Four Corners (Australian TV program)

Four Corners is an Australian investigative journalism/current affairs documentary television program, the longest of its kind nationally. Broadcast on ABC in HDTV, it premiered on 19 August 1961[1] and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011. Founding producer Robert Raymond (1961–62) and his successor Allan Ashbolt (1963) did much to set the ongoing tone of the program. The program is one of only five in Australia inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame.

Four Corners
Four Corners logo
Presented byMichael Charlton (1961)
Gerald Lyons (1962–63)
Frank Bennett (1964)
Robert Moore (1964)
John Penlington (1964)
Richard Oxenburgh (1964)
Robert Moore (1965–67)
John Temple (1968)
Mike Willesee (1969–71)
David Flatman (1971–72)
Caroline Jones (1973–81)
Andrew Olle (1985–94)
Liz Jackson (1995–99, 2005-2010)
Kerry O'Brien (2011–15)
Sarah Ferguson (2016 – 2018)
Michael Brissenden (2019-present)
Theme music composerRick Turk
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons54
Producer(s)Bob Raymond (1961–62)
Allan Ashbolt (1963)
Gerald Lyons (1963)
John Power (1964)
Robert Moore (1965–67)
Sam Lipski (1968)
Allan Martin (1968–72)
Tony Ferguson (1973)
Peter Reid (1973–80)
Brian Davies (1980–81)
Paul Lyneham (1980–81)
John Penlington (1980–81)
John Temple (1980–81)
Jonathan Holmes (1982–85)
Peter Manning (1985–88)
Ian Macintosh (1989–90)
Marian Wilkinson (1991–92)
Ian Carroll (1992–95)
Ian Allen (1994)
Harry Bardwell (1995)
Paul Williams (1995)
John Budd (1995–96)
Bruce Belsham (1996–2007)
Running time45 minutes
Original networkABC
Picture formatBlack & White TV (1961–1975)
PAL (1975–2006)
576i (SDTV) (1961–present)
720p (HDTV) (2008–2016)
1080i (HDTV) (2016–present)
Audio formatStereo (1985–1992)
Dolby Surround (1993–2004)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (2005–present)
Original release19 August 1961 (1961-08-19) 
External links


Four Corners is based on the concept of British current affairs program Panorama. The program addresses a single issue in depth each week, showing either a locally produced program or a relevant documentary from overseas. The program has won many awards for investigative journalism.[2] It has also broken high-profile stories. A notable early example of this was the show's 1962 exposé on the appalling living conditions endured by many Aboriginal Australians living in rural New South Wales.

Notable episodes

In sharp contrast to print media, television was the medium for critical accounts of Australia's role in the War in Vietnam. Four Corners, regardless of modest ratings, favoured the viewpoint of the antiwar and anti-conscription movements.[3]


In 1983, Four Corners aired allegations that then New South Wales Premier Neville Wran had tried to influence the magistracy over the dropping of fraud charges against Kevin Humphreys, charged with misappropriation of funds from the Balmain Leagues Club. Wran stood down and the Street Royal Commission, headed by the Chief Justice of NSW, Sir Laurence Street, was set up to inquire into this matter. Street found that the chief magistrate, Murray Farquhar, had used the Premier's name to get the Humphreys case dismissed, but exonerated Wran of any involvement. Farquhar was subsequently sent to prison.

Together with articles in The Courier-Mail, a 1987 Four Corners story entitled "The Moonlight State" reported on police corruption in Queensland. The subsequent Royal Commission, known as the Fitzgerald Inquiry, found systematic corruption in various levels of government and led to the gaoling of police commissioner Terry Lewis, and the resignation and subsequent criminal trial of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

The program has investigated other cases of corruption in the New South Wales and Victorian police forces. Another report from 1985 helped to reveal that the French secret service had been responsible for the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.


A 2006 episode titled "Greenhouse Mafia", exposed the influence of the fossil fuel lobby on Australian climate change policy.

In March 2009, an episode titled "The Dishonouring of Marcus Einfeld" aired; it detailed the events leading up to the conviction and sentencing of an Australian former federal court judge, Marcus Einfeld. Einfeld was convicted on charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice over a speeding ticket.[4]

"The Code of Silence", which aired 11 May 2009, was an investigative report on the attitudes towards and the treatment of women by National Rugby League players. The report focused primarily on two incidents involving NRL players and women who felt they had been exploited sexually. The mainstream media reported heavily[5][6][7] on the subject for a number of weeks following the airing of "The Code of Silence".

The Four Corners website has also won multiple awards, including two Walkley Awards and three AIMIA Awards for its Broadband Editions of the programs, which include exclusive interviews, analysis and background information on selected programs.


On 8 March 2010, a program was aired shedding light on ex-members of the controversial Church of Scientology, many speaking of abuse and other forms of inhumane treatment, for example coerced abortions and disconnection.[8][9] The program was of note due to Church spokesperson Tommy Davis "categorically [denying]" all allegations put forward by ex-members. All interviews were conducted by Four Corners journalist Quentin McDermott, and aired the same week that a Parliamentary vote was held for an inquiry into the Church after South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon brought Church abuse to light in November 2009.[10][11]

On 30 May 2011, the program aired an exposé on cruelty inflicted on Australian cattle exported to Indonesian abattoirs. As a result, there was a major public outcry at the practices and a petition launched by activist group GetUp! received more than 10,000 signatures overnight. This petition has received over 200,000 signatures.[12] The next day, independent MP Andrew Wilkie and independent Senator Nick Xenophon lobbied for an immediate ban on live export to Indonesia, which was backed by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Joe Ludwig. There was an immediate ban on the abattoirs featured in the graphic Four Corners program, which was followed by a six-month ban on all live trade to Indonesia.

In February 2015, Four Corners uncovered widespread live baiting in the greyhound racing industry. The investigation revealed the use of live piglets, possums and rabbits to train racing greyhounds in three states. The revelation led to suspensions, resignations, inquiries and condemnation of the practice. The NSW Greyhound racing board was dismissed,[13] and the Queensland Government dissolved all the Racing Queensland boards.[14]

On 26 July 2016, Four Corners aired graphic footage of systematic physical and verbal abuse of young Indigenous children and teenagers in the Northern Territory at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. The episode caused outrage from the Australian public, prompting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce a Royal Commission into the abuse occurring in the Northern Territory. This episode also resulted in the head of the detention centre, John Elfernik, being stood down from his position.[15]

On 4 February 2019, Four Corners aired a report documenting the status of women's rights in Saudi Arabia. The episode also chronicled Rahaf Mohammed who eventually found asylum in Canada, Dina Ali Lasloom who was unsuccessful in her attempt to secure asylum in Australia, and featured prominent activist Mona Eltahawy and Manal al-Sharif.[16][17][18]



See also


  1. Bayley, Andrew. "Classic Australian Television Guides". Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  2. "Four Corners Awards". Four Corners. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  3. Gorman, Lyn (1997). "Television and War: Australia's Four Corners Programme and Vietnam, 1963–1975". War & Society. 15 (1): 119–150. doi:10.1179/war.1997.15.1.119.
  4. Einfeld v R [2010] NSWCCA 87 (5 May 2010), Court of Criminal Appeal (NSW, Australia)
  5. Brent Read and Peter Kogoy (16 May 2009). "Matthew Johns sex scandal puts Cronulla Sharks on brink". The Australian. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  6. Stephen Drill (24 May 2009). "Inside the mind of a footy groupie". Herald Sun. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  7. Brad Walter and Jamie Pandaram (20 May 2009). "Johns' teammate told of group sex". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  8. Quentin McDermott (8 March 2010). Scientology in the spotlight amid fresh allegations. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved on 30 March 2012.
  9. Quentin McDermott (8 March 2010). Scientology: The Ex-Files. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved on 30 March 2012.
  10. (18 November 2009). Scientology faces scrutiny after abuse allegations. WA Today. Fairfax Media. Retrieved on 30 March 2012.
  11. Chris Uhlmann (19 November 2009). Scientology under attack. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved on 30 March 2012.
  12. Ban Live Export. GetUp!. Retrieved on 30 March 2012.
  13. "Greyhound Racing NSW board dismissed amid revelations of live baiting". ABC News. 19 February 2015.
  14. Paull, Nathan; Silk, Marty (2 June 2015). "Qld government sacks racing boards". AAP.
  15. Hunter, Fergus (26 July 2016). "Malcolm Turnbull calls royal commission into youth abuse at Northern Territory's Don Dale detention centre". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  16. Escape From Saudi, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 4 February 2019, retrieved 5 February 2019
  17. McNeill, Sophie; Brigid; ersen; Piper, Georgina (4 February 2019). "Shahad stole her family's passports while they slept and fled for her life". ABC News. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  18. Samios, Zoe (5 February 2019). "ABC's Four Corners returns with 561,000 metro viewers for Saudi women special". Mumbrella. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  19. "Kerry O'Brien moves to Four Corners". The Spy Report. Media Spy. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  20. "Sally Neighbour joins Four Corners". ABC News. 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
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