• Transcript, E&OE
Topics: Australia’s nation brand, new defence announcement
01 July 2020

Matthew Pantelis: Well it’s a case of the wattle replacing the kangaroo as Australia’s emblem, I suppose, being sold to the world. The National Brand Advisory Council has put up the suggestion. The emblem is- it looks like a wattle, it’s kind of digitalised though and you look at it – I see comments on social media, people saying it looks like coronavirus. But it’s gold, there’s lots of dots around it, there’s a little splash of a different shade of gold going through the middle of it diagonally across the whole thing which looks like the sun is shining behind it. It looks really good, if you know what it is. And I just wonder around the world if people will know what it is? In the middle of the words or the letters AU for Australia.

The man who ticked off on this is Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator for South Australia of course. Senator, Minister, good morning.

Simon Birmingham: Good morning Matthew. Very well, thank you. Good to speak with you again.

Matthew Pantelis: You are obviously enamoured of this.

Simon Birmingham: Well Matthew, I think it’s probably important to reassure listeners first and foremost what it’s not doing – it’s not replacing the Australian Made logo and the Australian Made kangaroo. That continues to be used, supported. In fact, the Morrison Government is currently spending around $5 million in support of the Australian Made kangaroo and making sure that it is better used, better recognised.

What we are doing in conjunction with Australian Made is just shifting and modernising the colour palette, the kangaroo a little bit to reflect the gold that is used in this wattle. So it’s sticking very much with green and gold theme. But currently people would see it is as a bit more green and yellow, and we’re going at a deeper, richer gold, a deeper richer green as part of that shift to the Australian Made kangaroo. And it’s about having a consistency that when we’re turning up to trade shows or different events around the world there’s an overarching imagery of Australia and how it’s presented. And then of course, within that there’ll be a whole mob of kangaroos there – be it the Australian Made logo, the Qantas logo, the Wallabies logo, the Tourism Australia logo that features the kangaroo. So it’s about trying to bring some unity to the way in which we present the nation to the world.

Matthew Pantelis: Is there a problem then of too many logos? I mean, Qantas need their own obviously – it’s not about that. But the Australian- emblems of Australian Made and now this one competing against each other. Well, which one do we have?

Simon Birmingham: So that’s kind of the problem that the Nation Brand Council sought to try and tackle and in the end the kangaroo is appropriately used by so many different entities and bodies in their representation of Australia – as it should be, as it will continue to be. But what they thought was there needs to be some way, so that when we are going to those international trade shows and different events, there’s a common style that’s sort of overlaid in the presentation of Australia that can bring all of the different kangaroos and other types of logos together. That’s the approach that’s being taken here and it’s in no way going to substitute the coat of arms or our formal representation of the country in that sort of sense. It is simply really about a style guide for how the different marketing elements of those trade missions are rolled out.

Matthew Pantelis: You must be concerned though, and some people looking at it, thinking the first image that comes to mind is coronavirus.

Simon Birmingham: Again, it’s used in a range of different ways and what I encourage people over time is to see how it’s applied in totality. This is not some single logo that we are about to go out and use – it is about a colour palette, a story of how we present Australia, using the wattle imagery in a modern way to bring those different elements together. Now, I don’t hold myself out as some advertising or marketing guru, that’s what we have experts for but I think people will see that is a stylistic, modern representation of Australia. But most importantly, one that doesn’t seek to try to get every Australian state, or every Australian business, or every Australian government department to change the way they look. It’s simply trying to provide an overarching framework that can allow us to have some consistency in our approach. Because it is one of the common refrains of criticism that we’ve had over the years, which is that each of our states go out and they present themselves in an entirely different way. We know we’re not going to be able to stop them having their own campaigns, their own imagery – but we do want them to try to present Australia in a more consistent light whilst still promoting themselves.

Matthew Pantelis: Just while I have you, Minister, in a different aspect of your portfolio. The Prime Minister today announcing this massive investment in Defence. Are you concerned with how China, as Trade Minister and Tourism Minister too for that matter, might react to the announcement today?

Simon Birmingham: There’s no reason for any of our partners or neighbours to have any concern about this. This is simply Australia ensuring that our Defence Forces are equipped with modern capability, relevant to the potential threat that we may face into the future. And we do that just as we would expect others in the region to do so from their own perspective.

Matthew Pantelis: Alright. Tourism Minister, Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, thank you for your time.

Simon Birmingham: Thank you Matthew. My pleasure.