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'You're sounding racist': Aussie presenter slammed over rant

Author
Newstalk ZB, news.com.au,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 4:46p.m.
Kerri-Anne Kennerley clashed with fellow panelist Yumi Stynes. (Photo / Channel 10)

Kerri-Anne Kennerley has been slammed and her views labelled "putrid" after a Studio 10 discussion about Australia Day protests turned heated.

Presenter Yumi Stynes branded Kennerley's stance "racist" after the daytime queen claimed Invasion Day protesters were ignorant of Aboriginal women and children "being raped" in the outback.

Since the segment aired Twitter has lit up with users slamming Kennerley's "ignorant and uninformed" argument.

Former senator and Indigenous woman Nova Peris describing her comments as "putrid" while applauding Stynes for challenging her.

This afternoon Kennerley hit back at the criticism, telling Ben Fordham on 2GB that her comments about sexual abuse in outback Aboriginal communities had "nothing to do" with racism.

"I'm still offended by it, because that sort of headline you and I both know being in the media we will see that again and again, and as soon as you Google something Kerri-Anne's a racist," she said.

"I do take very big personal exception to being called a racist."

Kennerley dodged Fordham's question on whether Stynes had apologised after their confrontation but said they would both be appearing together on Studio 10 the next day.

Presenter Yumi Stynes, far right, branded Kerri Anne Kennerley's, second from left, stance 'racist'. Photo / via Twitter

"I'm old enough to know, we're big girls, we can get on with it," she said. "I haven't spoken to her about it because work finishes off you go and you get on with our real lives.

 

"But I do feel concerned that somebody won't read it, won't hear it, won't understand what the discussion was about."

The argument began when the panel was discussing the weekend's "Invasion Day" protests, in which thousands of Australians took to the street to call for changing the date of Australia Day, arguing it has "become a symbol of inequity and institutionalised harm".

A clearly impassioned Kennerley turned to the camera to deliver a message to the protesters.

"OK, the 5000 people who went through the streets making their points known, saying how inappropriate the day is. Has any single one of those people been out to the Outback, where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped? Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done?" she asked.

In 2004, a national survey of 6677 women suggested that sexual violence against indigenous women was three times more common than against non-indigenous women.

The panel was momentarily silent — until Stynes spoke up.

"That is not even faintly true, Kerri-Anne. You're sounding quite racist right now."

Stynes' statement was met with gasps from the studio audience — and Kennerley herself said she was "offended" by the assertion.

"Well keep going then, because every time you open your mouth you're sounding racist," said Stynes.

"I am seriously offended by that, Yumi. SERIOUSLY offended," said Kennerley.

"These people are desperate for help. Aboriginal elder women are desperate for help, and they're not getting it. Where are these people (other than) one day of the year? You'd be better off doing something positive," Kennerley continued.

At this point Studio 10 host Sarah Harris attempted to play peacemaker, imploring her co-stars to "take it back a notch … everything's going to be cool."

But they weren't done.

"Just because I have a point of view, Yumi, doesn't mean I'm racist," said Kennerley.

"Yeah, you're actually connecting rape, child abuse, you're drawing a straight line … and you're implying those 5000 protesters, none of whom you know personally, are all lazy and idle. You're asking if any of them have ever done anything as though it's clear they haven't," said Stynes.

Kennerley chided her for "drawing a line that isn't there".

"That's the line! I see it quite clearly," said Stynes.

"Well … get new glasses," said Kennerley.

Harris again tried to rein in the debate, asking the pair to refrain from name-calling. Kennerley insisted it had been a friendly disagreement.

"This is just an issue that Yumi and I have. There are probably 20 other things that we do agree on — this is just one that we don't," said Kennerley.

The steely glances between the pair suggested they might be hard pressed to find 20 other things they agree on.

As the episode ended, Harris addressed the earlier "fiery" conflict, saying they "make no apologies for it."

"Yumi and I had a difference of opinion, but that's called a mature society where you can have different opinions without name-calling. It's called TOLERANCE," said Kennerley.

Harris and Joe Hildebrand both repeatedly stressed that they were "all friends", before Kennerley called on Stynes, who had remained silent.

"Yumi, I'm looking for a comment back here."

"Well, you did say name-calling..." said Stynes.

"You called me a racist," said Kennerley.

"And you are implying that I did the wrong thing by saying that to you," Stynes continued — promising they would continue the debate in the next episode, and even offering Kennerley a sarcastic-sounding "love you" through gritted teeth. To be continued?

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