Guy Sebastian has shared a video saying he disagrees with the messaging of the newly launched #VaxTheNation campaign, claiming that the industry-wide call backing COVID-19 vaccination was shared through his social media channels without his “direct involvement”.
Spearheaded by the Live Industry Venues and Entertainment Alliance (comprising APRA AMCOS, ARIA, Mushroom Group, Live Nation and more), #VaxTheNation made its debut yesterday (September 6), with over 400 Australian artists, promoters, industry bodies and other workers urging Australians to get vaccinated so that live music can return to the country.
The primary focus of the campaign is a 60-second advertisement featuring clips from past festivals, soundtracked to the Powderfinger song ‘My Happiness’. Alongside its TV premiere, the video was shared to social media pages belonging to a wide range of artists and organisations – including Sebastian’s.
In a statement posted to his Instagram yesterday, Sebastian said that although #VaxTheNation was conceptualised “with the best of intentions for our live music industry, which has been absolutely decimated, trying to find a pathway forward so that we can all assemble together again”, he doesn’t agree with its messaging.
Sebastian said he had no say in the video being posted to his social media channels, and that he believes “it was not a post that communicated with love or compassion, which I feel is what’s needed when it comes to addressing things like vaccinations”.
“Whilst, like everybody else in my industry, I want things to get going again, it is not my role to communicate in a way that that post was communicating,” Sebastian said.
“I would never ever tell people what to do when it comes to their personal health choices. I’m very sensitive of it, not only on a public level but even in my personal life, with people who have circumstances that they have to consider when making these choices.”
Watch his full statement below:
Sebastian still supports #VaxTheNation, a representative for the campaign told NME, and in a new statement the singer confirmed he “support[s] the music industry initiatives to revive our industry” and clarified that he has gotten “double vaccinated”.
In a statement to NME, Sebastian said, “There is no confusion, I made the personal decision to be double vaccinated. I support the music industry initiatives to revive our industry, however, I personally don’t believe it is my place to deal in absolutes to tell people what to do in regards to their personal health choices. We need to remember to communicate with empathy and understanding. This has always been my goal.”
When contacted by NME, a representative for #VaxTheNation said: “We all miss our loved ones – our friends, our family, and being able to gather again. We all want to get back to the magic of live events. #VaxTheNation is not a political campaign tied to any Government, and we welcome open conversation.
“The campaign is self-funded by the industry and the position of the LIVE Alliance (Live Industry Venues and Entertainment Alliance) is that high vaccination rates are the only way to get the show back on the road. We are encouraging people to seek professional health advice and make an informed choice.”
Last year, Sebastian appeared as a spokesperson for the federal government’s $250million arts relief package – a move he first defended in the wake of criticism, then earlier this year expressed regret for, saying he was “embarrassed” to be used as “a prop for the government”.
Sebastian also announced last month that he was writing a “musical movie” after being inspired by a book written by the author of Eat, Pray, Love.