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A 'Mateship Campaign' Between Australia and the US Featured Only White Men


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The "Spirit of Mateship" encompases loyalty, fellowship, alliance, and friendship.

But does it transcend the boundaries of race and gender? Apparently not.

The Australian embassy in the United States has withdrawn its Mateship Campaign after it was widely criticised over the 15 representatives selected to highlight the two nations' friendship.

All representatives were male and white.

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“The Mateship program is a public diplomacy initiative run by the Embassy of Australia in Washington, DC," Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on its website. "The program aims to highlight Australia’s strong military alliance with the United States over the past 100 years in the lead up to the centenary of the battle of Hamel on 4 July 2018."

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The Ambassador of Australia to the United States, Joe Hockey, responded to the criticism on Twitter to say he accepted "responsibility" for the campaign and agreed that it “should be fixed.”

“I have seen this story and I agree that it should be fixed. I accept responsibility. All former Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Ambassadors from both countries were originally invited, including Julia Gillard. More are currently being invited.”

The campaign initially featured a mix of politicians, ambassadors, and public servants from both sides of Australian and US politics, including Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Jimmy Carter, and George HW Bush.

Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, and former US President Barack Obama were noticeably absent from the list. Despite Hockey stating all former prime ministers were invited, Gillard took to Twitter on Monday to state she never received an invitation.

The all male, monocultural campaign was first reported by Australian news publication Women’s Agenda, which stated the list was “myopic and lazy and not at all representative of Australia or the United States.”

A spokesperson from DFAT stated it would closely review the campaign to ensure the program encompassed a range of influential people from the business, arts, sports, investment and trade sectors.

“DFAT is reviewing the mateship program run by ambassador Hockey so that it aligns with our commitment to ensure balance, and reflects the diversity of Australia and the United States,” the spokesperson said.

While DFAT’s review and anticipated alteration of the program should be applauded, gender and racial equality advocates have made clear that if Australia is to ensure "mateship" remains at the forefront of its relationship with the US, it must acknowledge and welcome the diplomatic contribution of all citizens.