Aug 16, 2018

Constituency Statements – Australian Broadcasting Corporation – Thursday, 16 August 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:44): Last night I attended the ABC’s showcase here in Parliament House to demonstrate my strong support for our national public broadcaster, particularly at a time when it’s under attack by those opposite, in the government. In the words of Radio Birdman’s ‘Aloha Steve & Danno’, I say to the ABC, ‘Get out an APB and purchase the broadcast rights to Descent into the Maelstrom, the Radio Birdman story.’

The creation of the band by Deniz Tek and Rob Younger in Sydney in 1974 cemented the foundation of Australian punk rock, laid in the very same year by Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper of The Saints, a Brisbane band. Radio Birdman’s visceral performances, attended by thousands, are an important part of Australian musical history—not to mention the release of their first full-length studio album Radios Appear in 1977 to critical acclaim.

Through the cunning use of archival and present-day footage spliced together, Director Jonathan Sequeira has managed to capture the band’s journey and outlaw reputation on film—a journey that was also integral to the development of the independent music scene here in Australia. Descent into the Maelstrom chronicles the beginning of the Sydney punk scene, from the perspective of the band, including a look at The Funhouse, a venue managed by Radio Birdman and used as a base of operations of sorts, found in the back room of a pub in Taylor Square off Oxford Street and notorious for hosting any and all groups with similar musical tastes and on-stage charisma.

The band’s significant contribution to culture and the arts in this country should be celebrated. Descent into the Maelstrom has been called the greatest Australian music documentary, and I strongly believe that the public should be given the chance to make their own assessment of this. As such, I implore the ABC to reconsider acquiring the rights to the film and for it to be broadcast to the nation free-to-air. Indeed, keep The Funhouse alive! A decision by the ABC to show this documentary will have all contemporary music fans singing, ‘Yeah hup’!