A well-known Australian cartoonist, Michael Leunig, claims he lost his top rank in a Melbourne newspaper after drawing parallels between the Tiananmen Square riots and Covid-19 vaccine regulations in a recent cartoon.
Speaking to The Australian on Monday, Leunig said that while the editorial team has censored about a dozen of his works this year, the last straw appeared to be an anti-mandate cartoon which was a play on the iconic ‘tank man’ photo. Leunig’s cartoon shows a man staring down a tank, with its main gun being replaced by a syringe.
The original photo depicts a lone Chinese protester standing before a line of tanks during the 1989 pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square.
While his cartoon was rejected by The Age, Leunig published the drawing on Instagram, triggering a backlash from the proponents of vaccine mandates.
Shortly after the controversy erupted, Leuning, who worked at the newspaper for over 20 years, was told that his services as a political cartoonist were no longer needed. The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, reportedly told the artist that he was “out of touch” with readers before notifying him of his dismissal.