Sunrise host Natalie Barr has taken a swipe at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over Australia Day, during a tense interview with Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.
The host posed a rather pointed question to Mr Watt on Monday in the wake of Cricket Australia’s decision to avoid using the term “Australia Day” during its Gabba Test which will be played on January 26.
“Do you think most Australians are getting sick of this tiptoeing around Australia Day and there should be some leadership from the top so that we don’t have to all sort of be embarrassed about what we’re doing on that day?” Barr asked.
Her question was met with a swift response from the Senator who defended Mr Albanese.
“Well, I don’t see the Prime Minister being the one who’s getting out there leading some sort of debate about Australia Day,” Mr Watt began to answer.
“That’s what I mean. Should there be?” Barr interjected.
“Well no, I think it’s a democracy and people are entitled to their different views,” Mr Watt said.
He took aim at Opposition Leader Peter Dutton who called for Aussies to boycott Woolworths after the supermarket giant confirmed it was scrapping Australia Day merchandise.
“What I don’t think is right is what we saw from Peter Dutton a week or so ago, talking about using Australia Day and the position of a supermarket to boycott it, risking all of the jobs that exist in that supermarket,” Mr Watt said.
“As I say, we’re much more focused on things like the war on inflation, rather than culture wars and whether supermarkets sell the right kind of thongs.
“I think that that’s what most Australians want their government focused on as well.”
Cricket Australia announced on Monday the phrase “Australia Day” would not be used during the second Test between Australia and the West Indies in Brisbane this week.
CA will conduct a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony on day one of the Gabba Test, but the use of “Australia Day” will be avoided by the ground announcer.
The national governing body consulted with its Indigenous advisory board in the lead up to both the scheduling and the commemoration of January 26.
Woolworths and Big W also recently confirmed both retailers would drop Australia Day product ranges in 2024, citing a “gradual decline in demand” for the merchandise” in recent years.
However, the supermarket giant also conceded the decision was in part due to a “broader discussion about January 26 and what it means to different parts of the community”.
“We know many people like to use this day as a time to get together and we offer a huge variety of products to help customers mark the day as they choose,” a spokesperson said.
“Woolworths and Big W celebrate the best of Australia every day, and we’re proud to support the farmers, producers, and suppliers who work with us.”
Mr Dutton shared his displeasure over Woolworths’ decision when he spoke to 2GB radio at the time of the announcement.
“If they don’t want to celebrate Australia Day, well that’s a decision for them, but I think people should boycott Woolworths,” Mr Dutton said.
The Opposition Leader called on the Woolworths chief executive to reverse the decision.
“For Woolworths to start taking political positions to oppose Australia Day is against the national interest, the national spirit,” Mr Dutton said.