Triple J Hottest 100: Fi­field wants ABC board to re­ject Aus­tralia Day move

The Guardian Australia - - News - Paul Karp

Mitch Fi­field has asked the ABC board to re­con­sider the de­ci­sion to move the Triple J Hottest 100 from Aus­tralia Day, which he has la­belled a be­wil­der­ing move by the national broad­caster.

The com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter told ABC Break­fast on Tues­day the ABC and Triple J were “mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal state­ment” by tak­ing an ac­tion that would “help to dele­git­imise Aus­tralia Day”.

On Mon­day Triple J an­nounced it would move the count­down to the fourth week­end in Jan­uary, af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with Indigenous groups.

Ac­cord­ing to a poll con­ducted in Jan­uary most Indigenous Aus­tralians feel 26 Jan­uary cel­e­brates in­va­sion and should not be cel­e­brated as Aus­tralia Day.

Al­though just 15% of all Aus­tralians agree the date of Aus­tralia Day should be moved ac­cord­ing to that poll, Triple J’s sur­vey of its lis­ten­ers found 60% favoured mov­ing the Hottest 100.

Fi­field said the Hottest 100 “has been part of the sound­track of Aus­tralia Day for the best part of 20 years” and dis­missed Triple J’s ar­gu­ment it had not al­ways been held on Aus­tralia Day as “pretty thin”.

“We’ve all come to know and ac­cept that that’s when it will be and we all en­joy it,” he said. “Triple J have made it very clear that the rea­son that they’re shift­ing it from Aus­tralia Day is in re­sponse to those Aus­tralians who don’t think that Aus­tralia Day should be cel­e­brated on Jan­uary 26.”

Fi­field warned that “Aus­tralia Day isn’t go­ing any­where”.

“It will be Jan­uary 26 and should be a day that unites us and the ABC, through its ac­tions, is ac­tu­ally help­ing to dele­git­imise Aus­tralia Day, which is the ob­jec­tive of those who don’t want to have Aus­tralia Day cel­e­brated as we cur­rently do.”

Fi­field noted the ABC re­ceived $1bn a year of tax­payer fund­ing and said it should “be in the busi­ness of help­ing to re­in­force a sense of co­he­sion and com­mu­nity”.

Asked if there would be ret­ri­bu­tion against the ABC, Fi­field said he had al­ready made his view clear to the ABC and would ask the ABC board, which has the ul­ti­mate pro­gram­ming and edi­to­rial re­spon­si­bil­ity, to re­con­sider the de­ci­sion.

In Se­nate ques­tion time, Fi­field con­firmed he had now writ­ten to the ABC.

The com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter told the ABC that a “rel­a­tively small” num­ber of peo­ple ob­jected to the date of Aus­tralia Day, and said en­thu­si­asm for the day had ac­tu­ally grown in re­cent years.

He linked Triple J’s de­ci­sion to moves by “rogue coun­cils” to refuse to con­duct cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­monies on 26 Jan­uary, which led to the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment re­vok­ing their abil­ity to con­duct the cer­e­monies.

The Indigenous song­writer Dan Sul­tan wel­comed what he called a “re­ally beau­ti­ful ges­ture” by the ra­dio sta­tion to recog­nise what “a lot of peo­ple feel” about the national day.

“If you lose a few peo­ple that don’t care about hu­man­ity and don’t have em­pa­thy and don’t care about do­ing the right thing, then I think that’s a pos­i­tive,” Sul­tan told the ABC.

“I don’t mind Aus­tralia Day. I don’t. I mind it be­ing on that day,” he said.

“And [the Hottest 100 has] only been on that day since 1994 any­way, which is some­thing that a lot of peo­ple don’t re­alise or don’t care about.”

The ABC said in a state­ment it had con­ducted ex­ten­sive re­search “show­ing that the Triple J au­di­ence wanted to de­cou­ple the count­down from the pol­i­tics, with a fo­cus ex­clu­sively on the mu­sic”.

The broad­caster would al­ways “main­tain a strong com­mit­ment to Aus­tralia Day and as­so­ci­ated events”, pro­vid­ing more cov­er­age of the day than any other me­dia out­let.

“The new for­mat al­lows Triple J to ex­pand its cov­er­age of Aus­tralia Day and the is­sues that are rel­e­vant

to its au­di­ence.”

Liam Sta­ple­ton (left) and Ben Har­vey from Triple J. The com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter Mitch Fi­field has crit­i­cised the sta­tion for mov­ing the Hottest 100 from Aus­tralia Day, say­ing it’s the ABC’s job to ‘re­in­force a sense of co­he­sion and com­mu­nity’....

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