Sunrise has admitted to using a “generic backdrop” to hide hundreds of protestors rallying outside its Sydney studio in response to a commentary segment where a participant called for the removal of Aboriginal children.
More than 100 protesters, including Indigenous leaders, gathered outside Channel Seven’s Sydney studio in Martin Place on Friday morning after panellists on Sunrise’s ‘Hot Topic’ segment on Tuesday appeared to justify the Stolen Generation.
A Seven spokesperson for Sunrise told The New Daily they respected the group’s right to protest “as much as we respect the right to free speech”.
Protestors gathered outside the studio, holding the Aboriginal flag and signs such as ‘Sunlies’ and ‘Stop Stealing Our Kids’, but they did not appear in the background of the show’s broadcast.
“Some of the group were holding offensive signage, and some began banging on the window mouthing obscenities,” the Seven spokesperson explained in a statement.
“To ensure regulatory compliance, and bearing in mind the potential for young children to be watching, the decision was made to utilise a generic backdrop.”
During the Tuesday show, panellist Prue MacSween, a former journalist, said removing at-risk Indigenous children from their homes was a “no-brainer”.
She said Australia shouldn’t be deterred by political correctness and argued it was better to remove Aboriginal children from a “dangerous situation”.
“Just like the first Stolen Generation where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again,” she said.
Host Samantha Armytage had invited Ms MacSween and Ben Davis, a former sports presenter, to respond to comments made by federal Children’s Minister David Gillespie.
News Corp reported that Mr Gillespie had called for rule changes to allow abused Indigenous children to be adopted by white families.
“If a child is being raped, we can’t just say it’s OK on cultural grounds,” Dr Gillespie was quoted as saying in The Courier Mail.
Mr Gillespie had suggested Aboriginal children could be put up for adoption to save them from rape, assault and neglect.
Naomi Murphy of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service told The New Daily she was “gobsmacked” by the comments made on Sunrise and said she believed the White Australia Policy was “thriving” in 2018.
Ms Murphy said her mother was a part of the Stolen Generation, but had been removed from her family because of her skin colour, not because she had been abused.
“Aboriginal people need support and acknowledgement and agencies need to help families in distressing situations.”
Since the public backlash Channel Seven has deleted the segment from social media.
Ms Armytage also spoke out in a since-deleted tweet, urging the public to, “watch the video before you comment, so you know what actually happened”.
The New Daily has asked Channel Seven if Sunrise intends to issue an apology or retraction for comments made about the Stolen Generation. They had not responded at the time of publication.