New South Wales MP Rose Jackson has gone viral after she demanded answers over why the upcoming Australia and New Zealand spinoff RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under not being filmed in Sydney.
The upcoming Australia and New Zealand spinoff of the show began filming in Auckland in late January.
TV sources said the production moved to New Zealand after Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak late last year. Travel restrictions in Australia prevented the new spinoff from filming there.
Labor MP Rose Jackson said losing the show to New Zealand is a “massive missed opportunity” for Australia.
She accused the NSW government of not doing enough to keep production in Australia, a development that was “sickening, and not in a good way”.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race is massively popular,” she said.
“It’s not a case of they should have called us. We should have been calling them to say, ‘What can we do to keep this production in Sydney? How can we make this more attractive for you?’
“The make-up artists, the costume designers, the set designers, the lighting designers, the performers, this was their moment to showcase on an international stage what they were doing.
“The NSW government didn’t even lift a finger to try and to keep the production in Sydney, embed streaming services in Sydney.
“Facts are facts, and this was a massive missed opportunity.
“It’s sickening, and not in a good way, that the NSW government let Drag Race Down Under slip away, and the minister should sashay away and make sure it never happens again.”
So last year @RuPaulsDragRace had to move production of Drag Race Down Under to NZ. Turns out the NSW Govt. did NOTHING to keep production in Sydney! For shame! #dragrace #rupaul #dragracedownunder #NSW #nswpol pic.twitter.com/I58co4IwyB
— Rose Jackson (@RoseBJackson) February 17, 2021
NSW arts minister says Drag Race producers weren’t in contact
In response, New South Wales Art Minister Don Harwin defended the Screen NSW’s “magnificent work” in the last 12 months.
“There has been an avalanche of interest in filming in New South Wales. [This is] simply because this State has done such a good job with the whole community working together to fight this pandemic,” he said.
He said the government had “topped up” the state’s Made in NSW fund with $35 million.
“The new funding has already secured a major international project, the eight-episode Netflix series Pieces of Her [with] expenditure of $58 million and over 400 local jobs,” he said.
“Several more international projects are in the pipeline.”
Harwin said Drag Race Down Under producers “did not at any time approach Screen NSW or have any conversations with them”.
“We have done so much to help films go ahead over the last year,” he said.
“In fact, for most of the last year Australia is literally the only place that people have been able to film and, in particular, in New South Wales.
“So many requests are coming in right now for the development of new studio space in Sydney to keep up with demand to film here.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under is arriving later this year
Streaming service Stan have confirmed RuPaul and Michelle Visage are both appearing on Drag Race Down Under.
However everyone else involved in the show – drag queens and judges alike – are sworn to secrecy.
We still don’t know for sure which 10 Aussie drag stars Stan have promised us have flown over the ditch to compete.
RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under is arriving in Australia on Stan before the end of the year.
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