Kerri-Anne Kennerley reignited her long-running feud with Yumi Stynes at the Women of the Future Awards in Sydney on Wednesday.
The 68-year-old media doyenne – who was called ‘racist’ by Stynes during a heated debate about Australia Day protests on Studio 10 in 2019 – said she was still ‘hurt’ over the incident, just moments before the pair awkwardly came face to face at the luncheon.
Prior to their reunion, Kennerley told Daily Mail Australia she ‘hadn’t seen’ the KIIS FM host since she attacked her on air two years ago.
Back on: Kerri-Anne Kennerley, left, reignited her long-running feud with Yumi Stynes, right, at the Women of the Future Awards in Sydney on Wednesday, after the radio star called her ‘racist’ two years ago
‘I haven’t seen her since that day. She didn’t turn up for work the next day. She was booked to do three days, and that night she text our executive producer and said: “I think I’m having a day off” and never turned up,’ she said.
When asked if she was planning on speaking to Stynes at Wednesday’s event, Kennerley said: ‘Well, yeah. I’m not anti. I’m not embarrassed about what happened, what I said and how I reacted. I have no issue.
‘She’s powerful with what she said – but I will not say that it wasn’t hurtful to be called a racist.’
Two years ago, the two women confronted each other on-air during a Studio 10 discussion about protests against Australia Day.
During the debate Kennerley said indigenous protestors and their supporters should be more concerned with the dire state of many Aboriginal communities instead of focusing on the date.
Intense: During the star-studded event, Kennerley and Stynes were seen in an intense discussion before sitting down for a meal
Expressive: It’s not known what they were discussing, but Kennerley seemed particularly animated as she passionately raised her hands to express her feelings
‘The 5,000 people who went through the streets making their points known, saying how inappropriate the day is – has any single one of those people been out to the Outback, where children, babies, five-year-olds, are being raped?’ Kennerley said at the time.
‘Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped. They get no education. What have you done?’
After a pause, Stynes then attacked Kennerley’s comments.
‘That is not even faintly true, Kerri-Anne. You’re sounding quite racist right now,’ she said.
Kennerley responded by stating she was offended – but Stynes doubled down on her insult.
‘Well keep going then, because every time you open your mouth you’re sounding racist,’ Stynes said.
Speaking at Wednesday’s event, Kerri-Anne insisted her comments were not racist.
‘I actually went to the dictionary and looked what racist means. Thinking that any other culture, society or people are beneath you,’ she said.
‘My whole point was: Women and children of an Indigenous culture are 35 times more likely to be murdered or abused. That still stands to this day. How come we can’t do anything about it?
Heated debate: Two years ago, Kennerley and Stynes confronted each other on air during a Studio 10 discussion about protests against Australia Day, with Kennerley saying indigenous protestors and their supporters should be more concerned with the dire state of many Aboriginal communities instead of focusing on the date
‘So yes, we can parade down streets about a lot of issues, but that’s a pretty important one and it’s happening every day.
‘Children and women are being raped and murdered every single day. It’s still going on, but you’re just not allowed to say it if you’re white.’
Kennerley went on to say that she ‘doesn’t want to get involved in all that anymore’ as she is ‘having a really nice life’.
But in a cutting dig to Stynes, she added: ‘That said, unfortunately the problem is still the same and it hasn’t changed.
‘So when are the Yumi Stynes of the world going to do something about it?’
‘That’s going to stir it up,’ she concluded, adding: ‘I will never be stopped from saying what I feel.’
Following her comments, Kennerley and Stynes were seen having an intense discussion before sitting down for a meal at the event, which was held at the Sydney Opera House.
It’s not known what they were taking about, but Kennerley seemed particularly animated as she passionately raised her hands to express her feelings while Stynes crossed her arms.
Stynes – who recently announced she’d split with her husband Martin Bendeler on live radio – didn’t walk the red carpet at the event while Kennerley posed with other female media identities.
At the time of the pair’s heated debate back in 2019, Kennerley wasn’t prepared to cede any ground.
She went after the Australia Day protesters who she accused of only caring one day of the year.
‘These people are desperate for help. Aboriginal elder women are desperate for help, and they’re not getting it,’ she said at the time.
‘Where are these people doing [other than] one day of the year? You’d be better off doing something positive.’
With the argument threatening to boil over, host Sarah Harris tried to defuse the situation.
‘Take it back a notch… everything’s going to be cool,’ she interjected.
Low profile: Stynes – who recently announced she’d split with her husband Martin Bendeler on live radio – didn’t take to the red carpet at the event
She tried to say that it is an issue that really ‘fires people up’, but maintained ‘everyone has their hearts in the right places and everyone wants to do the right thing’.
Stynes told Kennerley many of the protesters would have previously gone out into the Indigenous communities, but Kennerley demanded exact numbers.
She also claimed Kennerley was glossing over women and children also being raped in cities, stating it wasn’t just a rural problem.
Kennerley insisted she wasn’t racist just because she ‘had a point of view’, but Stynes objected to her making assumptions about 5,000 people.
‘Yeah, you’re actually connecting rape, child abuse, you’re drawing a straight line… and you’re implying those 5000 protesters, none of whom you know personally, are all lazy and idle,’ she said.
‘You’re asking if any of them have ever done anything as though it’s clear they haven’t.’
Kennerley in turn accused her of ‘drawing a line that isn’t there’, but Stynes said she ‘saw it quite clearly’.
‘Well… get new glasses,’ Kennerley snapped back as Stynes sat stony-faced and stared out at the audience.
Following the conflict from her comments, Kennerley was invited to spend time with Indigenous women in the outback of Alice Springs.
During her time there she spent several days with Shirleen Campbell and the Tangentyere Women’s Family Safety Group, which she labelled a ‘great experience’.
Stynes, whose mother is Japanese, campaigns on race and feminism issues along with being a broadcaster and writer.
The Australian Women’s Weekly, in partnership with La Trobe Financial, hosted the 9th annual Women of the Future Awards lunch and ceremony, recognising and celebrating young Australian female trailblazers, at Sydney’s Opera House.
Since 2013, the Women of the Future awards have been helping exceptional young women aged between 18 and 34 develop projects that transform lives.
This year there was a spectacular array of impressive entries, with strong themes around disability, conservation, and consent.
Celebration: The Australian Women’s Weekly, in partnership with La Trobe Financial, hosted the 9th annual Women of the Future Awards lunch and ceremony, recognising and celebrating young Australian female trailblazers, at Sydney’s Opera House. Pictured: Yumi Stynes