AUSTRALIANS donated nearly $10,000 an hour on Wednesday to reinstate an Australia Day billboard pulled after a social media backlash, in a movement hailed an emphatic victory for tolerance over bigotry.
Now, opponents of the Melbourne billboard face seeing the image of two young girls in hijabs celebrating Australia Day in every capital city in the lead-up to January 26.
A crowd-funding campaign to return the billboard passed $100,000 last night, less than 12 hours after it began.
On Tuesday morning it continued to climb, reaching almost $113,000 at 7.30am.
The vast majority of funds donated came from people who contributed just $10, $20 or $50 at a time.
Now, campaign co-ordinator Dee Madigan said the cash will be used to fund multiple billboards featuring the image of the smiling young girls in the lead-up to Australia Day on Thursday.
"We are overwhelmed with the support and have increased our target so that there can be multiple billboards across the country in time for Australia Day," Ms Madigan wrote in an update posted to the fundraising page on Wednesday night.
The image was used to promote the Victorian Government's Australia Day Festival in Melbourne and was one of several taken at last year's event to promote this year's festival.
On Tuesday, Victorian multicultural affairs minister Robin Scott announced the billboard had been removed, after the outdoor advertising company was inundated with threats from people who opposed its use.
The threats came after a social media storm among members of far right social media groups, who slammed the image as "un-Australian".
Opponents celebrated the removal of the billboard as a win on Tuesday.
The general consensus of Facebook commenters seemed to be that images of beaches, barbecues and beer were the only true way to reflect our sacred national day.
"Good. Should have had a BBQ at the beach scene instead. That's more Australian," said one commenter celebrating the withdrawal of the billboard.
"The problem with the billboard is it isn't representative of the Australian community," another said.
"Good riddance to that horrible sign," one woman posted.
"Those hijabs are offensive to me because of what they stand for."
"They deserve abuse & threats," wrote another.
"I hope it was directed at the incompetent idiot scum bag who designed this absolute lie and insult to real Australian's (sic)."
"Good, should have never been put up there in the first place, it doesn't represent Australia Day or Australia in the slightest. In a way it was advertising a religion and religion has nothing to do with Australia Day," said another commenter.
Australians supporting the return of the billboard were equally as emphatic, however.
Ms Madigan started the crowd-funding campaign with a target of just $20,000, which was smashed within a couple of hours.
It was then raised to $50,000, then $100,000.
"Holy s*** we did it. Australians are decent and tolerant and generous!" Ms Madigan posted after the fundraising campaign passed the $100,000 mark on Wednesday.
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