Red Symons
Red Symons Diggies99, Wikimedia Commons

Radio broadcaster Red Symons has apologised for asking fellow ABC broadcaster Beverley Wang if she’s “yellow.” He has admitted he came across as racist during the interview last week.

The Skyhooks guitarist was talking to Wang on his ABC Radio Melbourne breakfast show about the latter’s new podcast, “It’s Not a Race,” when he asked her, “What’s the deal with Asians?” He also asked her, “Are they all the same?” and if she was “yellow.” Symons proceeded to discuss Wang’s skin colour and nationality for the most part of the discussion, even telling her a parable about how races were made.

The edited version of the interview, which was aired Monday last week, came to the public’s attention on Friday when it was posted in full on the ABC website. The network has apologised for the incident and removed the interview podcast. It said it was undertaking a review of the editorial processes on content and its use.

Symons has also apologised for the interview, admitting that he sounded racist in the interview. “Last week on the program, I spoke to Beverley Wang about her new podcast, ‘It’s Not a Race,’” he said. “The plan was to take on a serious topic, race and culture, and talk with Beverley about a range of related issues. I came across as racist and I was wrong in the way I conducted the interview. This is not who I am, but I acknowledge on this occasion I caused offence and hurt, not only to Beverly but also to our listeners. I offer my sincerest apologies. We need to talk about these issues, but be careful how we consider them.”

The 20-minute exchange was described as a disaster by social media users, who said it was proof that Australia still has problem with race. Federal Labor MP Linda Burney said the ABC should discipline Symons for his “very racist overtones,” although she said he did not think he should be fired.