
Gillespie said the tourism value in the “globally recognisable and adorable icon” was obvious, but it needed to be protected.
“We need to learn to value these international icons and acknowledge that they are worth much more to Australia alive. Our tourist industry relies on them,” he said.
“The kangaroo is on our Australian coat of arms, it’s the Australian-made symbol and it is a much-loved animal, not just here in Australia but all over the world,” he said.
Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson went as far as to say if Ruby was real, she’d probably be shot.
“I suppose we should be grateful to Tourism Australia for creating a CGI-animated kangaroo to promote Australia and its iconic animals, because, at the rate the Australian Government is allowing kangaroos to be slaughtered for leather and pet food, cartoon kangaroos are all we will have left to show tourists and future generations,” he said.
“If Tourism Australia’s brand ambassador Ruby Roo was real, she would have been shot as part of a government ‘kangaroo management plan’ and hung up by her leg on the back of a ute.
“If Ruby Roo was real, she would have been labelled a pest and shot in the head.”
Tourism Australia said research showed the kangaroo is Australia’s top globally recognisable icon.
“The use of an animated character in Ruby was a deliberate move that aims to cut through the clutter of destination marketing internationally and it is backed by research,” Ms Coghill said.
The Come and Say G’day campaign will officially launch on October 19 and shares its name with the 1984 ad campaign staring Paul Hogan which immortalised the quote: “I’ll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie.”