Outgoing Insiders host Barrie Cassidy says he is “chuffed” that Sky News political editor David Speers looks set to take over the reins of the Sunday morning political discussion program he created more than 18 years ago.
The ABC is yet to officially confirm reports of Speers’s appointment, but in Cassidy’s weekly News Breakfast spot on Friday morning, he said: “The bureaucracy gets in the way at times like this, but he’ll be there eventually.”
“I couldn’t be more chuffed that somebody with his credibility and respect within the industry, which was so apparent on Twitter last night, wants to do Insiders – that really pleases me,” Cassidy said.
On social media, reports of Speers’s appointment drew congratulations from many politicians and journalists, including ABC journalists Michael Rowland, Patricia Karvelas and Fran Kelly, who had been touted as possible replacements for Cassidy.
Former Sky News host Peter van Onselen tweeted that Speers’s reported departure was a “huge loss” for the News Corp-owned news channel.
Cassidy announced in March that he would leave Insiders on June 9, but is staying with the ABC.
He dropped the bombshell on stage at the Melbourne Press Club’s Quill Awards for Excellence in Journalism, as he accepted the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to political journalism in a career spanning more than 50 years.
Launched in 2001, Insiders is the most watched morning show on Australian TV any day of the week.
Speers is widely respected for his straight-shooting style and probing interviews with politicians.
Last August, he tweeted his support for the outrage around Sky News’ decision to feature far-right extremist Blair Cottrell.
The move to have Cottrell on the channel was widely criticised, with Sky News political reporter Laura Jayes taking aim at her own channel.
She said Cottrell, a “self-confessed Hitler fan” was not the “activist” the program labelled him as — a sentiment echoed by Speers.
I have just arrived back in the country tonight to be met with the understandable outrage over this. 100% agree with @ljayes. As News Director Greg Byrnes says it was wrong to have this guy on Sky News. https://t.co/QQF4ESRmbJ
— David Speers (@David_Speers) August 5, 2018
He started his career at Geelong radio station K-Rock before working for the Macquarie and Southern Cross radio networks, including stations 2GB, 2UE and 3AW.
The 44-year-old joined Sky News in 2000.
He won a Walkley Award in 2014 for an interview with George Brandis, in which the then-attorney-general struggled to explain what metadata was.
He won another Walkley the next year for his interview with Christopher Pyne, in which the then-education minister described himself as “a fixer”.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) December 3, 2015
The Canberra-based journalist currently hosts programs for Sky on Monday to Thursday afternoons as well as Sunday mornings.
He has moderated debates between the major party leaders during every federal election campaign since 2007.