Current Affairs: Tim Bowden
The ABC's Four Corners - arguably Australia's premier current affairs program - first went to air on a Saturday night at 8.30pm on 19 August 1961. The program was presented by Michael Charlton and was the first of 17 episodes to be presented live.
The first item was an interview with an American astronaut, Scott Carpenter. Next followed a story about the end of World War II and the anniversary of the Japanese surrender in 1945. Interviews with musician Larry Adler and swimmer Jon Konrads concluded the program.
Several weeks later, Four Corners producer Bob Raymond and Michael Charlton took cameras to an area that few white Australians had ever seen - Box Ridge Aboriginal reserve near Casino in northern New South Wales. An elderly man living on the reserve made the observation that they weren't living in a democracy: 'An Aboriginal kiddie born here is not a citizen of Australia', he said. (ABC)
The program delivered a powerful political punch. The NSW Government discussed it at a specifically convened Cabinet meeting two days after the program aired. Four Corners has been part of the national story ever since, exposing scandals, triggering inquiries, firing debates, confronting taboos and interpreting fads, trends and subcultures.
One of Four Corners most memorable programs was the broadcast of 'The Moonlight State' on 11 may 1987, which included footage of illegal booze joints, prostitution and gambling dens in Queensland, the existence of which had long been denied by Queensland's conservative government under Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson. The subsequent inquiry saw senior police officers go to gaol and the Government voted out.
References and further reading
Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 'The Big Picture: A Full, Chronological History of Four Corners'. Four Corners. 2001. Accessed 25 February 2005. www.abc.net.au/4corners
Inglis, K S (Kenneth Stanley). This Is the ABC: the Australian Boradcasting Commission, 1932-1983. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1983.
Pullman, Robert. Four Corners, Twenty-five Years, Sydney: ABC Enterprises for Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1986.