An Invasion Day protester has accused broadcaster Neil Mitchell of being a racist during an awkward interview on live radio.
An executive of the state-funded Koorie Youth Council, appeared on 3AW radio on Tuesday to promote an ‘Invasion Day’ protest planned in Melbourne’s centre on Friday.
The tension kicked off when Mitchell asked his guest, Tarnee Onus-Williams, if her protest group would cooperate with the police or council to minimise disruption
The tension kicked off when Mitchell asked his guest, Tarnee Onus-Williams (pictured), if her protest group would cooperate with the police or council to prevent disruption.
‘Yeah look, we are asserting our sovereign right to walk on our country because we are sovereign people to this land. At the moment we’re not organising with police,’ Ms Onus-Williams said.
‘So people can do things the way they like, and we like to do things we like to do.’
Mitchell asked Ms Onus-Williams if that meant she ignored ‘white man’s law’.
‘On that basis you can say the aboriginal people can do whatever they like and just ignore the law of the land,’ he said.
Ms Onus-Williams replied saying ‘we have a law of the land already, we do hold our values strong to our heart’.
Mitchell went on to question Ms Onus-Williams about the state-funded Koorie Youth Council, on which she was an executive.
‘The Koorie Youth Council is actively promoting the rally and Invasion Day line on its Facebook page, it’s urging people to be involved, it’s promoting it. This is a state-funded organisation that in a sense is using public money to promote an Invasion Day rally,’ he said.
‘Is that legitimate use of public money?’
Ms Onus-Williams refused to answer the questions, saying she had ‘no comment’.
‘I don’t want to. I have free speech, I don’t have to answer a question,’ she said.
The young aboriginal executive told Mitchell she was on his show to talk about the Invasion Day protest and refused to answer his questions about state funding.
She went on to tell Mitchell about the rally, before she was cut off by the broadcaster.
‘We’ve been protesting for 80 years this year, 80 years ago they held a conference protesting the treatment of aboriginal people in this country,’ she said.
She said the rally was protesting the abolition of Australia Day, not just pushing for the date to be moved.
Mitchell cut in saying: ‘you’re happy to interview yourself, but that’s not the way it works’.
A shocked Mitchell (pictured) said, ‘did you just call me a racist?’ to which Ms Onus-Williams replied, ‘Yes I called you a racist’
The interview descended into chaos when Ms Onus-Williams said she would not ‘take orders’ from Mitchell.
‘I won’t take orders from a radio host on a racist radio channel,’ she said.
A shocked Mitchell said, ‘did you just call me a racist?’ to which Ms Onus-Williams replied, ‘Yes, I called you a racist’.
‘You’re questioning my legitimacy as a sovereign person of this land,’ she said.
Mitchell told her he was offended by the accusation, saying it was ‘ugly to throw around the word racist’.
‘I’m questioning you not because you’re black or yellow or white, but because you’re in a position organising a rally which is significant to this town around a significant issue which is the future of Australia Day,’ he said.
‘It does not make me racist to ask you a bloody question and to call me a racist is damn offensive.
‘Please please please don’t assume that questioning equates with racism, that really is quite offensive intellectually and morally.’
Ms Onus-Williams told Mitchell to ‘settle down’ because he was ‘going on a bit of a rampage’.
She went on to tell Mitchell he should ‘get more comfortable’ with being called a racist.
‘You’re not being very nice to me this morning, you’re being quite rude,’ she said.
The pair parted ways amiably, with Mitchell thanking Ms Onus-Williams for appearing on his show ahead of the Australia Day protest.