2014 Gold Walkley, TV/AV: TV Weekly Current Affairs
Our Gold Walkley winners for 2014 are 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 pusuit 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 Investigation 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 the 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.
Adele Ferguson is an award-winning senior business writer and columnist, who has been with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald since 2009. She started her career at the Adelaide Advertiser, going on to BRW and The Australian. Adele has been a finalist in the Walkleys three times and won a high commendation for commentary last year.
Deb Masters was first nominated for a Walkley with Sue Spencer in 2001 for the history series 100 Years: The Australian Story. In the mid-2000s, Deb won a Walkley and was a finalist for the 7.30 Report. In recent years Deb has both reported and produced award-winning programs for Four Corners.
Mario Christodoulou began as a cadet reporter writing for suburban newspapers within the Fairfax network in Sydney’s west. In 2008 he won a Walkley for his coverage of the Wollongong council corruption scandal. He worked as a finance journalist in London before returning to Sydney, and Four Corners, in 2012.
“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.”