Adele Ferguson, Deb Masters and Mario Christodoulou

Gold Walkley | TV/AV Weekly Current Affairs

Four Corners, ABC TV and Fairfax Media

Banking Bad

Our Gold Walkley winner for 2014 is Adele Ferguson and the Four Corners team for their extraordinary work in uncovering unconscionable banking practices among some of our biggest banks, notably the Commonwealth Bank. Ferguson began her fearless pursuit of the Commonwealth Bank in print, and this year took her investigation to a wider audience with a compelling television program that exposed the impact of highly risky advice on the individuals who trusted their financial affairs to the nation’s largest financial institution.

Ferguson, with Deb Masters and Mario Christodoulou, coaxed whistle-blowers to appear on camera, and underpinned their reports with meticulous research. “Banking Bad” wins the 2014 Walkley for TV Weekly Current Affairs, and was also a finalist in the Business and Investigative categories.

Adele’s pursuit of this story is the culmination of two years of vigorous investigation of the sharp practices employed by financial advisers at the Commonwealth Bank. In a bid to grow profits, customers were signed up to high-risk financial products that exposed them to the worst effects of the 2007 financial crisis and led to some ordinary Australians losing their life savings. Her research also uncovered the failure of corporate regulator ASIC to respond to the concerns of whistleblowers inside the Commonwealth Bank.

The results of Adele’s investigation have been profound. The Commonwealth Bank has overhauled its financial advice branch; bankers have been called to account before Senate committees and a second inquiry was established into the effectiveness of the corporate regulator. In November the Commonwealth Bank announced it was hiring law firms Slater and Gordon and Maurice Blackburn to assist customers with their claims against the bank.

Judges’ comments: “Adele Ferguson pursued this story for two years, taking her work to a new level to make truly compelling television. Financial stories aren’t traditionally photogenic, but the team has elevated business journalism by capturing the human side and through dogged investigation.”

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