Australian cartoonist Bill Leak has died

Screenshot/ YouTube

Newspaper cartoonist Bill Leak has died. He was 61.

The Australian newspaper said Leak, who won nine Walkley awards and 19 Stanleys for his work, died in hospital of a suspected heart attack.

Paul Whittaker, the editor in chief of The Australian, said Leak was a giant in his field and “a towering figure for more than two decades”.

Last year Leak fought a complaint under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act over one of his cartoons which showed an Aboriginal with a beer can unable to remember his son’s name when questioned by a policeman.

The complaint was later withdrawn.

Leak, in an interview on the ABC’s Lateline program, said: “I have been hammered with this ever since the cartoon was published. But I honestly say to you that when the accusations of racism were directed at me, the only word I can use to express how I felt was just totally bewildered.”

His first thought was: How could anyone interpret the cartoon as racist?

The cartoon was drawn in response to reports on the treatment of children at the Northern Territory’s Don Dale detention centre.

“My concern was for these children and I think right from the get go, even as a child, I think I have always been a very colour-blind person,” Leak said.

See him at work in the video below.

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