Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi has landed himself in a stoush with Australia's multi-billion-dollar livestock industry after using the term "lambassador" in his promotional material.
- The MLA says a Government funding agreement forbids them from engaging in political activity
- A legal representative for MLA asks Senator Bernardi to immediately post a retraction
- Senator Bernardi says "lambassador" is a generic term and he "won't be rammed into submission"
Industry group Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has complained to Senator Bernardi about a Facebook post of an Australian Conservatives advertisement fronted by Sam Kekovich.
Mr Kekovich is a former footballer and media personality, well-known for heading MLA's Australia Day lamb ads.
He is also the face of the new Australian Conservatives video, which is promoted on Senator Bernardi's Facebook page with the phrase "The Lambassador supports Australian Conservatives".
MLA demands immediate retraction of advertisement
MLA has written to Senator Bernardi saying his party has no right to use "Lambassador".
In the letter, General Counsel Clare Stanwix said the advertisement was a breach of MLA's intellectual property rights, demanding Senator Bernardi "forever cease and desist".
She also said under a funding agreement with the Federal Government, MLA was "expressly forbidden" from engaging in political activity.
"This is an extremely serious matter," Ms Stanwix wrote.
"Recipients might be led to believe that MLA has endorsed the Australian Conservatives when this is not the case."
MLA has asked Senator Bernardi to immediately post a retraction, and "forever cease and desist" from using the MLA intellectual property in any way, including any further campaign material or advertising.
'Lambassador' widely used by lamb fans: Senator
But Senator Bernardi said he "won't be rammed into submission" and had received preliminary legal advice showing MLA was on shaky ground.
He said the term "lambassador" was in generic and used on plenty of websites, including on Mr Kekovich's own webpage.
"They don't own the term, it is a generic term, it's a hybrid of the term 'lamb' and 'ambassador' and it's used widely by those people who like lamb," Senator Bernardi said.
"The MLA are making a number of spurious allegations and trying to ram us into submission and are lambasting us for using a person like Mr Kekovich."
Senator Bernardi said his party's television advertising didn't use the term "lambassador", and it was only the Facebook post that used it.
Senator Bernardi said MLA was seemingly worried about its government funding and was using "bully boy" tactics.