Veteran ABC journalist Barrie Cassidy has been awarded the Melbourne Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award for a 50-year career that has left an extraordinary mark on Victorian and Australian journalism.
After the award was presented at the 2018 Quills Dinner in Melbourne, Cassidy announced that he would be standing down in June as presenter of the top-rating Insiders program on ABC TV.
MPC chief executive Mark Baker said the Club’s board was unanimous in its choice of Cassidy for the Lifetime Achievement award in recognition off his outstanding contribution to Australian political journalism.
“Barrie is one of the finest reporters and broadcasters of his generation. His work on Insiders has transformed the landscape of
political journalism in this country,” Baker said.
In a heartfelt acceptance speech, Cassidy praised the ABC Insiders team from its earliest days to the current generation, and advocated for more compassionate journalism.
Guardian Australia's photographer-at-large Mike Bowers, who is a regular on Insiders, introduced the award.
"Barrie learnt on country papers ... they teach you the nuts and bolts of the profession that make you both valuable and viable as a journalist,” Bowers said.
"His enduring genius I feel is … an endless capacity to be interested and excited when political news is breaking ... The man who has seen everything: wild treachery, lunacy and the worst of politics both inside and outside the machine is always the most excited about any story that is breaking.
"The time has not embittered him and he never pretends to know everything. There is a lesson in that for aspiring young political reporters."
In a tribute video that was part of the presentation, former prime minister Bob Hawke said: “Well done son, you've been an outstanding member of the ABC team.”
Hawke said Cassidy had been an excellent member of staff when he worked as his press secretary in the 1980s.
“He's even handed and that's what I like about him more than anything, I think,” he said.
Former ABC broadcaster Kerry O’Brien praised Cassidy’s journalism and his initiative in starting Insiders.
“When we started the national 7.30 Report back in 1995, there was only one choice for our political editor, and that was Barrie Cassidy,” O’Brien said.
“There have been many talented people in that role, before and since, but none with Barrie's political instincts. Same story with Insiders; his baby, and he delivered it. It’s now the undisputed go-to program for political discourse in this nation. “