Australia’s first indigenous TV host has slammed the ABC for not having an Aboriginal reporter on its longest-running program.
Stan Grant made history in 1992 when he fronted the Seven Network’s Real Life as the first indigenous presenter of a national, prime-time current affairs program.
Almost three decades later, the ABC’s flagship current affairs show Four Corners had still not had an indigenous reporter despite being on air since 1961 – making it the national broadcaster’s longest continually-running program.
Australia’s first indigenous TV host has slammed the ABC for not having an Aboriginal reporter on its longest-running program. Pictured is Stan Grant as a guest reporter on Four Corners
Grant, a Wiradjuri man born in 1963, made this point as he presented a Black Lives Matter special on the national broadcaster, examining high Aboriginal imprisonment rates and Australia’s racist legacy.
‘Turn on the television and the faces you’ll see – still mostly white,’ he said.
‘Four Corners has been on air more years than I have been alive and I am the first indigenous person ever to report for it.
‘And when we do break through that colour line we are expected to be grateful and humble.’
Grant, who grew up in south-west New South Wales, saw a link between the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police and the brutal treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia’s criminal justice system.
‘We have heard George Floyd’s words here in Australian prisons,’ he said.
His mother Betty made an appearance, recalling through poetry the racism she experienced as an Aboriginal girl.
‘We lived outside of town in funny little shacks,’ she said.
‘We know we were talked about and called those dirty blacks.’
His father Stan Grant senior lamented how white Australia had tried to kill off his Wiradjuri language.
‘If you don’t have a language, you’re a nobody. If we keep speaking English, we might as well be poms, mate,’ he said.
‘They tried to get the language off us, out of us in the first place, that’s why we lost our language.’
Stan Grant made history in 1992 when he fronted the Seven Network’s current affairs program Real Life as the first indigenous presenter of a prime-time television program
Unlike the ABC’s Four Corners program, the Seven Network and American news channel CNN had long ago appreciated Grant’s talent, hiring him as an international correspondent.
During the 1990s, the Seven Network had two high-profile indigenous presenters with Grant hosting Real Life and later Today Tonight, as acclaimed actor Ernie Dingo fronted The Great Outdoors travel show.
Grant resigned as a Seven presenter in 2000, weeks before the Sydney Olympics, after his affair with the commercial network’s sports commentator Tracey Holmes was revealed. They later married.
Grant’s ex-wife Karla Grant was herself a television pioneer, in 1994 hosting SBS’s first indigenous affairs program ICAM.
Grant resigned as a Seven presenter in 2000, weeks before the Sydney Olympics, after his affair with the commercial network’s sports commentator Tracey Holmes was revealed. They later married and are pictured at the GQ Men of the Year awards in 2016
A decade later in 2007, SBS employed Stan Grant as a co-presenter of its World News Australia program, before he helped establish the multicultural broadcaster’s National Indigenous TV offshoot, also known as NITV.
The ABC hasn’t had any indigenous presenters of its national flagship programs Four Corners, 7.30, Foreign Correspondent, Q&A or Insiders.
Miriam Corowa, who is Aboriginal, however co-hosted the ABC’s News Breakfast show between 2011 and 2017 and was also a presenter on the News 24 channel.
In Darwin, future Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy fronted the evening ABC TV News between 1993 and 2005 when she was known as Barbara McCarthy.
Network 10 in Perth made history in 2008 when Narelda Jacobs became the first indigenous newsreader for a prime-time capital-city bulletin.