Former 7.30 Report and Four Corners host Kerry O’Brien has been given a standing ovation as he was inducted into the Logies Hall of Fame.
The forthright O’Brien used his speech to call for the ABC to be defended and for real reconciliation with Australia’s indigenous people.
“The ABC is still forging its way through strong headwinds, probably never threatened more than it is today by a combination of forces – cash-strapped in a totally disrupted digitally-driven industry and still confronting the same, sad, ideological (arguments),” he said.
And while the veteran broadcaster remains hopeful for his embattled industry, he worried about the depletion of learned experience within newsrooms around the country.
“This is not a great time for the industry, it’s a time where resources are diminishing, where the best and most experienced talent either take early redundancy or are being shown the door,” he told reporters.
He said proprietors were filling bureaus with young, inexpensive journalists who were losing out on their mentors, people he had learned so much from during his early career.
He also called on the Australian public to fight for the ABC, citing the recent AFP raids on the broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters.
“Don’t ever again allow politicians to diminish the public broadcaster. It is one of the most precious institutions we have.”
O’Brien has worked for all commercial television stations and the ABC, which he described as his natural home.
“The pursuit of excellence wasn’t just permitted, it was expected,” he said.
“My message to every person working in Aunty’s embrace today is simple: keep your heads held high and your eye firmly fixed on delivering programs of relevance, quality and integrity for people in every corner of Australia.”
O’Brien has also won six Walkley Awards, one of them gold, and is a member of the Australian Media Hall of Fame.