Peter Garrett has commented on recent allegations of toxic behaviour and misconduct at Sony Music Australia, Midnight Oil‘s longtime label.
Following reports earlier this year that Sony Music’s head office in the United States was investigating allegations of discrimination, bullying and harassment in the Australian office, Denis Handlin was reportedly ‘fired’ from his position as CEO in June after nearly 30 years in the role and over 50 years with the company.
Further allegations of misconduct and a toxic workplace culture came to light earlier this month in an exposé on Four Corners, whose producers reportedly interviewed over 100 current and former employees of Sony.
No Sony Music Australia artists appeared on the programme which aired October 11, with Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour claiming on Twitter that none would talk on the record about the alleged misconduct.
Four Corners contacted many Sony artists. None of them would talk on the record about the decades long scandal within Sony Music. #4Corners
— Sally Neighbour (@neighbour_s) October 11, 2021
Midnight Oil have been signed to Sony via subsidiaries CBS/Columbia since their 1981 album ‘Place Without A Postcard’. Asked about the allegations made on Four Corners in a new interview with The Australian, frontman Peter Garrett said that although the band hadn’t been personally “mistreated” by anyone at the label, nor did they witness “any of that behaviour”, they “strongly support” those who went public.
As The Industry Observer notes, Garrett said: “We were never mistreated by anyone at Sony and we didn’t see any of that behaviour. It goes without saying that we oppose bullying; any form, anywhere. So for those company staff that have spoken up, and whether they’re people that were there before or those [there] at the moment, we would strongly support them.”
The singer, activist and former politician also backed up former employees of Sony who, when interviewed by Four Corners, claimed that Sony’s New York head office had long been aware of Handlin’s alleged behaviour and called on the office to take accountability.
“We would say pretty clearly that the behaviour was inexcusable, and that Sony New York needs to step up. They were aware, it turns out, of what was happening,” Garrett claimed.
“They need to support their staff, but also they need to do something serious. I think they’ve got some sort of investigation underway, but they need to take responsibility for their governance failures.”
In a statement shared by Four Corners, a spokesperson from Sony Music Entertainment said: “We take all allegations of bullying, harassment and other inappropriate behaviour from our employees very seriously and investigate them vigorously. Only recently did claims surface and we are examining them expeditiously.”
In his own statement to the programme’s team, Handlin wrote: “I have always provided support and encouragement to women in the industry and personally championed diversity. I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner. At any time I was made aware of this sort of behaviour I took action to ensure that it was stopped and didn’t occur again.”
Following the Four Corners programme, Handlin had several of his accolades stripped, including his honorary Queensland Music Award, his ARIA Icon Award, and his APRA AMCOS Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services.
As for Midnight Oil, the band made their return earlier this week with ‘Rising Seas’, a new single that takes aim at the Australian government’s inaction on climate change. It’s the first taste of the Oils’ 13th album, which they had intended on launching at Bluesfest earlier this month before the festival was rescheduled to next year.
The new record – tentatively titled ‘Show Of Hands’, but officially unannounced – follows on from their 2020 album ‘The Makarrata Project’, which featured a slew of collaborators including Jessica Mauboy, Alice Skye, Dan Sultan, Tasman Keith, Kev Carmody and more.