Protests in Australia after TV host's 'racist' outburst

An Australian TV host has been labelled 'racist' over comments she made about sexual violence within Aboriginal communities.

Kerrie-Anne Kennerley, a well-known presenter on morning talk show Studio 10, appeared on the show's panel on Monday (local time) to discuss the increasingly controversial Australia Day.

The #ChangeTheDate movement has grown in strength in the past few years, with many saying the national day - which marks the anniversary of the arrival of the British fleet in 1788 - represents the beginning of the genocide of Australia's indigenous population.

Thousands took part in 'Invasion Day' marches around the country on Saturday.

Kennerley expressed her disapproval of the protests, claiming those who want to change the date are ignoring the problems faced by Aboriginal people.

"Has any single one of those 5000 people waving the flags saying how inappropriate the day is, has any one of them been out to the outback where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped?" she said on the panel.

"Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done? Zippo."

Her remarks were immediately challenged by fellow panelist Yumi Stynes, a TV and radio presenter.

"That is not even faintly true Kerri-Anne, and you're sounding quite racist right now," she said.

Stynes' comment drew gasps from the rest of the panel.

"I'm offended by that, Yumi," Kennerley said.

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

Kennerley reiterated that she was "seriously offended" by the accusation, and said elderly Aboriginal women were "desperate for help".

"You'd be better off going and doing something positive," she said of the protesters.

Despite efforts from the panel's moderator to cool things down, the fiery clash continued.

"The implication is that women aren't being raped here in big cities and children aren't being raped here in big cities," said Stynes.

"By that statement, you're actually implying that those 5000 protesters, none of whom you know personally, are all lazy and idle and indolent."

"Don't draw a line that isn't there," retorted Kennerley.

On her own radio show, Stynes later claimed that Kennerley had also said Aboriginal people "need to get over it" in a muttered remark that hadn't made it to air.

She backed out of a scheduled appearance on Studio 10 on Tuesday, saying she would have been "walking into a trap".

The altercation marked an escalation in the country-wide debate over Australia Day. Many on social media have voiced their support for Stynes, saying Kennerley had been racist in connecting Aboriginal people with increased rates of rape.

On Tuesday morning a group of protesters, many carrying or wearing the Aboriginal flag, gathered outside the Sydney studio where the panel was filmed. Carrying signs with phrases such as 'Kerry Anne KKKennerley', they demanded an apology from the TV presenter.

There has also been a backlash against Stynes, who has received death threats and offensive messages online.


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