While the debate over the date of Australia Day rages at a national level, it is happening in microcosm on the airwaves of our national youth broadcaster.
Since its inception in 1998, Triple J‘s annual Hottest 100 has been broadcast on the divisive January 26 public holiday, which holds painful significance for Indigenous Australians.
This year, the broadcaster engaged in “serious talks” over whether or not to continue the tradition or hold the countdown on another, more inclusive day.
Yesterday, Triple J listeners sent a powerful message about where they stand on the issue by voting A.B. Original’s protest song January 26 into the top 20.
The group is comprised of Indigenous hip-hop artist Adam Briggs and producer Adam “Trials” Rankine.
Their politically-charged hit, which features Dan Sultan, nabbed the number 16 spot on the list.
Watch the clip here (post continues after video):
Speaking to Triple J after the song played yesterday afternoon, Briggs shared his feelings on what many refer to as “Invasion Day” or “Survival Day”.
“Australia Day is a very apprehensive day – and that’s putting it mildly – for the Indigenous people of the country,” he said.
“The main objective and what we’re striving for regardless of our point of view is to move forward, and move forward in a way that’s respectful.”
Of the 197 countries in the world that celebrate a ‘national day’, Australia is the only one that celebrates the day it was colonised – an act which led to the death of an estimated 90 per cent of its native population.
More than two million people voted in the Hottest 100 this year, so for January 26 (which asks: “How you wanna raise a flag with a rifle, to make us want to celebrate anything other than survival?”) to rank as high as it did, it mustered a massive number of votes.
Many, including Briggs, pointed out the significance of the win on Twitter last night.
Greens MP Adam Bandt, said the groundswell of support for the track sent the “loudest of messages” to those in power.
While comedian, and former host of Triple J‘s Breakfast program, Tom Ballard joked listeners were bopping their heads to irony.
Late last year, more than 500o people signed an online petition to change the date of the Hottest 100 out of respect to Indigenous Australians.
The broadcaster acknowledged the push, but decided the controversial date would remain, at least for the time being.
Perhaps in 2018, they’ll reconsider.
Feature image: Instagram/@__hughes103__
Listen: Zan Rowe shares her best Hottest 100-bluffing tips on Mamamia Out Loud.