Interview on 2GB, Afternoons with Deborah Knight
Simon Birmingham: Hey Deb. Good to be with you.
Deborah Knight: Now what are you thinking, Minister? Have you really given this abstract wattle sprig the tick of approval?
Simon Birmingham: Well let's perhaps clarify some of the misconceptions that exist there. This isn't replacing any kangaroos anywhere. It's not replacing the Australian Made logo. It's not replacing the kangaroo on the Qantas tail. It's not replacing the kangaroo on the Wallabies guernsey. It's not replacing a single kangaroo anywhere. What happens at present is that in terms of Australia's international trade shows and those sorts of events, there's actually a quite abstract boomerang type shape that you'd be hard-pressed to know necessarily was meant to be a boomerang.
Deborah Knight: Well exactly, that logo – I've had a look at that logo, which I'll put on the Facebook page too. But, I mean, it looks odd in itself. Who's coming up with these logos?
Simon Birmingham: Well, people who are far allegedly better qualified than me in terms of marketing and design, and communications.
Deborah Knight: I hope you haven't paid them too much money. Have people been paid to come up with these?
Simon Birmingham: Well there was an advertising agency that was engaged, as is always the case in these sorts of things, Deb, and as you would appreciate. But I want to give everybody a reassurance – the green and gold kangaroo on the Australian Made logo isn't going anywhere. And in fact, the Morrison Government, is investing $5 million in making sure that we better promote and better use that green and gold kangaroo. In terms of this nation brand, it's not simply just a logo. It's about an entire approach of outlining, in terms of colour palette and style and approaches to how we structure things like the great big stands that are built at trade shows and the design and approach that is used there. And then sitting underneath those stands, are all of our different product categories and that will include things like our tourisms promotions where, again, kangaroo is front and centre in many of our tourism promotions and the logo of our tourism agency. As well as, of course, a whole range of other different things. We do have to appreciate though, that this is, you know, not just promoting Australian food or not just promoting Australian tourism. It is also about having something that our science and research community can go out and promote themselves under-
Deborah Knight: But how is a sprig of wattle going to do that? I mean, how is a sprig of Wattle going to promote science and technology? I mean, it's an abstract thing that looks like a coronavirus to me.
Simon Birmingham: Well Deb, I'd encourage people to have a look at the full set as to how it's actually used and reassure everybody, again, it's not replacing the things that people know Australia for and won't be taking away any of those other things that the different agencies, different businesses et cetera use. But one of the things that is widely criticised is that when Australia goes out into the international markets, we frequently have states using different colours and different approaches. And of course, the state based names and with all due respect to New South Wales or Queensland or Tasmania, most countries around the rest of the world don't understand where the Australian states are or what they stand for. That's why we're wanting to put the term Australia front and centre. It's very simple - the name of our country - at the centre of our branding approach across the world. But do it in a way that enables then, those states, if they have their own approaches or businesses or industry bodies, to pitch themselves under that consistent look and style.
Deborah Knight: So you've got that you've got your sprig of wattle, your abstract sprig of wattle there, which I'll still test - it looks like a coronavirus. I'm sure that this was designed prior to the pandemic, but that deserves a rethink. But in the centre of it, you've got AU, which I'm assuming you would hope consumers will automatically know stands for Australia, but AU also stands for Austria.
Simon Birmingham: And AU won't be used without the word Australia next to it.
Deborah Knight: It's also the chemical symbol for gold.
Simon Birmingham: And we're a great mining country and we should also be achieving to a gold standard…
Deborah Knight: Oh come on. Really?
Simon Birmingham: … and green and gold are our colours, Deb.
Deborah Knight: So the AU does stand for gold as well as Australia then?
Simon Birmingham: It is- I mean, Australia…
Deborah Knight: As part of this logo?
Simon Birmingham: …has a gold standard, Deb. Why would we not want to be represented by a gold standard? Why would we not be playing on the green and gold colours that Australia pitches out to the world?
Deborah Knight: So if it- the big question I think, Simon Birmingham, is if it ain't broke, why do you need to fix it? If the iconic kangaroo logo is so identifiable as Australia, and that's what logos are meant to do, they're meant to not require an explanation. You don't have to explain that it is a sprig of wattle or it is the AU. If the kangaroo ain't broke, why do we need to add the wattle logo into it? Why do you need it at all?
Simon Birmingham: But we don't have a single kangaroo, Deb. This is a key part of the point. Yes, we have the Australian Made logo that is…
Deborah Knight: Which has a kangaroo on it, doesn't it?
Simon Birmingham: Which has a kangaroo on it.
Deborah Knight: So we've got that.
Simon Birmingham: And will still have a kangaroo on it and will still be used for all of the goods for which it is used. So, you know, it's a stamp that goes on Australian made goods. It's not a stamp that then goes on Australian universities. You don't go out and say this university is Australia Made…
Deborah Knight: No, but it represents Australia. The kangaroo is the one- The kangaroo represents Australia. Everyone in the world knows, when they see a kangaroo, it's Australia. Doesn't have to be made in Australia; it represents Australia.
Simon Birmingham: And our tourism agency uses a kangaroo as their logo. They will…
Deborah Knight: Because it works and so does Qantas.
Simon Birmingham: But- and they'll still do so, Deb, but it's a very different kangaroo in terms of its style and its design from the Qantas kangaroo, which is a different kangaroo from the RAAF's kangaroo, which is a different kangaroo from the Australian Made kangaroo.
Deborah Knight: So you think the wattle will put his head and shoulders above?
Simon Birmingham: No, but what we didn't want to try to do was say we're going to have another kangaroo that we want everybody to try to use that looks completely different from the kangaroo they're already using.
Deborah Knight: I tell you what, it sounds confusing to me Minister. And we have been inundated with callers. I know The Daily Telegraph has got a survey up - 96 per cent of their respondents are saying they hate it.
Simon Birmingham: But Deb, The Daily Telegraph story is completely misleading. As I've said before, we're not replacing the Australian Made kangaroo. There's no change here. This is replacing, which you've acknowledged, is a pretty ordinary looking logo that is currently…
Deborah Knight: But the kangaroo's not ordinary. I'm not, you know, I think- I just genuinely can't understand why you can't stick with the kangaroo and forget the odd looking boomerangs and the odd looking…
Simon Birmingham: We are sticking with the kangaroo.
Deborah Knight: But you're adding this to it as well. It's sort of adding a degree of complication, which is not needed.
Simon Birmingham: Well, it's not. I assure you it's not adding a degree of complication. It is recognising that yes, we need to have a consistent sort of color palette, look, style, feel for the way we build international trade exhibitions and so on. And so there are no shortage of kangaroos that are then placed in the different products and brands around those exhibitions as we market our tourism with a kangaroo, as we market Australian made goods with a kangaroo, as we market our sporting teams with versions of kangaroos.
Deborah Knight: And just finally, can you tell me how this new logo has cost to come up with?
Simon Birmingham: So, this was a decision made previously and there was some $10 million invested, not just in the logo, in a whole range of other elements that have been built as part of this, and that budget wasn't fully expended.
Deborah Knight: So $10 ten million, part of that?
Simon Birmingham: That was the budget that was given to a whole range of activities previously by the Turnbull government, the previous trade minister.
Deborah Knight: Alright. I don't know how you justify spending it. But Simon, I appreciate your time.
Thanks for coming on.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks Deb. My pleasure.
Deborah Knight: The Minister for Trade there, Simon Birmingham.
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