Escape Brexit with Down Under holiday, Australia tells UK

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Pop star Kylie Minogue and other famous Australians appear in the tourism ad

Pop star Kylie Minogue and other famous Australians appear in the tourism ad (AFP Photo/Andrew Parsons)

Sydney (AFP) - Australia has launched a new tourism campaign starring Kylie Minogue that aims to attract British tourists fatigued by Brexit -- despite the devastating bushfires that have raged Down Under for months.

The three-minute advert, which premiered ahead of the Queen's televised Christmas Day address in Britain, starts with a primly dressed Minogue apparently at Sandringham, the monarch's country home.

But the set soon disappears to show the pop star under blue skies on a beach of the same name in Australia.

The sun-soaked scenes featuring cuddly koalas and quokkas that follow stand in contrast to global media coverage of the fires that have unleashed toxic smoke over Sydney and other major cities.

Scientists say several weather phenomena, influenced by climate change, have come together to make this spring-summer bushfire season among the worst on record, destroying an area the size of Belgium.

Under-fire Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently cancelled a much-criticised Hawaiian holiday due to the crisis, while his conservative government has fiercely defended Australia's vast coal industry.

Minogue's "Matesong" video also features world tennis number one Ashleigh Barty, Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe and ex-cricketer Shane Warne.

Timed to reach Brits facing another cold winter, the ad is part of a three-year global Tourism Australia campaign worth Aus$38 million ($26 million).

London-based Minogue begins the ad by singing "This year's been tough and confusing, but progress is moving" before antipodean comedian Adam Hills jumps in with "Well, at a glacial pace".

"But all of Australia loves you, and we'll never judge you," the 51-year-old former "Neighbours" star continues.

The video later alludes to Brexit again with the lyrics "negotiating tricky trade deals is a shocker", alongside upbeat images of surfers, sports grounds and wine-tasting.

However, some internet users noted an incongruity between the reality of the bushfire crisis and the advertised clear skies and healthy marsupials, as media reports show badly burned koalas losing large swathes of their habitat.

"Bad timing. Very. Bad. Timing. Australia is on fire, in drought, extreme heatwaves. And if the main Aussie stars of this ad... love Australia so much - why do they live in the UK?" wrote one Twitter user.

The ad did attract some fans, though, with another Twitter user writing: "Nothing can beat cuteness level Kylie and koalas".

Tourism Australia said the Aus$15 million campaign was its largest investment in the British market for more than a decade.

"At a time of uncertainty in the UK, the light-hearted musical tribute represents a symbolic hand of friendship from Australia that warmly celebrates the deep and long-standing ties that exist between the two countries," the marketing agency said in a statement.

It is not the first time an advert promoting tourism in Australia has divided viewers. In October, another star-studded advert also featuring Kylie was ridiculed for its awkward use of the pun "philausophy".