Should we change the date?
Well triple j did. That is, they moved their popular Hottest 100 countdown (that has become synonymous with Australia day celebrations) to instead be held on 27th January or every fourth weekend in January.
The move has been commended by many advocates and First Peoples who deem the current date of Australia day as disrespectful. The day is often viewed as ‘Invasion Day’ or ‘Survival Day’ due to the fact that in 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove declaring the nation British sovereign land.
After conducting two surveys, triple j concluded that their community backed the decision to change the date of the radio countdown. 60 per cent of 65,000 respondents supporting the change. Triple j decided it was time to remove itself from the political debate.
“The Hottest 100 wasn’t created as an Australia Day celebration,” said triple j in a statement on its website.
“It was created to celebrate your favourite songs of the past year.
“It should be an event that everyone can enjoy together — for both the musicians whose songs make it in and for everyone listening in Australia and around the world.”
The broadcasters’ decision has been met with some backlash, particularly from the Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, who said he will ask the ABC’s board to reconsider triple j’s move.
“The ABC shouldn’t be buying into this debate.
“Australia Day is our national day. The ABC should honour it and not mess with the Hottest 100,” said Mr Fifield.
Indigenous musicians including Briggs and Trials from A.B. Original and Dan Sultan have welcomed triple j’s decision. At the Aria awards on Tuesday night Briggs said that the decision was a “step towards equity and inclusivity.”
Sultan stated it was important move as, “that day [26 January] commemorates the beginning of the ongoing genocide of our people.”
Triple j will still broadcast alternative programing on Australia day, including Young Australian of the Year, the Australia vs England One Day Series and the major indigenous event, Yabun Festival.
This debate also lends to the larger discussion around treaty and acknowledgement of the First Peoples as sovereign in the Australian Constitution.
Earlier this year the President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan issued a Survival Day message to call on Australians to show respect and honour for First Peoples on 26 January. You can view the message here.