Four Corners (Australian TV program)

Four Corners is an Australian investigative journalism/current affairs documentary television program. Broadcast on ABC TV, it premiered on 19 August 1961[1] and is the longest-running Australian television program in history. The program is one of only five in Australia inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame.

Four Corners
Title card
Presented by
Theme music composerRick Turk
Country of originAustralia
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons59
  • Bob Raymond (1961–1962)
  • Allan Ashbolt (1963)
  • Gerald Lyons (1963)
  • John Power (1964)
  • Robert Moore (1965–1967)
  • Sam Lipski (1968)
  • Allan Martin (1968–1972)
  • Tony Ferguson (1973)
  • Peter Reid (1973–1980)
  • Brian Davies (1980–1981)
  • Paul Lyneham (1980–1981)
  • John Penlington (1980–1981)
  • John Temple (1980–1981)
  • Jonathan Holmes (1982–85)
  • Peter Manning (1985–1988)
  • Ian Macintosh (1989–1990)
  • Marian Wilkinson (1991–92)
  • Ian Carroll (1992–1995)
  • Ian Allen (1994)
  • Harry Bardwell (1995)
  • Paul Williams (1995)
  • John Budd (1995–1996)
  • Bruce Belsham (1996–2007)
Running time45 minutes
Original release
Release19 August 1961 (1961-08-19) –
Four Corners report on the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute, presented by David Hardaker



Four Corners is based on the concept of British current affairs program Panorama.[2] 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.[3] Including 23 Logie Awards and 62 Walkley Awards.[4] It has 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. Founding producer Robert Raymond (1961–62) and his successor Allan Ashbolt (1963) did much to set the ongoing tone of the program.

The program celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2021.[2]

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.[5]



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.[6]

"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[7][8][9] 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.[3]



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.[10][11] 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.[12][13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

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,[16] and the Queensland Government dissolved all the Racing Queensland boards.[17]

On 28 March 2016, Four Corners in an episode called State of Fear: Murder and Money in Malaysia, aired new allegations about the large sums of money that have flowed into the bank accounts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.[18]

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 NT Corrections Minister, John Elferink, being stood down from his position.[19]

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.[20][21][22]



On 16 March 2020, the program aired a report documenting allegations of war crimes, including execution of war prisoners, by members of Australia's Special Air Service Regiment deployed to Afghanistan.[23][24]

In May 2021, ABC managing director, David Anderson delayed a Four Corners story about the relationship between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and a supporter of QAnon,[25] in spite of "(a) lot of detail is already in the public domain".[26][27] The story aired on Four Corners the following week.[28][29]

In December 2022, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) criticised the program's non impartial reporting, and found two breaches of the ABC’s Code of Practice in a program about the role of Fox News in the US elections. ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that "Both audiences and participants are entitled to the full picture. In this case, by omitting information the ABC did not do justice to the story or provide all relevant facts to its audience.”[30]




  • Robert Moore (1965–1967)
  • Sam Lipski (1968)
  • Paul Lyneham (1980–1981)
  • Bruce Belsham (executive producer, 2002–2007)
  • Sue Spencer (executive producer, 2007–2015)
  • Sally Neighbour (executive producer, 2015–present)[32]

See also



  1. ^ Bayley, Andrew. "Classic Australian Television Guides". Television.AU. Archived from the original on 1 January 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  2. ^ a b Samios, Zoe (12 August 2021). "Four Corners turns 60: Inside the show that exposes governments and divides viewers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 16 May 2022. Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Four Corners Awards". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 August 2011. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Four Corners looks back at the last six decades to mark 60th anniversary". Mediaweek. 12 August 2021. Archived from the original on 12 August 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Einfeld v R [2010] NSWCCA 87 (5 May 2010), Court of Criminal Appeal (NSW, Australia)
  7. ^ Read, Brent; Kogoy, Peter (16 May 2009). "Matthew Johns sex scandal puts Cronulla Sharks on brink". The Australian. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  8. ^ Drill, Stephen (24 May 2009). "Inside the mind of a footy groupie". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 27 May 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  9. ^ Walter, Brad; Pandaram, Jamie (20 May 2009). "Johns' teammate told of group sex". The Age. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
  10. ^ McDermott, Quentin (8 March 2010). "Scientology in the spotlight amid fresh allegations". ABC News. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  11. ^ McDermott, Quentin (8 March 2010). "Scientology: The Ex-Files". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 22 June 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  12. ^ "Scientology faces scrutiny after abuse allegations". WAtoday. Australian Associated Press. 18 November 2009. Archived from the original on 7 April 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Scientology under attack". Four Corners. 19 November 2009. ABC Television. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  14. ^ "BAN LIVE EXPORT". GetUp!. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  15. ^ Harvey, Matt (22 June 2020). "How the Gillard government's live cattle ban created a headache for Scott Morrison". Beef Central. Nascon Media Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on 29 August 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Greyhound Racing NSW board dismissed amid revelations of live baiting". ABC News. 19 February 2015. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  17. ^ Paull, Nathan; Silk, Marty (2 June 2015). "Qld government sacks racing boards". Australian Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  18. ^ "State of Fear". Four Corners. 28 March 2016. ABC Television. Archived from the original on 1 February 2022. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  19. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 1 November 2018. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  20. ^ "Escape From Saudi". Four Corners. 4 February 2019. ABC Television. Archived from the original on 5 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  21. ^ McNeill, Sophie; Anderson, Brigid; Piper, Georgina (4 February 2019). "Shahad stole her family's passports while they slept and fled for her life". ABC News. Archived from the original on 5 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  22. ^ Samios, Zoe (5 February 2019). "ABC's Four Corners returns with 561,000 metro viewers for Saudi women special". Mumbrella. Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Killing Field". Four Corners. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 March 2020. Archived from the original on 7 June 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  24. ^ Doran, Matthew (19 November 2020). "Afghanistan war crimes report released by Defence Chief Angus Campbell includes evidence of 39 murders by special forces". ABC News. Archived from the original on 19 November 2020. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  25. ^ Samios, Zoe (3 June 2021). "ABC bosses block Four Corners episode linking PM to QAnon figure". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 5 June 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  26. ^ Knaus, Christopher (7 June 2021). "Scott Morrison and QAnon: What we already know about the prime minister's connection to a conspiracy theorist". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 June 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  27. ^ Hardaker, David (4 June 2021). "We've been talking about QAnon and the PM for 18 months. Now the ABC has self-censored, Australia is finally catching on". Crikey. Archived from the original on 6 June 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  28. ^ Meade, Amanda (11 June 2021). "ABC to air delayed Four Corners episode about Scott Morrison and a supporter of QAnon". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  29. ^ Maiden, Samantha (15 June 2021). "Scott Morrison says he won't answer the ABC's questions on his ties to QAnon". Archived from the original on 19 June 2021. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  30. ^ Samios, Zoe (21 December 2022). "'Materially misleading': ABC rebuked over Fox News investigation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 21 December 2022. Retrieved 21 December 2022.
  31. ^ "Kerry O'Brien moves to Four Corners". The Spy Report. Media Spy. 14 October 2010. Archived from the original on 17 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  32. ^ "Sally Neighbour joins Four Corners". ABC News (Press release). 2 February 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2019.