Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has described Triple J’s decision to move the Hottest 100 countdown from Day as “dumb” and told the public broadcaster to reconsider.
The youth-focused radio station announced on Monday that it would no longer hold its popular annual countdown on January 26 after surveying tens of thousands of listeners, 60 per cent of whom supported it being moved.
The announcement also follows a campaign to shift the date from Day out of respect for Indigenous ns, many of whom see the current date as a celebration of invasion by European settlers.
While Indigenous musicians, the Greens and others have welcomed the move, it has been met with an immediate backlash. Senator Fifield condemned it as “an attempt to de-legitimise Day” and said he would be asking the ABC board to reverse the decision.
“Sometimes, as a minister, you slap your forehead and say to yourself, ‘What were these guys thinking?’ This is just a really bad idea; it’s a dumb idea and Triple J should change their minds,” he told ABC radio.
“For the past 20 years, the Triple J Hottest 100 has become part of the soundtrack of Day. It’s something that ns enjoy. It’s one of the fixed points of reference.
“And what Triple J and the ABC have done is to respond to a petition which has said it’s not appropriate to have the Hottest 100 on the controversial Day. There’s nothing controversial about Day.”
Senator Fifield said the ABC was making a political statement in response to pressure from “people who don’t like Day, who don’t like the fact we celebrate the 26th of January” and said the public broadcaster should not be doing that.
Greens senator Rachel Siewert said it was “fantastic news that everyone in can now enjoy the countdown on a date that doesn’t cause harm and hurt to our First Peoples”.
Triple J said it will now hold the Hottest 100 on the fourth weekend of January and will play all n music on Day.
On Tuesday, the ABC defended the decision and said it “benefits everybody”.
“Triple J’s community continues to celebrate the countdown and the great music, now over an extended weekend, while the network has more time to join the rest of the ABC in providing comprehensive coverage of Day,” the public broadcaster said in a statement.
“The network conducted extensive research showing that the Triple J audience wanted to decouple the countdown from the politics, with a focus exclusively on the music.”