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Hours after taking part in a pro-vaccination campaign, Guy Sebastian issued an apology.

On Sunday night, over 400 Australian artists, industry figures and live music businesses banded together in support of one message: "Stop the interruptions."

In a campaign led by the newly formed Live Industry Venues & Entertainment (LIVE) Alliance, big names including Jimmy Barnes, Amy Shark, Powderfinger, Guy Sebastian, Tim Minchin and more called on Australians to get vaccinated in a bid for live events to return across the country.

"With a vaccinated nation, live events can and will happen. We’ve missed them. They’ve missed us. Let’s roll up our sleeves, get vaxxed and bring them back," a campaign statement read.

"Every jab makes a difference, and every Australian can play their part."

Here's exactly how to talk to anti-vaxxers. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

By Monday night, however, musician Guy Sebastian had backtracked on his support for the campaign.

In an Instagram video, Sebastian claimed that the campaign had been shared on his social media pages without his "direct involvement". 

"While I, like everyone else in my industry, want things to get going again, it is not my role to communicate in the way that post was communicated," Sebastian stated.

"I would never ever tell people what to do when it comes to their personal health choices," he continued.

"I'm very sensitive of it, not only at a public level but even in my personal life with people who have had circumstances that they have to consider when making these choices."

Sebastian finished the video message with an apology to his followers.

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"I just want to say I'm really sorry. It was not a post that was communicated with love or compassion, which I feel is what's needed when it comes to addressing things like vaccinations," he said.

"I just wanted to clarify that so that I could speak my truth and people know how I actually feel. So lots of love."

Over the last 18 months, Australia's live entertainment industry has been crushed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While sporting events have predominately continued across the country during the pandemic, live music events and festivals have been cancelled repeatedly due to snap lockdowns and border closures.

To put it bluntly, Australia's music industry is on its knees. 

ARIA-winning artists have resorted to new jobs. Incomes have vanished. And droves of people have left the industry all together. 

And yet, when faced with a campaign to get the Australian music industry back to normal, Guy Sebastian, one of the biggest names in that very industry, apologised for endorsing the one thing that will allow that industry to flourish once again.

In a statement to news.com.au on Tuesday morning, Sebastian further backed his apology video, telling the publication: "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."

In response, Sebastian has faced fervent criticism for his stance.

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"Get the splinters out of your arse, get off the fence," Ray Hadley said on 2GB on Tuesday morning. 

"Grow a set, Guy. And don’t let those who are perhaps on your website saying, 'I’ll never listen to you again. Won’t buy your CDs. Won’t go on Spotify ever again' [to get to you].

"That was a weak-kneed, ordinary response when the vast bulk of the people in your industry are desperate to get back to work and the only way they get back to work is through double-vaccination."

Similarly, on social media, industry peers shared their disappointment over Sebastian's move.

As Ben Lee put it: "To be honest, this is actually a really sad example of what happens when your career is dependent on trying to be all things to all people."

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It would be naïve to assume that a pro-vaccination campaign wouldn't receive some level of backlash from the anti-vax community. At a time when Australia feels more divided than ever, it was virtually inevitable.

Comedian Tom Gleeson shared that he had faced "a whole day of anti vaxxers telling me on Facebook they’re unfollowing me" after sharing the #VaxTheNation campaign on social media.

And if Sebastian's apology tells us anything, it's just how swift and brutal the backlash was.

After just 24 hours of that backlash, Sebastian, a musician who has long been an outspoken advocate for the Australian music industry, decided to apologise... for advocating for his industry.

While Sebastian has since clarified that he's received the vaccine, there's no doubt that the singer's swift back-pedalling sends a message.

As hip hop artist Urthboy put it: "Some artists are expending a huge amount of their cultural capital challenging audiences to get vaxxed. So much respect. And then there’s Guy Sebastian, one our most successful artists, who sounds like he agrees with the science but is terrified of losing his anti-vax [followers]."

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For the Australian music industry – and the nation as a whole – vaccination is the way out of this. As playwright Tim Minchin, who also took part in the #VaxTheNation campaign, put it, Australia needs "a wave of positive messaging" around vaccination. We need a common goal.

But when figures like Guy Sebastian attempt to placate an anti-vaxx or vaccine hesitant portion of his audience, we lose sight of that goal. 

Australia needs simple messaging about vaccines. Get them. They're our pathway out of this. 

Musicians have got their vaccines. Comedians have got their vaccines. That guy you see on television three nights a week has his. And it's time we all join them.

Feature Image: Instagram.

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