The Defence Department found itself in hot water over reports of inappropriate entertainment at the commissioning of a $1.5 billion naval ship in Sydney last weekend. A seven-woman troupe dressed in black shorts, red crop tops and berets performed a dance routine that included twerking in front of the auxiliary vessel, HMAS Supply, on April 10, according to footage shown by the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) on Wednesday. Australia Prime Minister turned the footage into a story of inaccurate media coverage and criticism of the national broadcaster.
Video of the performance by the 101 Doll Squadron prompted criticism that it was too risque for a formal occasion.
The ABC report cut between shots showing the dancers and a crowd of dignitaries including Governor-General David Hurley, Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Australia.
However, Hurley had not arrived at the time of the routine, a spokesman for the Australian Defence Force said.
The dance troupe, which the ADF said was hired as part of its engagement with the local community, were critical of the ABC, saying the report was “deceptive” and they were hurt and disappointed by their portrayal and resulting controversy.
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Twitter users were quick to react to the now viral video, with one user saying: “I cannot believe I gasped! And I love all forms of dance, this one included. But in context, it was a very uncomfortable watch.”
One user wrote: “This is what happens when people appropriate dances and other cultural moves. They don’t know where to use them and apply them willy nilly.”
Another added: “This is so fantastically inappropriate that I have no idea how that went passed the organiser of the event.”
A third person said: “Twerking is fine but not to launch a navy ship. Show some respect for the significance of what that means. Men and women who could die and have died on ships past fighting to defend and protect Australian values.”
Australia will spend $770 million developing new naval weaponry capabilities, including long-range missiles and torpedoes, the federal government said on Monday, part of a vast defence upgrade amid rising regional tensions.
The country plans to provide its navy with advanced long-range anti-ship missiles, extended range surface-to-air missiles, advanced lightweight torpedoes, and maritime land strike capabilities to “project and maintain sea control”, the government said in a statement.
“These new capabilities will provide a strong, credible deterrent that will ensure stability and security in the region,” Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in the statement.
The spending is part of a previously announced defence budget increase over the next decade as the country seeks to pivot its military focus to the Indo-Pacific region amid worsening relations with China.