Australian Anthony Albanese drinks beer at Gang of Youths concert


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MELBOURNE, Australia — Sitting in the crowd, the guy in the dark shirt drank a beer while watching an alternative rock band perform in his hometown.

But this was no ordinary spectator – this was Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Albo, as he is known here, was spotted in the seated section of Sydney’s Enmore Theatre, a venue in his constituency where the band Gang of Youths performed on Monday night. He was with his partner, Jodie Haydon, and Australia’s Minister for Employment and Labor Relations, Tony Burke.

And he received a reception 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 subsequent 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 honor.

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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 on breakfast TV. And when Albanese recently hosted New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, the duo swapped a series of vinyl records.

Albanese even said he would DJ for Fatman Scoop “if I can” during 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, a 36-year-old woman, faced a backlash that didn’t seem to materialize with Albanese, a 59-year-old man. Marin took a drug test and released the negative result, and she stood up for her right to have fun with her 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’s unclear if his drinking pace rivaled that of one of his political ancestors, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who was recognized by a Guinness World Record for downing a glass of beer in 11 seconds. while studying at Oxford University in 1954. Hawke, who died in 2019, was once captured on video drinking beer during a hair-raising knot-rate cricket match – but crowd friendly.

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 released this week show Albanese enjoying overwhelming popularity three months after the election, ahead of Tory rival Peter Dutton by 55% to 17% as preferred prime minister.

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