Australian Ballet China Tour announcement > Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria

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18-June-2018

Australian Ballet China Tour announcement with executive director Libby Christie and artistic director David McAllister AM

Parliament House
11:00 am
18 June 2018

E & OE

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

CHRISTIE: 

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.

 

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 School. 

 

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 very excited. 

 

FIFIELD:       

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. 

 

JOURNALIST:

Minister, how important is this in establishing apositive relationships between Australia and China in terms of the whole soft diplomacy side of things?

 

FIFIELD:       

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 with China.

 

JOURNALIST:

Minister, should Optus give the World Cup games back to SBS?

 

FIFIELD:       

No more questions about The Australian Ballet or the tour? Thank you.

 

JOURNALIST:

Should Optus give World Cup matches back to SBS until it sorts out its IT issues and can actually broadcast?

 

FIFIELD:       

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. 

 

JOURNALIST:

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?

 

FIFIELD:       

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 matches.

 

JOURNALIST:

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?

 

FIFIELD:       

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. 

 

JOURNALIST:

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?

 

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

Should the rights be taken away?

 

FIFIELD:       

Well the purchase of rights from sporting organisations is a matter between those sporting organisations and the platforms that purchased those rights.

 

JOURNALIST:

Are you disappointed though? Are you a soccer fan?

 

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

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?

 

FIFIELD:       

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 anti-syphoning list. 

 

JOURNALIST:

The ACCC, should they get involved given people have been forking out to watch black screens around the country?

 

FIFIELD:       

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 promised. 

 

JOURNALIST:

The ABC: is it biased?

 

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

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 internet?

 

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

When you say comparable, what do you mean by that?

 

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

So you’ll allow users to pay more than city counterparts at the end of this wholesale price review?

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

Minister, isn't 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?

FIFIELD:       

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.

JOURNALIST:

Can you rule out substantial cuts to the ABC? There are some on the Senate crossbench who would like to see that very much.

FIFIELD:       

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.

 

JOURNALIST:

How frustrating 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?

FIFIELD:       

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.

Thank you.

[ends]


 Authorised by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Liberal Party of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra.