Cowboy election campaign video blasted in Australia

Australian politician Bob Katter during a press conference in Canberra on Sept 7, 2010.
Australian politician Bob Katter during a press conference in Canberra on Sept 7, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian MP on Thursday (June 16) defended an election campaign video depicting him as a cowboy shooting two political opponents as "screamingly funny", despite criticism in the wake of the Orlando nightclub killings.

Bob Katter, an independent MP known for his opposition to selling off rural land to foreign interests, posted the parody of an old-style Western on Wednesday on his social media accounts, ahead of national polls on July 2.

It shows two men in Labour and Liberal party T-shirts putting an "Australia For Sale" sign on some outback land and shaking hands.

The video then switches to Katter changing the sign so it reads "Australia NOT for sale". He is subsequently seen blowing smoke from a cowboy pistol while grinning, before the camera pans to the two men lying dead.

"I thought it was screamingly funny. Political correctness council are out there," Katter told ABC after its appropriateness was questioned just days after 49 people were killed by a gunman who opened fire at a gay club in Florida.

"I don't know what's going on in the media. I don't watch television, I get to bed at midnight every night. I don't see newspapers," Katter told the ABC.

He told Sky News that "satire has been one of the most powerful weapons in Australia's history". "Australia's got a sense of humour and we need to keep it while our country is being sold off."

The video, which has had almost 100,000 views, split opinion online, and Katter's gay half-brother Carl was not impressed.

"It's a total disregard for the loss of lives that we saw in Orlando recently, which is still having a huge impact on my community which is the LBGTI, but also the greater community," he told broadcaster ABC.

Labour senator Penny Wong she was "always uncomfortable with political ads which choose to, even in a satirical sense, make fun of violence".

There have been growing concerns among the public in Australia about valuable agricultural and mineral assets passing into foreign hands, but it has yet to feature prominently in the election campaign.

Last year, the government introduced a new regime to improve scrutiny and transparency around foreign ownership of agricultural land, including a new foreign ownership register.

In April Canberra knocked back the sale of the country's biggest private landowner, cattle firm S. Kidman and Co, to a Chinese-led consortium citing national interest.