EPAStan Grant (second from right)
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 18:48
The prominent Australian presenter Stan Grant is resigning for the time being. He was inundated with snide comments after explaining how King Charles’s coronation is coming across to Aboriginal people like himself. What was intended to be an awkward outpouring straight from the heart was called whining at the wrong time by critics.
Grant was invited to appear on the ABC debate program The Coronation: A Discussion on the Monarchy in 2023, immediately prior to the ceremony in London. While footage of the final preparations for Westminster Abbey was shown, the studio talked about what “a monarchy wrestling with its legacy and future” means in today’s Australia.
The 59-year-old Grant, who presents the authoritative talk show Q+A, was now one of the guests himself, in addition to, for example, a monarchist, a republican and a professor of constitutional law. Royalist Australians had already expressed dissatisfaction in advance that mainly critical guests had been invited.
Australia correspondent Meike Wijers:
“Stan Grant’s departure has hit Australian public broadcaster ABC hard. He is one of the most prominent Aboriginal journalists in the country. For years he has spoken out about Australia’s black colonial past. In a famous speech in 2016, which went viral, he said that racism is at the root of the ‘Australian dream’.
The Aboriginal population is still often disadvantaged and has to deal with (institutional) racism. Indigenous people live an average of ten years less, suicide is twice as common and Aboriginal people make up a disproportionate share of the prison population.”
Asked if the coronation also symbolized stability, continuity and tradition for him, Grant denied. “The crown weighs on us as indigenous people.”
“Australia has tried to erase Indigenous heritage,” he continued. “That crown symbolizes invasion, theft of land and a war of extermination. The consequences of this are still clearly visible.”
Grant told of his own family’s experiences: how his grandfather had fought in World War II, but when he returned home despite his uniform, he was refused boarding the train and was not allowed into the pub to drink with his comrades-in-arms. Because of the lack of attention for those stories, he spoke of a fantasy Australia with a Disney version of history.
While some called the stinging remarks in retrospect, others decried the timing. His criticism did not go well with the festive atmosphere, one commenter said. “Who thought of showing images of London while we’re giving the royal family out of the bag?”
One conservative commentator opined that ABC had named Grant “number one whiner.” “It’s a shame that so many see only the downsides of Britain’s expansion and ignore the many benefits they derive from it every day.” Things got even more hateful on social media.
Grant says he only wanted to tell the truth. “Hard truths. But truths without hate – just out of love. Yes love. Love for the Australia we never were.”
“Australia is the only Commonwealth country that has no treaty with the Indigenous people, who are still the poorest and most confined under this crown. We cannot pretend that Australia has transcended this. We owe it to ourselves to do better. “
Grant regrets that his words came out wrong, but he also writes that he is bitter that no one at ABC stood up to the wave of criticism. “No executive has publicly contradicted the lies about me. I don’t hold individuals responsible for that, this is a system error.”
Bridges instead of trenches
He even concludes that this debate, precisely in a year when Australia is allowed to vote in a referendum on more influence for Aboriginal people, cannot possibly be conducted in the media. “Every discussion should become an attraction.”
“I’m taking a step back because it turns out that our history – our hard truth – is too big, too fragile and too valuable for the media. Media only see trenches, not bridges. Only politics. But not everything is political. Things remain sacred . Our stories are sacred.”
Australia correspondent Meike Wijers:
“It is known that Grant often received racist comments, especially on social media. The fact that he also feels unsupported within the public service broadcaster is painful for the top of ABC. Grant had previously complained about the lack of diversity in the public broadcaster. The management will be forced to reflect on itself in the coming period due to his departure.