Sunrise’s Natalie Barr and Kochie’s fights are ‘absolutely real’


Fake news is rampant, but reports on quarrels at Channel Seven’s Sunrise are no sham.

“We absolutely fight. Do you think we sit there and agree on everything? We are like a family and we argue like one too,” laughed Sunrise newsreader Natalie Barr to Fairfax Media this week as she promoted the government’s new Return Unwanted Medicines campaign.

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Barr, 49, and host David “Kochie” Koch, 61, made headlines last month when they clashed during a rent or buy debate. In another heated exchange the day before, Kochie scolded Barr and co-host Samantha Armytage, 40, for being “nasty” when they joked that Amal Clooney would be back to her pre-pregnancy weight by lunchtime after the birth of twins.

When asked if the feuds were all authentic, the good-humoured Bunbury-native laughed again: “They are absolutely real. We argue all of the time and we have differences of opinion every day of the week. Sometimes when we disagree it will still be going into the ad break. I don’t even get why that is even an issue.”

But what happens on air stays on air. “We always have a chat afterwards. I spent 12 years at Catholic school, I have built-in guilt, so every time I have a heated discussion I wonder after, ‘did I go too far?’ and [Kochie] always says: ‘No, don’t be silly’,” she said.

Their warts-and-all approach might be the secret to their success with Sunrise triumphing in the breakfast television wars for the past 14 consecutive years – the entire time Barr has been with the show – and they are set to claim victory again this year.

Barr believes what keeps the public choosing Sunrise over its its arch-rival Today on Channel Nine is their mix of the good with the bad.

“We still have to report the news, and I would love us not to sometimes, but we don’t have to dwell on it for four hours. What we are doing are more good stories, human interest stories, feel-good Friday, more good stories about good Australians, and people are loving it.”

Others suggest that Today’s position is not helped by countless headlines about host Karl Stefanovic stepping out in public with his new girlfriend Jasmine Yarbrough shortly after his marriage split.

When asked if she thought it was fair on Stefanovic, she said: “I really don’t concentrate on that.”

One topic she has been concentrating on is the BBC’s pay gap controversy, which is raising eyebrows over stark contrasts between the pay of men and women, with its top male star earning five times more than its best-paid female presenter.

“It’s ridiculous. If you are doing the same job you should be getting the same pay,” Barr said.

We are like a family and we argue like one too.

She doesn’t know what her counterparts are earning. “No one really talks about it because we go in and we negotiate on what we think is fair,” she said.

The pay gap revelations come as no real surprise in an industry known for being sexist and ageist, something Barr says she has not experienced after 30 years of work.

“I worked in local newspapers, local television stations, radio, and now, one of the biggest, supposed sexist, media organisations in the country and I just have not experienced it myself, so you can only go on what you have found,” she said.

With the future of television changing, could she ever see an all-female Sunrise panel?

“Now that would be highly sexist and I think it would be wrong,” she said. “I think it would be terrible to have all men or all women. I think you need both sets of opinions. How boring would it be to have all women or all men? I think you need both perspectives.”

Barr, a mother to Lachlan, almost 16, and Hunter, 12, is ambassador for a new initiative that urges Australians to return unwanted or old medicines to the pharmacy.

“People keep them because they pay so much money for them, even past a sell-by date or without the proper packaging but they can be dangerous with more than 5000 children ending up in hospital due to accidental poisonings each year.”

“Don’t flush it or put in the bin or down the sink, because it wrecks the environment, instead return the medicines to a community pharmacy. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s safe.”

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