“Controversy is just part of being on television. I knew it was going to be a thing on this show, but I don’t care,” he said.
“It’s a voted show, it’s audited, it couldn’t be more above board. More people voted for me than are slamming me, so I’m going to focus on those people.”
The 31-year-old – who previously appeared in The Voice‘s debut season in 2012, but suggests his brother’s success turned public sentiment against him at the time – said he’d turned down several invitations to appear on the show in previous years before accepting this season.
“That’s how all these shows work. It’s a casting process. They go out and look for people they think are going to be great on the show. I spoke to many people on the show and a lot of them were invited to audition,” he said.
A Channel Nine spokesperson said: “The public vote for The Voice winner is highly regulated, operated by an independent third party, and overseen by lawyers. This year’s result is the tightest ever, with less than half a percent of the votes separating the winner and runner-up.”
The singer said, despite the backlash, he’s eager to record his winner’s album which he describes as “Lewis Capaldi and James Arthur hanging out with Chris Brown and Bruno Mars”.
“People are always going to have an opinion and I can’t control it,” he said.
“I’m happy that I’m not fazed by that stuff. It’s not rigged! It’s illegal to do that stuff. I’m just gonna take delight in the fact that I happened to get the most amount of votes [on Sunday], and that’s all I can really focus on.”
The controversy marks a final hiccup for this year’s awkward production of the reality TV program.
The COVID pandemic heavily interrupted the season’s shooting schedule, with travel restrictions forcing international judges Kelly Rowland and Boy George to film episodes via video link. It also meant the finale was pre-taped for the first time in the show’s history.
With 911,000 viewers across the five major cities, Sunday’s episode was the lowest-rated finale ever for The Voice, while the winner announcement earned 871,000 viewers, also the lowest-ever figure for the show.
Up against Network 10’s refreshed MasterChef the show also struggled to maintain viewers this season, achieving its lowest-ever season average audience with 864,000 viewers (down nine per cent on last season’s average of 945,000 viewers).
Sunday’s finale ended the ninth season of the series, which launched in 2012.
Nine’s head of content, production and development, Adrian Swift, said the show had been “produced in extraordinary times under unprecedented pressure”.
“The voting was the closest in the history of the show with thousands of votes coming in right up until the second polling closed. To our winner Chris Sebastian and all four finalists, you delivered some of the finest performances ever seen on The Voice stage; congratulations to all of you,” Mr Swift said.
Robert Moran is a culture reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age