Australia

'Triple J should change their mind': Fifield to ask ABC board to 'reconsider' Hottest 100 decision

Communications minister Mitch Fifield has blasted the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for its 'dumb' decision to move a popular music countdown from Australia Day.

The Turnbull Government frontbencher accused the taxpayer-funded broadcaster of making a “political statement” by shifting the date of the Hottest 100 to the fourth weekend of every January, instead of January 26. 

The minister also confirmed he would formally ask the ABC's board to "reconsider". 

“This is just a really bad idea, it’s a dumb idea and Triple J should change their mind,” Senator Fifield told ABC Radio on Tuesday morning.

“This is an attempt to delegitimise Australia Day. Australia Day is January 26. That’s not going to change. It’s not going anywhere,” he said.  

Triple J’s management has denied a political motivation, saying the decision was taken after 60 per cent of those polled in a listener survey said they supported changing the date.

The youth radio network’s decision comes following a national campaign to change the date of the Hottest 100 that  focused on respecting the views of Indigenous Australians, many of whom consider January 26 a commemoration of the day colonial settlement began in Australia.

"You told us how much you love the countdown and most of you are up for a new day,” Triple J said of the decision.

“We all agreed that the Hottest 100 shouldn't be part of a debate about the day it's on. The only debate should be about the songs.”

Triple J said the countdown had not always been held on Australia Day, but Senator Fifield said there was no way to separate the issues. 

"For the past 20 years, the Triple J Hottest 100 has become part of the soundtrack of Australia Day. It’s something that Australians enjoy, it’s one of the fixed points of reference." 

Labor leader Bill Shorten said Senator Fifield should focus on more important matters within his portfolio.

“Today the NBN announced another delay in its disastrous rollout. But the Communications Minister is more worried about what day a radio station chooses to play some songs,” Mr Shorten wrote on Twitter.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale praised Triple J for the decision and said Coalition MPs were "hyperventilating" over the change. 

"Most of the pollies in this place wouldnt even know where Triple J is on the dial," he told reporters in Parliament House on Tuesday. 

Senator Di Natale said the move was the "start of a tidal wave" that would eventually see the date of Australia Day itself changed. 

"It won't be long that the date that we celebrate the coming together of all Australians won't be the date that Australia was invaded."

Assistant immigration minister Alex Hawke was asked – on Triple J – whether the ABC could face funding consequences for its decision.

Mr Hawke said only that the government would be “asking the questions”.