Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Back to the Beginning; Face of ABC Recalls His Life of Work

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Back to the Beginning; Face of ABC Recalls His Life of Work

Article excerpt

Byline: Hayden Johnson

STANDING on the corner of a busy Ipswich CBD intersection, Kerry O'Brien casts his eye up to the two-storey building where his respected journalism career started.

Well before he became a staple in the evenings of Australians, the veteran ABC journalist was a "D-grade" reporter at the Queensland Times.

The six-time Walkley award-winning journalist returned to Ipswich this week for the latest stop on a national tour to promote his memoir.

He toured the QT's old Brisbane St building and recalled where he sat as a cub reporter in 1967 -- blissfully unaware of the journey that lay ahead.

Mr O'Brien has had a front-row seat to almost all of the significant events since the Second World War.

He has sat in rooms across from Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher; probing their actions and views of the world.

In 1995 Mr O'Brien joined the ABC's national 7.30 Report, where he would remain for 15 years; prosecuting the policies and politics of Paul Keating, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and their respective governments.

He earlier had stints as a senior journalist at Four Corners, political editor at the Ten Network and inaugural presenter on the ABC's Lateline.

Mr O'Brien started in Ipswich in the late 1960s after a brief stint as a cadet journalist at Brisbane's Channel 9.

"When I came here, suddenly, I was out doing practically everything along with every other journalist in the place," he said of Ipswich. I was out doing general rounds, courts, the shire councils... it was a very fast learning curve."

The same fundamentals Mr O'Brien applied to the nation's leaders decades later on the 7.30 Report were based on his learnings of Ipswich's councils.

"The point about shire politics is that the dynamics are exactly the same -- the internal dynamics of how politics is practised -- is exactly the same as whether you were covering state politics or federal politics or politics in Washington," he said. …

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