29 November 2016
thank you very much Denis, and can I at the outset acknowledge some of those
who support this award and make it possible. Firstly, Andrew Meares, President
of the Gallery. And Andrew, congratulations again on your stunning victory to
bring photographic freedom to the Senate Gallery. Also great to be with Maurice
Reilly of the National Press Club. But most particularly the Brown family. Val and
Bina, it’s wonderful to be here with you today. And could I acknowledge the
Courier Mail through Denis Atkins.
a privilege to be a part of these awards on behalf of the Prime Minister. As
you know, there are many moving parts in this building, and the Prime
Minister's attention is required by one of those at the moment. If the PM was
here he would regale you with war stories and tales of his time as a member of
the New South Wales Press Gallery, reporting for Channel Nine, or his time at
The Bulletin magazine.
don't have a journalistic pedigree, but I should let you know that I did
seriously flirt with radio journalism at one point in time. In the 80s, towards
the end of my uni studies I took myself along to 2UE. Then in North Sydney. Owned
by the Lamb family. Run by John Conde and Rod Spargo. And I was enthralled by
the tales of what it takes to keep the on-air talent happy. And, hanging out in
the newsroom and watching the journalists play indoor cricket and indoor
basketball just moments before filing or reading a bulletin. And I thought
'wow' I want to be part of this. So, with great expectation at the end of the
day I sat down with John Conde. And he looked at me and he said, 'Mitch, you
seem like a thoughtful young man. Forget journalism, forget radio. Go and do
something useful with your life'.
I'm here to tell you. Journalism is worthwhile. That it is a noble pursuit. At
its best it can have a profound impact. And journalism, along with the arts, is
one of the pillars that underpins freedom of speech, which in turn does give our
democracy a robustness, and an accountability, and a quality that it wouldn't otherwise
have. And, Wallace Brown remains the benchmark for even-handed reporting.
didn't know Wallace Brown, I met him a couple of times briefly shortly after he
retired. But Wallace did have a profound impact on those who were privileged to
the eulogy delivered at his funeral, Niki Savva, who says she still misses him and
regarded him as one of her great friends and mentors, wrote this: 'Wallace
built a stellar career, while retaining the trust of the politicians, the love
of his family, and the admiration of his colleagues and friends without back stabbing,
big noting himself or gossiping and, most infuriatingly, while making it all
look so easy'.
to receive an award that bears the name of Wallace Brown is a privilege,
but it also bring with it a responsibility, as it has done since 2008 when Patricia
Karvelas was the inaugural award winner.
my great privilege to announce an individual journalist who has been commended;
who wrote about an overseas trip, to China, by one of my former ministerial colleagues,
and who also wrote about some land purchases next to one of our
intelligence agencies. From the Australian Financial Review: Primrose Riordan.
the winner of the Wallace Brown award is someone who wrote about the former
Speaker Bishop and her aerial transportation. She also wrote about fraud
involving a former Victorian State Director of the Liberal Party.
this particular journalist reminded us of some golden truths. First and
foremost, that something might seem like a good idea at the time. It might be
legal. It might be within the rules. But we always have to apply the test of
'how would this look on the front page of the Herald Sun'. And, the other thing
that this journalist has done is remind us of an oldie, but a goodie. And that
is: don't put your hand in the till.
and gentlemen, to receive the Wallace Brown award will you please welcome: Annika