The ratings will come... They'll come, and it's a natural thing with any show that there's ups and downs. When you're building an audience, especially when you've got a new show like that with two female hosts and you've got the first Aboriginal person on breakfast TV, it's a different audience that you're after, it's something new that you're building and that takes time. Focusing on short-term goals is never a good strategy... Yeah, you're chasing your tail. I reckon that there's a real risk if you start looking at the ratings minute by minute, or you start looking at every single thing that you're doing, and I don't want to adapt my personality to try to win the most viewers or to change who I am to try to fit in with that because I think people either like you or they don't. There's a real risk if you pay too much attention to that. Obviously we want to win, and we want to win back people after a rough couple of years, but someone else will let me know. How's the transition been from ABC, SBS, and NITV into mainstream Channel Nine? It's really different. It's really, really different. It's a different sort of job I'm doing as well, but I feel like I've got... this is going to sound weird, but I feel like I've got a lot more freedom now than what I've ever had before, and it could be because, when you're working at ABC or SBS, you're always really aware of the fact that you're government funded and so you're kind of hamstrung by what you can and can't say. So, for example, the stuff I talked about at the start of the year about the Australia Day stuff... That was my next question... Yeah, well, good segue into it! I'm reading your mind. You know, for instance, I don't think I would have felt as comfortable saying that stuff on ABC or SBS, because then you're always
38 The Beast August 2019
scared that they could take your funding away or that you could be penalised for saying something the government doesn't like. But on Nine, they're just like, “You go for it, you be yourself, you do what you do,” and that was sort of where we ended up with that.
"I've spoken about this stuff and thought about it very deeply for a very long time, so it wasn't difficult for me to pull together a few sentences on what I thought about it, why I care about it." So, just days into your new gig on Today back in January, you found yourself in the centre of controversy with your comments on Australia Day: "I'm a Gamilaroi woman. My family is from northern New South Wales, been there for about sixty thousand years or so," you calmly explained. "This date, I know it comes up every year, and I'm not trying to tell everyone else what they should be doing, but I can't separate the 26th of January from the fact that my brothers are more likely to go to jail than they are to go to school, or that my little sisters and my mum are more likely to be beaten and raped than anyone else's sisters or mum, and that started from that day." Firstly, had you planned on saying that or did it just come to you in the moment? Well, the day before, we knew that the Pat Cash story was going to be played, so my boss Berlo called me and was like, “Hey, you know, we should get you involved in this segment. You want to have a yarn about it afterwards, what you think about the day or whatever?” I was like, “Okay, yeah, this is what I think about it, this
is what I'll say,” and he was like, “Yep, sounds good.” Then I just got on air and sort of went for it. It was completely off the cuff, it wasn't scripted or anything, but it's easier to come up with things like that, or to talk about that sort of stuff, when it's what you believe. I've spoken about this stuff and thought about it very deeply for a very long time, so it wasn't difficult for me to pull together a few sentences on what I thought about it, why I care about it. When I say to people, "I think we should change the date, or at least have a discussion about it," they often reply with, "Well, when would you have it?" If Australia Day were to change, what date would be preferable? Well, the natural day for me would be the day of federation, which is the first of January, and then just whack an extra public holiday on the end so you're not losing any extra public holidays in the summer - you can sort of just stretch it out a bit. I think that would work well. You have to think about things like that. You don't want to have a national day in winter when we are a sun-loving, outdoorsy people. We want to be able to get out there and celebrate it, so I reckon that fits pretty well, but then there might be people who are like, “Federation is when they excluded us from the constitution, so that's just as bad,” or whatever. I think that the brutality of the 26th is the thing that sticks out to me the most and that's why I have that problem with it. Sitting here in Bronte Surf Club looking at the ocean, sometimes when I sit up there in Tamarama, up near Marks Park, I think about what it would have been like to see all those ships coming towards the bay, or about how different people's lives would have been then compared to forty years later. Think about it, just living your life, spearfishing, having a great time swimming
The August 2019 edition of The Beast featuring Brooke Boney...