David Campbell has admitted the Today Extra show picked the wrong guests for its panel discussion on the Australia Day ‘change the date’ controversy and the Indigenous Voice to Parliament – by excluding any Aboriginal input.
Despite his disclaimer, the Today Extra segment went ahead on Friday morning with just himself, co-host Sylvia Jeffreys, and journalists Tom Tilley and Jess Ridley.
‘I want to acknowledge the fact we are four white people talking about this so we’re not going to speak for the Indigenous people here,’ Campbell said before the discussion began.
Footage of some of the ‘Invasion Day’ protests across Australia on Thursday were broadcast as Campbell made the admission.
He then quickly moved on to ask Tilley about Aboriginal lawyer Teela Reid, who is a prominent supporter of The Voice, and her stance on January 26.
‘She doesn’t think we should change the date yet because we don’t have anything to celebrate in her eyes,’ the former Triple J Hack presenter said.
‘She wants us to move forward on something like the Voice, or a Republic before we find a new date to celebrate.’
Indigenous leader Warren Mundine said it was ‘a bit nutty’ the panel did not feature any First Nations peoples.
‘You need a mixture on a panel so you’re getting different viewpoints,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘David is right, it’s a bit odd. You can’t say you want a voice and put someone else on to try and channel someone else.’
Mr Mundine added it was ‘healthy’ that people from various backgrounds were speaking about such an important topic but the oversight was glaring.
‘If they’re going to talk about these things, they need to have a serious discussion and they need to have all sides,’ he said.
Campbell’s disclaimer may have been prompted by memories of the outcry that rival Seven program Sunrise faced in March 2018 for a discussion on the Stolen Generations debate.
The show was forced to apologise over a remark in the discussion between host Sam Armytage, outspoken commentator Prue MacSween, and radio host Ben Davis.
David Campbell has addressed the moment he discussed the controversy around the date of Australia Day on a panel without any Indigenous Australians
Sunrise host Samantha Armytage (centre) and commentators Prue MacSween (left) and Ben Davis (right) came under fire after a controversial debate over Aboriginal adoption
The discussion came after federal Assistant Minister for Children and Families David Gillespie called for a relaxation of rules prohibiting indigenous children from being adopted by non-Aboriginal families.
‘Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of kids were taken for their wellbeing, we need to do it again,’ MacSween said in the on-air discussion.
The comments ignited protests outside Sunrise’s Sydney studio and the Australian Communication and Media Authority found it had breached the Commercial Television Industry Code Of Practice.
Critics of the ‘Stolen Generations’ policy under which some children were taken from Aboriginal families to be fostered by white families or put in boarding homes say it was not for their well being, but a policy of forced assimilation to white norms.
Sunrise later apologised for the segment.
‘Opinions were expressed during the segment which referred to the stolen generation [sic] and which were offensive to some viewers, including Indigenous Australians.
The panel discussed changing the date of Australia and the proposal for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament
‘Channel Seven, the Sunrise team and our commentators Prue MacSween and Ben Davis apologise for those comments and the harm they have caused.’
Meanwhile, debate rages on among indigenous groups as to whether they want the Voice to Parliament or resist it and push for more impactful representation.
Australians are expected to vote in the second half of 2023 on Indigenous recognition in the Constitution and the establishment of an Indigenous body to advise parliament on issues that affect First Nations people.
Greens Senator and Indigenous rights activist Lidia Thorpe has publicly criticised the move, and said there needs to be more than an ‘advisory body’.
‘We have an opportunity to have a treaty … that could put 10 independent Blak seats in the parliament today. We want real power and we won’t settle for anything less,’ she said during a rally in Melbourne on Thursday.
On the Today Extra discussion, Tilley added that January 26 had become ‘uncomfortable’ for a lot of Australians who were now unsure on how to celebrate the national holiday.
‘I think (Ms Reid) would argue that’s a good thing,’ he said.
Tilley spoke to Ms Reid on an episode of his podcast The Briefing, which aired on Thursday.
In the episode, Ms Reid said ‘everyday for us is Invasion Day’, and that the tension felt on January 26 was not a one-off.
‘I personally don’t think we can rewrite the fact that this awful history has happened in our nation’s story,’ she said.
‘Australia day as a celebration should be abolished and it should be marked as a day of mourning.
‘What’s there to celebrate? I don’t think Australia has earned the right to celebrate.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Channel Nine for comment.
Firebrand Greens Senator and Indigenous rights activist Lidia Thorpe has publicly criticised the Voice and said Aboriginals deserve to be more than an ‘advisory body’.