Singer Guy Sebastian called in to Ray Hadley’s radio program on Tuesday morning, prompting a tense 10-minute chat between the two stars.
Sebastian called the show in an attempt to clear up his stance on COVID-19 vaccinations, after he deleted a social media message urging Aussies to get the jab and shared an apology video.
The star’s initial pro-vaccination message was part of the VaxTheNation campaign, which has seen leaders in the entertainment industry encourage everyone to get vaccinated so that live entertainment could return.
But, the initial message was deleted before many had a chance to see it, with the singer issuing a widely-criticised apology saying it was posted without his knowledge and that he would “never, ever tell people what to do when it comes to their personal health choices”.
Calling into the Hadley’s show just before midday, Sebastian faced even more criticism from the radio host.
“I’m very disappointed in you, to tell you the truth,” Hadley said, who had earlier urged Sebastian to “get the splinters out of your arse; get off the fence”.
“I’m equally disappointed in you Ray,” Sebastian replied. “I think it’s a very false narrative and you’ve actually missed the point of what I’m saying.
“I haven’t said I don’t support vaccinations – I’m double jabbed myself. My point is that there are people who I have personal relationships with that also fall into a category of consideration. I personally choose to be inclusive of people who have genuine reasons – I’m talking about teachers who’ve taught for 25 years that can’t teach, I’m talking about musicians and crew who have legitimate medical reasons why it’s a much more difficult situation.”
But, Hadley countered that Sebastian did not mention those with “legitimate medical reasons” in his apology video.
“In my message, I said I support the initiative, I just don’t think it should be done in a way to shame the people who don’t fall into an anti-vax category,” the singer argued.
After replaying the full apology video on-air, Hadley asked the singer if he was now clarifying that he was referring to those with medical conditions and not anti-vaxxers in the clip.
“I think you’re ignoring my statement altogether, especially at the end where we say we need to consider people’s specific circumstances … I’ve been very clear on my stance, I’m pro-vaxx. I’m against things that are ill-informed,” Sebastian explained.
“The comment that was posted on my behalf dealt in absolutes, and I’m not about that. I am with the campaign. I have cancelled my tour three times – I more than anybody want us to get going.
“But personally, I want to consider the make-up artist I know who has a very serious disease who can’t work unless she gets the jab. We can have this conversation without lumping those people in with the anti-vax people.”
When asked who had shared the post on his behalf, Sebastian said: “It was my team … I was mortified that it was worded that way. We’ve all got people that are personal to us and I don’t want to hurt them.”
Hadley mentioned the criticism Sebastian’s apology received, including a tweet from fellow Australian singer Ben Lee, and Sebastian responded explaining that Lee was “only weighing in on a narrative that’s already been set, which wasn’t the correct narrative”.
This is despite the fact that Lee was responding to the full apology video that was reposted to Twitter.
“I know who I am and I know my heart in that video – I don’t think I need to clarify myself,” Sebastian said.
“Well I think you do. I’ve given you the opportunity, thanks for your time – I still think you’re wrong,” Hadley cut in, quickly ending the chat.
“Good luck to you, you’re working, but your colleagues are very upset given you’re working on The Voice and they can’t get a quid anywhere. In this case, you can’t be wishy-washy, I don’t think.”
In a statement to news.com.au, Sebastian said there should be “no confusion” about his stance on vaccinations.
“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,” he said.
In a statement, a spokesperson from #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. Head to our website to read more about informed consent.”
This article first appeared on Over60.