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Darwin bans 'offensive' tourism slogan

 Darwin-bans-'offensive'-tourism-slogan.jpg

Jeremy De Guzman [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

The C-word is one of the most taboo words in the English language. And this week it had everybody in talking.

The Northern Territory's unofficial tourism slogan "CU in the NT" - now adorning tee-shirts and car stickers across Darwin - has caused a furore in the Top End.

The slogan's passing nod to the deeply offensive swear word has divided the community.

Some people love it, some people hate it. And while the C-word might be a frequent part of Darwin's common vernacular, many city dwellers don't want it shoved in their and their children's faces.

So Darwin Council this week used its bylaws to ban "CU in the NT" products from tropical markets held on public lands at Mindil beach and Nightcliff.

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis, who finds the slogan offensive, used his casting vote in favour of the ban - after councillors were deadlocked in a first-round ballot - following numerous complaints, including to police.

But Mr Vatskalis admitted he felt uncomfortable because the council was not the morals police.

"I've got my reservations about banning or not banning offensive material because what's next? The NT News with a naked person on the front page, vegans complaining about selling meat at the markets?

"I think [the slogan's] immature. Some people find it funny, I don't and I find it absolutely very childish."

Fellow council alderman Robin Knox proposed the ban after receiving a lot of complaints, including from NT Attorney General and local MP Natasha Fyles, about an "offensive stall" selling products with wording that was degrading to women at Nightcliff market.

"I've had a very big number of complaints about this being displayed the last few weeks at the Sunday market at Nightcliff, which is a very family-friendly event," she said. "There is a great big playground there."

Many Darwin locals seem fine with "CU in the NT" and resent the council's interference, judging by social media and talkback radio responses.

The slogan arguably has greater recognition than the NT's official tourism advertising campaign at a time when the hordes of backpackers that used to travel to Darwin and Alice Springs have greatly diminished.

"I have a friend who is leaving Darwin and wants to get a tee-shirt. You have got to have that sense of humour," Ben's Bakehouse owner Susannah Vong told AAP.

"It's a very savvy way of grabbing people's attention, it has put us on the map."

Marketing and advertising expert and social commentator Jane Caro considers herself a feminist but did not find it offensive and even admires the marketing skills of those behind the slogan.

The company behind the slogan, NT Unofficial, said their intention was to promote territory and it was ridiculous to suggest it offended women.

"We've never said any bad words, only ever provided an invitation to the Northern Territory, one of the greatest places on earth," the company said on the CU in the NT Facebook page.

"If anyone is offended by our simple slogan, they might have trouble reading."

The products will still be available online and in Northern Territory shops.

© AAP 2019