29 November, 2014. 12:24
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | [email protected]
THE ABC IS planning to cancel local current affairs programs in the coming weeks after it’s content offended Malcolm Turnbull.
First on the chopping block are local and international current affairs shows, such as local editions of 7.30 and world news program Foreign Correspondent.
When veteran ABC broadcaster, Quentin Dempster, says “bye-bye” in his Queensland, boy-from-the-bush way next Friday night, it will be for the last time.
After more than 30 years with the national public broadcaster, Dempster told viewers on Friday night that he plans to go out with a “bang”.
“Next Friday will be the final edition of 7.30 NSW,”
Last Friday night, 7.30 NSW aired discussion that showed that both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey had broken election promises – sending Mr Turnbull in to a rage.
The Minister was informed of the show’s content by friends while at a dinner. He tuned in to watch the show, which was being transmitted on ABC2, and was so offended by its content that he phoned the studio operators and shouted, “Get that shit off the air!”
Within minutes, 7.30 NSW pulled.
After the break, the ABC announced that it was not able to continue airing the show, allegedly due to ‘a technical problem’, and aired re-runs of Agatha Christie’s Poirot immediately afterwards to fill in the remaining airtime.
The day after the program aired, a furious Turnbull showed up at ABC’s Ultimo headquarters. He held meetings in which he loudly berated ABC’s managers and censors, referring to the program as “disgusting and offensive shit.”
Dempster and many of the staff who were involved with the creation of the program were fired, and Dempster is banned for life from the ABC.
In 1992, Dempster was awarded the Order of Australia for services to the media, “particularly in the fields of journalism and current affairs”. Ten years later, he was honoured with a Walkley Award for the “most outstanding contribution to journalism”.
Dempster started his journalism career in newspapers and was chief political reporter at The Telegraph in Brisbane before joining the ABC in 1984. Within three years he was fronting 7.30 Report in Queensland.
While covering the Fitzgerald inquiry into police and political corruption, he wrote daily re-enactments and analysis to break down its complex evidence in a way that was easy for viewers to understand.
In 1990, after moving to Sydney to host 7.30 Report in NSW, he turned his attention to police corruption in NSW while covering the Wood royal commission.
He is the author of several books including Honest Cops, Whistleblowers and Death Struggle.
An active member of MEAA, the journalists’ union, he was also a staff-elected director of the board of the ABC.