The New Year has arrived and Eurovision season is in full swing! Five countries have now chosen their songs, with many more to be selected in the near future. The European Broadcasting Union has announced that 39 countries have confirmed participation in Vienna, but there is growing speculation within the Eurovision fan community of a potential Australian debut. As an Australian myself, I am living for the idea of Australia FINALLY competing in Eurovision, but lesbihonest: it’s never gonna happen. Why not let us get involved competitively in the contest? Let’s review the main arguments.
1. Australia isn’t part of Europe
Many Australians believe that if countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Israel can compete, Australians can too. But it’s just not the case! The ‘Euro’ in EUROvision is representative of the European Broadcasting Union, not Europe as a continent, which allows several Middle Eastern and Northern African broadcasters the right to compete in the contest.
The reality is that Australia is geographically further away from Europe than India — and New Delhi isn’t fielding a singer in Vienna.
However, Australia is a country rich in European culture. The first fleet from Britain settled in Australia in 1788, and since then we have had a heavy influx of immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Greece and the former Yugoslavia. FACT: Melbourne (my home city) has the largest Greek speaking population outside of Greece, and you can bet some of our Greek neighbours love them some Kalomira, and that ain’t no mystery for you. But that’s not enough to sing at ESC.
Australians can, however, perform as guests. Jessica Mauboy was the interval act during the second semi-final at Eurovision 2014:
2. Australia doesn’t pay into the EBU
In Australia, we have two television networks that are associate members of the EBU, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS)—who televise Eurovision in Australia every year—and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Both of these networks regularly televise shows and news programs from around the world, but because of Australia’s geographic location, it’s impossible for Australia to gain full EBU membership.
Even if we could, I doubt the Australian Government would want to pay the fees to become a full member of the EBU. They would rather cut funding from the SBS and ABC.
Australians can, however, sing for other countries. Gina G. represented the UK in 1996:
3. Australia isn’t practical
Australia is also an incredibly difficult location to hold the contest if we won. It would be a spectacular show (expensive too, I’m sure), but the costs involved for smaller participating countries would be extremely high. And we would’ve have to hold the contest at 5am local time so the European audience could watch the show in prime time as usual. Inconvenient!
Do I think an Australian entry would be cool? Yes. Do I think Kylie Minogue would look great on the Eurovision stage? Yes. But it’s really not a feasible idea. Perhaps we can just lend a hand to the UK? After all, they could probably use a little help…