Australia was invited to be the interval act at Eurovision 2014. Jessica Mauboy did a suitably kitsch fun performance with koalas, a spaceman and the Aboriginal flag. It was a nice gesture of Jon Ola Sand (we all love him down here!) to acknowledge the enthusiasm and loyalty Australia has for Eurovision. So far so good.
The following year, Australia was invited as a ‘one-off’ to participate in Eurovision to celebrate Eurovision’s 60th anniversary. Again, a warm gesture from the EBU. It was odd to see Australia there but a nice way to include us in the 60 year milestone.
In 2016 we were invited again. This is where I don’t understand at all. This time we didn’t go straight through to the Grand Final like Guy Sebastian did, we had to go through the semi-finals. Which suggested to me that we were ‘in’ ie being treated like all the other participants. Why? We shouldn’t have even been there. Dami Im did an amazing job but that’s not the point and actually made things worse. How did Russia feel about this imposter muscling them out of first place? I felt terrible for Sergey. Eurovision lost its way for me in 2016.
Australia is not in Europe. It doesn’t make sense.
I am ashamed that we are in Eurovision. I wouldn’t be surprised if the smaller nations like Latvia and Moldova hate our guts because we have burst onto the scene rudely, elbowing everyone aside as if we’re part of the Big Five. Yet another competing nation means the voting gets harder for countries that aren’t part of a bloc voting scenario. I am appalled that Australia has gone along with this. We should have graciously bowed out after 2015, thanked everyone profusely and gone home.
Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang were the perfect hosts for the Eurovision broadcasts in Australia. Pre-Australian involvement they were the amusing add-ons, performers welcomed them into their dressing rooms and had lots of fun on camera because Australia was looking in on the action. The fresh perspective that Julia and Sam could give because we weren’t competing was priceless. But as soon as Australia began to compete, that sense of fun vanished. Australia now had the same media access, the same rules. A lost opportunity gone forever.
As an Australian, I wholeheartedly apologise for our involvement. It makes me squirm. Eurovision hasn’t been the same since.
Read what Eurovision historian John Kennedy O’Connor has to say about Australia here.