28 Apr 2016

Three Wicked Campers vans banned

8:02 pm on 28 April 2016

Three of Wicked Campers' van designs have been banned by the Chief Censor, in the first classification involving vehicles in New Zealand.

Wicked campervans parkedup at the company's yard.

Wicked Campers has drawn attention for its colourful - and controversial - designs and slogans. Photo: RNZ/ Tom Furley

After a backlash from the police, councils and Associate Tourism Minister Paula Bennett over the markings on many of the vehicles, the censor has ruled three of the designs are objectionable.

Read the ruling from the Office of Film and Literature Classification (PDF, 279KB)

The ban does not relate to sexually explicit slogans, but to the use of imagery of children's characters and drugs.

The vans in question feature Snow White, Shaggy and Scooby Doo, and a character from Dr Seuss, with illegal drugs.

One of the vans banned by New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification.

One of the banned designs Photo: SUPPLIED

The ruling from the Office of Film and Literature Classification said, while the designs were aimed at young adults, they would also be attractive to children.

"The size and colourful nature of the imagery on the vans will inevitably draw the attention of children and young teenagers, who are likely to focus on familiar characters and accept the humorous presentation of drug use uncritically," the office said in its decision.

The ruling said, while the right to freedom of expression was considered, the decision made was a "reasonable limitation on commercial free speech".

A classification of R16 was considered, but was found to be too impractical to enforce.

"Significant injury to the public good, in particular the promotion of criminal drug use to children and young teenagers, arising from the display of these vans is likely," the decision said.

"The nature of the medium in this case means that this injury to the public good is not able to be adequately addressed by a restriction to those over a specified age."

Ms Bennett said the decision was a victory for everyone who had been offended by the vans.

She said Wicked Campers faced fines of up to $200,000 if the three designs were still used.

Ban across the Tasman

Meanwhile, across the Tasman, an Australian senator has said people complaining about the designs on the vans are "authoritarians disguised as hippies or feminists".

The Byron Shire Council today banned vans with offensive slogans from council-owned caravan parks - similar to the ban in New Zealand's Department of Conservation campgrounds.

The councils were spurred into action after a Byron Bay man spray-painted over a slogan describing a sexual act.

But Senator David Leyonhjelm said the company had done nothing wrong, and had made some funny slogans. People who did not like them should simply "mind their own business", he said.

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