To the women of Miss Kitka's it was their regular act - a striptease down to vintage underwear, and a few balloons popped for added spice. But to some of the attendees of the Canberra Climate Change forum it was all too much. Red-faced organisers of the 17th annual forum have apologised for their "inappropriate" choice of entertainment during the forum dinner. But that did not stop two government departments from withdrawing their $8000 sponsorship for the annual event.
The House of Burlesque show involved stripping one woman of red balloons with a pin, but forum organisers said it was intended to be "lighthearted entertainment". Miss Kitka, better known as Australian National University student Rebecca Gale, said you would see more nudity on a beach and that members of the audience had overreacted to the "tongue-in-cheek" act. "It is very unfortunate and upsetting," she said. "We are being portrayed as strippers and while there is an element of striptease, the least anyone stripped down to was vintage underwear."
However, when Miss Kitka came out clad in red balloons and offered pins to anyone who wanted to help her pop them, the temperature increased more rapidly than any predictions for climate change. While that was going on, another troupe member stripped off a coat, hat, gloves and dress.
In a statement delivered this afternoon, the ANU organisers apologised for their "misjudged" choice of entertainment. "The ANZ Climate Forum organising committee apologises for any offence taken at the forum dinner," the organisers said in a statement read out at the close of the forum. "The intent was lighthearted entertainment. "In retrospect the choice of entertainment was inappropriate for the occasion. "We understand if the sponsors wish to withdraw."
An ANU spokeswoman said there was no nudity involved in the event. "The Department of the Environment and Heritage's Australian Greenhouse Office considers the nature of the 'entertainment' at this event to be highly inappropriate," said the department's deputy secretary, Howard Bamsey. "Our representative was among those who walked out ... (and) we are withdrawing our sponsorship of this event." Environment Minister Ian Campbell has withdrawn $3000, saying the Government "could not be associated with such inappropriate activity". The Bureau of Rural Sciences, part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has withdrawn $5000 in funding.
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