60 Minutes had one of its highest audiences ever last night, with 2.062 million viewers tuning in to watch Richard Carleton’s last story.

Carleton’s report on the Beaconsfield mine, where he died covering the story, went heavily on the line that the entrapment of the two miners and death of a third could have been avoided and was “man made”. And Carleton had the fascinating news that the so-called steel cage that had protected the two miners, was nothing but a small metal frame surrounded with wire. He also detailed how a rescuer had got close to the two miners and found that they were alive.

There was some irony in the 60 Minutes program last night: the reporter fronting the program was Liz Hayes, who is being tipped to leave the program to return to the Today show to try and staunch the ratings loss the Nine morning program is suffering at the moment. But Carleton’s death will put that on hold.

Nine now has to find a heavyweight reporter to match the tough approach Carleton brought to the program. Hayes cannot do the job, nor can Peter Overton or Tara Brown or Peter Harvey – the news reporter who does the letters and comment back announce each Sunday.

Brown and Overton are both too young and don’t have enough experience to play the world weary, slightly cynical veteran role that Morley Safer and Mike Wallace created for the American original.

Moving Hayes to Today would leave 60 Minutes very short of talent – the one thing Nine is short on at the moment in news and current affairs.

Last night’s Logie awards underlined that paucity of talent and ideas. No news or current affairs program from Nine won awards, and only two reports were nominated. There’s no-one in news, Sunday or A Current Affair whose name springs to mind as being capable of being shifted to 60 Minutes to fill either reporter’s job.

Ray Martin and Mike Munro might be asked to step up to the plate for a while, but both have been there before and don’t really want to go back full time and on the road.

Peter Fray

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