Australian Ballet China Tour
announcement with executive director Libby Christie and artistic director David
18 June 2018
E & OE
Well, it’s great to be here with Libby
Christie and David McAllister from The Australian Ballet and also fabulous
dancers, Emma and Sophie, to announce that the Australian Government is
providing $100,000 to support The Australian Ballet’s tour of China in October this
year. They will be performing David McAllister’s the Sleeping
Beauty and also Giselle. This is the ninth occasion
that The Australian Ballet has toured China since it first did so in 1980. This
is an important part of the cultural relationship between Australia and China.
The Australian Ballet will be doing a number of important activities behind the
scenes, working with dancers and helping to teach people in China. So, this is
a tremendous tour and we’re very pleased as a government that we’re able to
support it. I’d now like to ask Libby to say a few words then David. Libby.
Thank you, Minister. Well, thank you
very much. The Australian Ballet is tremendously proud of the role that we play
as cultural ambassadors for our country and as the Minister said this will be
our ninth tour to China and we’re tremendously grateful to the Australian
Government for providing essential support for this tour, as they have for all
of the eight tours that we’ve made to China since we first went in 1980. So,
thank you very much again. It’s wonderful to be able to represent the country
and with the partnership of the Australian Government, also we’ve been able to
attract partners from the private sector. So, this year we’re very pleased to
be able to take with us to China - Qantas, Australia Post, La Trobe University,
who have extended their relationship with us to support this China tour, and
also Morgan Stanley. The bilateral relationships that we’re able to help our
partners to develop through our touring and cultural activities in China I
think have been regarded and recognised as valuable to everybody and we look
forward to working with our 2018 partners in China this year.
When we go to China, we’ve also been
made to feel very welcome by the representatives of China, the People’s
Republic of China, in Australia. So, I’d like to thank our friends from the
embassy here in China, the consulates in Sydney and Melbourne, who have been so
interested in our tour and welcoming to us.
Touring to China isn’t a small exercise.
When we go in October, we’ll have nine shipping container loads full of
costumes, almost 20,000 costumes and costume parts, and sets and props. We’ll
have around about 130 people touring with us: dancers and musicians. We’ll have
some medical team people. We’ll have people from the wardrobe section helping
us as we tour. We’ll have people from our technical and production teams. As I
said, it’s no small exercise touring a company like The Australian Ballet to
China, but it’s- and you might even ask why do we do it? Well, for The
Australian Ballet, being seen performing on world stages by discerning
sophisticated audiences is a really important way for us to benchmark our
standards. And Chinese audiences are very sophisticated. Beijing and Shanghai
are major cultural capitals. When we return to Australia, after this tour, we
will have been performing live for about 20,000 people in Beijing, Nanjing and
Shanghai, and thanks to our relationship with the ABC and their relationship
with Shanghai Media Group, millions of people in China will have seen the
broadcast performance of this ballet.
But now, to tell you exactly what we’re
going to be doing in China, and to tell you all about the ballet performances,
here’s David McAllister.
Thanks, Libby and thank you, Minister.
We’ll be performing as you see from our two dancers here, The Sleeping
Beauty, which is a new production the company did in 2015, and it will be
its first international tour. So we will be excited to be taking that production
for the first time out of Australia. And we’ll also be doing Maina
Gielgud's Giselle, which actually we have toured around the
world. It’s been to Tokyo, New York, London. So, we’re really excited to take
it to Nanjing as well. But it’s also a wonderful opportunity to dance in some
of the great theatres of China - the National Centre for Performing Arts in
Beijing and the Shanghai Grand Theatre are two theatres that we’ve actually
performed in before, and it’s wonderful to maintain that relationship.
These productions are both very big and
lavish productions, so I think they will reflect well on the quality of work
that we do here in Australia. And we have great relationships with our
counterparts in China. The National Ballet of China and the Shanghai Ballet are
both companies that we’ve worked with very closely and actually we have,
arriving, a group from the Beijing Academy. We have three dancers in our
company who trained through the Beijing Academy and also the Australian Ballet
So we’re thrilled to be welcoming them
this week as well. So the relationship, the ballet between Australia and China
is very strong. So we’re really looking forward to staging this production. And
especially out three Chinese dancers, who get to go home and perform. So we’re
The Australian Ballet is world class.
We’re immensely proud of them and it’s terrific that the world will get to see
them perform at their best. I’ll take your questions on the tour and the
Australian Ballet first, and then any other questions.
Minister, how important is this in
establishing apositive relationships between Australia and China in terms of
the whole soft diplomacy side of things?
Well cultural diplomacy is incredibly
important. We have great people to people relationships with China and one of
the important underpinnings of that is our cultural engagement with China and
The Australian Ballet has been at the forefront of that since they first toured
in 1980. And this is the Australia Ballet, with our support, doing what we’ve
done before and that is helping to further reinforce that cultural relationship
Minister, should Optus give the World
Cup games back to SBS?
No more questions about The Australian
Ballet or the tour? Thank you.
Should Optus give World Cup matches back
to SBS until it sorts out its IT issues and can actually broadcast?
The relationship between Optus and SBS
when it comes to the World Cup is a commercial one between those two
organisations. We do have Socceroo matches and the final of the World Cup on
the anti-syphoning list, so those events will be free-to-air on SBS.
Is it good enough though that every
other match is seemingly at the whim of Optus’ failing IT systems? Is that good
enough for Australian World Cup fans?
I think the really important thing is,
that the World Cup final and those matches involving the Socceroos are on
free-to-air and will be available through SBS. It’s for Optus to talk to their
platform and how they will fix that to ensure that people can view the other
But as Communications Minister, Mr Fifield,
what’s it say in 2018 that Optus customers that believed they had the promise
of the World Cup on their digital devices, and frankly it’s been an abject
failure? You must be concerned about that as minister?
Well all platforms have the obligation
to deliver to consumers the product that consumers purchase. So the onus is
absolutely on Optus to deliver to consumers, to their customers, that which
they have undertaken to deliver.
Sports fans must be unhappy they are now
paying for the Big Bash, for cricket, and now they pay and they still can’t get
the World Cup?
Well, as I say, it’s for the platforms
who have the rights to certain events to deliver those as they have undertaken
to do so for their customers.
Should the rights be taken away?
Well the purchase of rights from
sporting organisations is a matter between those sporting organisations and the
platforms that purchased those rights.
Are you disappointed though? Are you a
I’m an AFL man, it’s fair to say, but
look, I can absolutely understand those who are passionate about the world
game, can see what they want to see when they want to see it.
Minister, you removed all World Cup
matches apart from Socceroos’ games and the final from the anti-syphoning list
last year, do you take any responsibility for this failure?
The trimming of the anti-syphoning list
occurred after these arrangements were entered into. So the division of matches
between SBS and Optus is completely unrelated to subsequent changes to the
The ACCC, should they get involved given
people have been forking out to watch black screens around the country?
Well the ACCC is an independent
regulatory agency and the ACCC respond to complaints that are lodged with them.
The ACCC also have the option of undertaking inquiries at their own initiative.
But really, what we want to see is Optus deliver the product that it
The ABC: is it biased?
Look, the ABC is a great Australian
institution. It is something that Australians value very highly. It makes an
important contribution to news and current affairs. It’s one of the
underpinnings of media diversity in Australia. And it’s also one of the Commonwealth’s
great contributions to civic journalism. But it’s also important to recognise
that the ABC, according to their Act have an important responsibility to convey
the sciences and to convey the arts. And as Libby Christie said, there is a
great partnership between the Australian Ballet and the ABC. And that’s one of
the things that the ABC does very well, is to support and to convey the arts to
the Australian community.
Minister, on the NBN, the committee
heard last week that the wholesale prices of fixed wireless might be 44 per
cent higher than equivalent pricing for fixed lines. Would you allow rural
broadband users to pay more than their city counterparts for access to the
Well the pricing that there is between
different NBN technologies is comparable and our absolute undertaking is that
the entire nation will be able to access the NBN by 2020. Already, we have more
than half the nation available to access the NBN. That happens through a range
of different technologies. They are fit for purpose and the pricing between the
technologies is comparable.
When you say comparable, what do you
mean by that?
That there is not a huge disparity
between what people pay. The main differentiator of what it is that people pay
their retail service provider on the NBN is the package, the product, that they
purchase from their retailer.
So you’ll allow
users to pay more than city counterparts at the end of this wholesale price
Well, there is a wholesale pricing
review which is underway by, a wholesale access review, underway by the ACCC,
but what we have with the NBN is a great support from metropolitan areas to
non-metropolitan areas to ensure that they can receive the NBN through
satellite and fixed wireless.
it the problem with the ABC that you’ve got, that while you assure us you
wouldn’t ever sell it, the Coalition Government has attacked it so often over
the last five years that it actually sounds very plausible that you’d sell it,
that there is- that you have a plausibility problem?
The ABC isn't
being sold and will never be sold. Any suggestion that that might be the case
represents nothing other than another Labor lie.
Can you rule
out substantial cuts to the ABC? There are some on the Senate crossbench who
would like to see that very much.
Well, the ABC is funded on a triennium or
three-yearly basis. We are not altering the funding to the ABC in the current
triennium We indicated in the Budget that there would be an indexation pause in
the next triennium. That next triennium commences in a years’ time. The ABC
will still receive in excess of a billion dollars a year. It’s important that
the ABC is well resourced. It will continue to be well resourced because as I
say, it is one of the important underpinnings of civic journalism and it’s also
an important underpinning of media diversity.
is it for you that you’re going to- having to answer these questions about
privatising or substantially cutting the ABC, because of members of your very
own party and the motion passed over the weekend?
Well, we have a
division of responsibilities in our party. The organisational party has
responsibility for the selection of parliamentary candidates. And the
parliamentary party has the responsibility for the determination of policy. So
our policy is that the ABC will always be well-resourced and will always remain
in public hands.
Authorised by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Liberal Party of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra.