Today’s Brooke Boney addresses Pauline Hanson’s axing: ‘I am so happy to see her gone’

The Today Show’s entertainment reporter and Gamilaroi/Gomeroi woman Brooke Boney has responded to Nine’s decision to cut Pauline Hanson from its contributor lineup, saying she is “so happy” to see Hanson axed.

Speaking on ABC’s Q+A, Boney said some of the comments made by Hanson had left her heartbroken.

On Monday morning, Hanson appeared in her regular slot on Today and said the residents trapped in the Melbourne housing commission high-rises were “drug addicts” and “alcoholics” and “didn’t speak English” which is why there were being locked in their homes.

Following a video question asking about the backlash, Q+A host Hamish Macdonald asked Boney what she had thought of the comments by Hanson.

“I felt completely heartbroken, I grew up in housing commission. I was thinking about all those kids sitting at home and watching or all of those people trapped in their apartments watching and thinking ‘This is what Australia thinks of us, this is what the rest of our country thinks, that we’re alcoholics and drug addicts’. And that’s disgusting,” said Boney.

“I’m all for free speech and I think when people have different perspectives and different opinions, most of the time it does drive argument forward, or debate forward, or policy forward. But when you use it to vilify people or to be deliberately mean spirited, that to me is disgusting.”

The panel, which also featured Mad As Hell host Shaun Micallef, shadow minister for the environment and water Terri Butler, and former politician Christopher Pyne, debated whether there was a place for the opinions of people like Hanson in the media landscape. Boney argued that the comments online proved Hanson was representing her electorate and people who believed the same things she did. Butler disagreed.

“I think that’s a bit of a cop-out, she’s been a public racist since 1996. She used her first maiden speech to say we were in danger of being swamped by Asians and she used her second maiden speech to say we were in danger of being swamped by Muslims. We’re talking about someone here who didn’t just wake up this morning and for the first time say something racist and shows have been platforming her. Free speech is one thing, elevating racism in the discourse is another,” said Butler.

Prior to her regular slot on Today, Hanson was a regular commentator for Seven’s Sunrise. She left that position after an altercation with host David Koch following her comments after the Christchurch massacre.

Macdonald asked why now was the time to remove her from the media circuit, when she’d been voicing questionable views for years. Boney said Hanson’s time had come, but Pyne argued ratings would always win.

“Ratings is very much the priority of those kinds of shows, or most commercial television, because they want to sell advertising. Pauline Hanson does very well for ratings because she’ll say these kind of totally inappropriate things,” said Pyne.

The final word on the topic was Boney’s, who said Hanson’s report card on morning TV was more than enough to see her removed.

“I am so happy to see her gone. She says awful things about Aboriginal people too that really upset me. And it’s not about me being upset, it’s about someone intentionally being divisive. And they’re ill-informed, they’re just not true, the things that she says. And that’s what’s really upsetting.”

The panel also debated the decision to remove Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High and Jonah from Tonga from the ABC Iview and Netflix libraries. The wide-ranging conversation, which also touched on the future of statues and the representation of Indigenous people in history, ultimately decided history shouldn’t be censored, but that Lilley’s modern use of racial stereotypes and brownface should never have been supported.

The panel was also asked about the importance of satire and parody, with a question asked about Mad As Hell and the Betoota Advocate and the belief that they better reflect the news than the ‘mainstream media’.

“I only know what I read in the newspaper and see on programs like this, I don’t have any special insight,” said Micallef.

“All we try and do is present as much information as possible in as few words as [are needed] to set up the joke essentially.”

Boney debated the idea that mainstream media doesn’t provide the information consumers want, or sells them incorrect or biased information.

“It’s really difficult to see mainstream media always blamed for not delivering news content to people. We get minute by minute breakdowns, we get ratings, we deliver the content that people demand. If you want more excellent content, vote with your feet. Buy newspapers, watch the shows you like and more of them will be made. This isn’t some sort of secret ploy for news content to suffer or something like that. People get what they want,” said Boney.


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