FOCUS ELSEWHERE: Australian Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield was a vocal opponent to date-change of Triple J's Hottest 100.
FOCUS ELSEWHERE: Australian Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield was a vocal opponent to date-change of Triple J's Hottest 100. LUKAS COCH

New date the hottest 100 topic

I was a bit puzzled when it was first suggested I do an article on, Triple J's decision to change their Hottest 100 from Australia Day 2018 to the day after (January 27). I thought, okay, the Hottest 100 is probably a bit like the old Top 40 we used to listen to on Saturday nights. Not really a big deal - a bit of fun, but not really worth writing about.

Apparently I was wrong. It is a big deal! The Hottest 100 is an annual music poll conducted by ABC's owned radio station, Triple J radio that attracts more than two million votes each year. The Hottest 100 songs, as decided by the poll, are then played by Triple J on Australia Day. Later, a compilation CD featuring highlighted acts is released by ABC Music.

Triple J commenced their music polls in 1989. However, the resulting Hottest 100 was only moved to Australia Day in 1998. Apart from 2004, when it was held on January 25, it has been on January 26 every year ever since. It has become a significant part of many young people's Australia Day celebrations.

However, not everyone sees January 26, which marks the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney, as a day of celebration. Some people call it Invasion Day as it also signifies the beginning of the dispossession of Aboriginal people and their near genocide. Still other people refer to the day as Survival Day - a day to celebrate the survival of Aboriginal people and Aboriginal culture despite the wrongdoings of the past. Many Survival Day events are held on January 26 Australia-wide, including the Freshwater, Saltwater Festival at Coffs Harbour.

Understanding the complications of holding the Hottest 100 event on Australia Day, Triple J decided to review the date. Firstly they consulted with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians and significant organisations such as Reconciliation Australia and the National Australia Day Council.

Triple j's Hottest 100
Triple j's Hottest 100

Triple J then conducted an on-line survey in August 2017. There was a massive response with more than 65,000 people completing the survey. 60% of respondents believed the date should be moved, 39% disagreed and 1% didn't care either way.

To further validate the survey results, another smaller survey was undertaken, with 759 18-30 year old Triple J listeners personally contacted. In this survey, 55% of respondents were in favour of moving the date, 24% were against, and 22% didn't care.

So, put in simple terms, Triple J asked a question of its listeners, who responded in large numbers. Triple J then made a decision based on the majority response. A smart call on Triple J's part - asking their consumers what they wanted and then giving it to them.

As an Aboriginal person, it is really heart-warming to know that many young people have a social conscience (Triple J is aimed at 18-24 year olds). They understand that January 26 is not viewed as a festive occasion by many Aboriginal people.

People attend an Invasion Day protest march in Melbourne.
People attend an Invasion Day protest march in Melbourne. ALEX MURRAY

As my daughter, who happens to be a big fan of Triple J's hottest 100s remarked, "Not wanting to celebrate January 26 doesn't mean we hate non-Aboriginal people or that we are not proud to be Australians. It's just that we don't want to commemorate a day that represents, to us, the horrible things that have happened to Aboriginal people."

Yes, this decision by Triple J is such a big deal, that the Federal Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, is requesting that the ABC Board override Triple J's decision so the Hottest 100 remains on Australia Day.

I find it concerning that the Minister would involve himself with the programming schedule of a government funded radio station. It doesn't sound quite right to me. Besides, I thought he would have more important issues to focus on like say, the NBN.

On an uplifting note, Triple J, since 2015, has partnered with the Aboriginal Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME). In 2016 this partnership resulted in listeners of the Hottest 100 assisting to raise $250,000. These funds will allow AIME to increase its mentoring program to 7000 indigenous students.



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