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28-November-2017

ABC News Breakfast
ABC Studio Canberra
28 November 2017
:35am

 

E & OE

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Triple J's Hottest 100 will not be held on Australia Day next year after Triple J surveyed listeners about changing the date out of respect for Indigenous Australians. The countdown will still go ahead on the Australia Day long weekend next year, but instead will be held on January the 27th.

VIRGINA TRIOLI:

While the majority of Triple J listeners are in favour of change, others have criticised the move and that includes Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, who joins me now.

Minister, good morning. Thank you for joining us.

FIFIELD:

Good morning Virginia.

TRIOLI:

We'll get to whether you're going to fund us for a trip overseas for the royal wedding in a just a moment.  You can check the coffers then.  As I am sure you know better than anyone, the Hottest 100 is not an official day, an official part of Australia Day celebrations so why does a scheduling change bother you?

FIFIELD:

Virginia the Hottest 100 has been part of the sound track of Australia Day for the best part of 20 years. We've all come to know and accept that that's when it will be.  And we all enjoy it. My issue here really is that the ABC and Triple J, through taking this decision, is making a political statement. 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 the 26th of January. Australia Day isn't going anywhere. It is going to remain the 26th of January.  It 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.

TRIOLI:

Why would you call it a political statement? If Triple J sees it as a statement of respect for those who have a problem with the date of Australia Day, why is that a political statement? It sounds like another chapter in the culture wars?

FIFIELD:

It is a political statement.  If you're saying that there are people who have an issue with Australia Day, and you are changing your programming as a result, that is a political intervention by the public broadcaster.

TRIOLI:

It's a cultural intervention, rather than a political one?

FIFIELD:

It is a political intervention. Now the ABC is ...

TRIOLI:

You characterise it as such?

FIFIELD:

The ABC is our national broadcaster. It receives in excess of a billion a year. The ABC as a media organisation, funded by the taxpayer, should be in the business of helping to re-enforce a sense of cohesion and community. And if the ABC finds difficulty in doing that on Australia Day, then I'm bewildered. 

Virginia there are some days, as a Minister, when you slap your forehead and you say - what were these guys thinking?

TRIOLI:

It's interesting. I don't know if the Federal Government wants to be part of what seems to be an emerging national discussion about a great deal of disquiet about Australia Day. Triple J seems to have taken a view on that.  According to their viewers and I guess that's the key thing here. It's their own poll. They can decide exactly where they want to hold it? Of course it actually started in March, and in 2004, apparently it didn't even line up with Australia Day then. Was Triple J called un-Australian or showing a lack of cohesiveness back in 2004?

FIFIELD:

Triple J say that it hasn't always been on Australia Day. It's only been on Australia Day for the past 20 years. I think that's a pretty thin argument. There are a relatively small number of people who have an issue with the fact that Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th of January.

We know that there are some rogue councils who have decided that they don't think citizenship ceremonies should occur on Australia Day in their jurisdiction. Well we've said no - sorry, you don't get to make that call.

Australia Day is the 26th of January. It's going to stay the 26th of January. Australians love the day. Over my 14 years in public life, I've only seen the enthusiasm and embracing of Australia Day grow. That's a good thing.

The ABC and Triple J shouldn’t be responding to petitions. You mentioned that they had undertaken their own surveys. Well, the ABC has a broader obligation than just to one market segment. They have an obligation to the whole nation.  And they should be fulfilling that.

TRIOLI:

I just want to really quickly get to some other topics but before we leave this one, one quick question.  Will there be some retribution from the Government or from you as Communications Minister, for this?

FIFIELD:

I already have made my view clear to the ABC. And I'll be asking the Board of the ABC, who have the ultimate programming and editorial responsibility, to reconsider this.

Alright, will same-sex marriage be done by Christmas, do you think?

FIFIELD:

Absolutely. We have a motion that's been agreed to by the Senate that ensures that the bill will be dealt with by the end of this week. It will then be available for the House of Representatives.  And I have no doubt that they will stay until the job is done.

TRIOLI:

And the Nationals are getting increasingly restless about a banking Commission of Inquiry, given that some in Cabinet clearly also reconsidered this recently as we saw in the leak. Would the better part of valour now to give the Nationals and those with broader concerns in the Australian community, the Commission of Inquiry they'd like to see?

FIFIELD:

Our focus has been on enhancing accountability of banks and also delivering for consumers. It's why there's more money and powers for ASIC. It's why we've got a one stop shop for complaints. It's why we now have the bank executives periodically come before the House Economics Committee. What we want to see is greater accountability in the here and now.  And also better outcomes for consumers in the here and now. We don't need a Royal Commission. Royal Commissions take a lot of time and a lot of money. What we're focused on is practical outcomes.

TRIOLI:

Alright.  And can we go to London next year for the royal wedding please?

FIFIELD:

Look, I don't see an issue there. As I say, you've already got more than $1 billion a year so I'm sure you can find some small change there to get yourselves across in economy.

TRIOLI:

I think Michael and I will probably shout our own tickets on that and won't deal into the precious ABC coffers for that.

FIFIELD:

That's very good of you and I appreciate it.

TRIOLI:

Frequent flyer miles.  Thanks for joining us Minister.  Thank you.

FIFIELD:

Good to be here.

[ends]