Australian Anthony Albanese drinks beer at Gang of Youths concert
And he received a welcome more worthy of a rock star than a politician.
Albanese briefly stole the show as he gulped down his beer to loud applause and pointed to the empty mug for his audience. A later comment on Twitter also noted approvingly his Joy Division t-shirt, after a video of his appearance was widely shared.
Australia’s prime minister is something of a cult figure in his mid-west Sydney region, a historically working-class area that has gradually become gentrified. A local brewery even named a beer in his honour.
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His participation in Monday’s concert was in keeping with his public image as a music lover. When he was an opposition MP, “DJ Albo” appeared behind the decks at charity events and television breakfast. And when Albanians hosted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney recently, the couple exchanged a series of vinyl records.
Albanese even said he would DJ for Fatman Scoop “if I can” at the American artist’s November performance in Brisbane. The rapper made a surprise appearance on Australian radio on Thursday and ambushed the Prime Minister with the unusual request.
Yet Albanese’s public rejoicing this week drew a markedly different response than that of Finnish leader Sanna Marin recently. A leaked video that showed Marin dancing with friends sparked a debate in Finland and abroad about whether a partying national leader was appropriate.
Marin, female and 36, has faced a blowback that doesn’t seem to be materializing with Albanese, male and 59. Marin passed a drug test and published the negative result, and defended his right to have fun with his friends. “I hope that in the year 2022 it is accepted that even the decision makers dance, sing and go to parties,” she said on Friday.
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But in Australia, the country that brought the world “shoey” – drinking alcohol out of someone’s worn, sweaty shoes – the simple glass of Albanese beer may have been considered sweet fare.
It is not known if his drinking rate rivaled that of one of his political ancestors, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who was recognized by a Guinness World Record for drink a glass of beer in 11 seconds while studying at Britain’s Oxford University in 1954. Hawke, who died in 2019, was once captured on video drinking beer at a cricket match at a hair-raising – but crowd-pleasing – knot rate.
Albanese became prime minister in May after his centre-left Labor Party won elections after nine years of Tory rule. Since then, he has focused on pushing for deeper carbon emissions cuts, tackling inflation and smoothing Australia’s frosty relationship with China.
Polls published this week show Albanians enjoying overwhelming popularity three months after the election, leading his Tory rival Peter Dutton 55% to 17% as preferred prime minister.