Journalists gather 20 years after Fitzgerald

By Rob O’Brien

Journalists who worked on one of the biggest corruption stories in Australian political history have gathered for a seminar to mark the 20th anniversary of the scandal.

Held at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday, the event marked the 20th anniversary of the submission by Tony Fitzgerald QC of his report to the Queensland Parliament after his judicial inquiry into corruption in the Queensland Police force.

Organised by the University of Queensland’s School of Journalism and Communication, the seminar titled ‘Twenty Years After Fitzgerald … Did They Get the Joke?’ brought together ABC reporters Chris Masters and Quentin Dempster, Phil Dickie of The Courier-Mail and Margaret Simons formerly of The Age.

The two-year Fitzgerald Inquiry focused on allegations of endemic corruption and bribery inside Queensland Police, led by media reports and culminating in Chris Masters’ ABC Four Corners documentary The Moonlight State.

“It was really the fine work done by the journalists coming to this seminar and their colleagues, all under tremendous pressure and the constant threat of writs from very influential people in Queensland at the time, which led to the biggest scandal ever in this State being uncovered,” said Professor Michael Bromley, Head of the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Queensland.

The inquiry was ordered by Deputy Premier Bill Gunn while Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was out of the state, and resulted in the jailing of the Police Commissioner Terry Lewis and other long serving officers, the resignation of Sir Joh, and criminal charges against a number of Government Ministers.

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