Thursday, July 11, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Debate Over Motion To Restrict Local Drag Performances

A debate unfolded at a Mackay Regional Council ordinary meeting last month as Councillor George Christensen introduced a motion to categorise events featuring "drag" performances at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre (MECC), as well as other council facilities, as adults-only. This motion aimed to restrict attendance to individuals aged 18 and above, citing concerns over the appropriateness of such performances for young audiences.
Christensen opened the discussion by highlighting what he termed as the potentially sexualised nature of some drag performances aimed at children. He expressed worries about the impact of these performances on minors and their exposure to themes and content that could be deemed inappropriate.
"Drag performances targeted at children are a relatively recent trend and have sparked significant controversy," Christensen noted. "It's our responsibility to safeguard the innocence of childhood and ensure that public spaces maintain standards that are safe and suitable for all ages."
Drawing upon examples from other councils across Australia, such as Hill Shire Council and Cumberland City Council, Christensen pointed to recent decisions where similar events had been restricted to adult-only audiences. He argued that these actions reflected a growing recognition among local governments of the need to protect young audiences from potentially sensitive content.
"This motion is not about censorship; it's about ensuring that these performances are presented in venues appropriate for their content," Christensen emphasised. "We're not banning these performances outright; we're simply proposing age-appropriate restrictions to align with community standards."
In opposition, Councillor Marty Bella countered Christensen's arguments, asserting that the MECC already implemented stringent guidelines to ensure all events, including those featuring drag performances, were age-appropriate. Bella argued against what he viewed as unnecessary government intervention in personal parenting decisions.
"It's not the role of local government to dictate what children can and cannot see," Bella argued. "Parents are best placed to make informed decisions about what is suitable for their children."
Bella also challenged the notion that all drag performances were inherently sexualised, highlighting the diversity within the drag community and the range of performances from light-hearted entertainment to more artistic expressions.
"Drag encompasses a wide spectrum of expression, and not all performances are sexualised or inappropriate for children," Bella stated.
"Sir Barry Humphries, arguably the greatest drag icon of all time—do we now suggest we should have barred children from watching Dame Edna?”
The debate underscored broader concerns about the role of local government in regulating cultural expressions and the delicate balance between community values and individual freedoms. Supporters of the motion stressed the importance of setting clear guidelines to protect young audiences, while opponents argued for maintaining openness and inclusivity in public venues.
“This is not about limiting artistic expression but about safeguarding children,” Cr Christensen concluded with.
“Should we, as custodians of public entertainment facilities, be prioritising their protection?
“Cinemas have to do it, so why isn't council having to do it?”
After deliberation, the council ultimately voted against the motion by a margin of 4-7, opting to maintain current policies at the MECC and other council facilities.

Prada Clutch will pay tribute to the history of Aussie drag in concert at the MECC next May

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