The controversy continues over the award of
the $10,000 2004 Australian Government Peter Hunt Eureka Prize for
Environmental Journalism to Four Corners for three reports, including the
controversial program on the
forestry industry in Tasmania, Lords of the Forest.
There have been calls for the prize to be
withdrawn in the wake of Australian
Communications and Media Authority findings last week against the program and earlier critical judgements from the
ABA and the ABC’s own Independent Complaints Review Panel.
The award comes from the Minister for the Environment
and Heritage – and Senator Ian Campbell gave some thoughts to his thinking on the
subject in a letter to Timber Communities Australia last year:
accuracy are the hallmarks of good journalism, and the Australian Government
would not wish to support any work that falls short on these standards. My
department’s support for the prestigious Eureka science
awards aims to promote well-informed, constructive debate on national
environmental issues. The future of our Tasmanian forest is one of the most
important of these.
There is particular controversy over the programs
nominated for the award while complaints against Lords of the Forest remained unresolved.
Former ABC managing director
Russell Balding admitted in a letter last year:
No separate information
was forwarded to the Museum or prize judges regarding the complaints about one
of the programs entered in the body of work nominated.
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The Australian Museum, the award administrators, contacted the
judging panel of the 2004 Peter Hunt Eureka Prize to inform them of the ABC’s Independent Complaints Review Panel
findings on Lords of the Forest. The Museum asked the panel if, in light of the ICRP
findings, they saw any grounds to reconsider their decisions. The panel replied:
[W]e have unanimously agreed that we do not believe
the nature of the ICRP findings are sufficient to overturn our original
decision to award the prize to the Four Corners team for the body of work
Yet this has
created further questions over the presence of ABC employee and former staff elected director
Kirsten Garrett on the judging panel.