Australia’s opposition Labor Party has been accused of racism after it released an advert promising to “Employ Australians first”.
After a backlash, party leader Bill Shorten has now apologized publicly saying people from more diverse backgrounds should have featured in the new campaign.
The ad featured Shorten together with a group of workers, almost all of whom are white, promising to “build Australian first, buy Australian first and employ Australians first” .
But on social media, some slammed these sentiments as “racist”, claiming they pandered to “nativism and xenophobia”.
Shorten caved in to pressure and swiftly tried to distance himself from the ad, saying he thought it included “too many white Australians” and adding “I think it’s rubbish.”
He said: “I’m not in the ad-making business. I make no apology for saying that there’s been 130,000 apprenticeships cut under the Liberals, that we’ve had too many rorts [sic] in our 457 visa system.
“I certainly think we need to encourage as much diversity as we can. I’ve had a look at the final production and I think we should have had more diversity in it and I will be speaking to the Labor Party about that.”
A similar slogan to the one Shorten used has been used by the UK’s Conservative Party and by President Trump in recent campaigns.
David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, pledged last year to put British workers first after it leaves the EU.
Donald Trump famously used “America First” slogan to signal his nationalist intentions. “From this day forward, a new vision will govern… it’s going to be only America first, America first”, he told the crowd at his inauguration.