The Sydney Morning Herald‘s highly-respected chief political correspondent Phil Coorey is leaving the paper after six years to join Fairfax stablemate The Australian Financial Review.

Coorey, who appears regularly on Insiders, is widely regarded as one of the best news breakers in Canberra and boasts excellent contacts on both sides of politics.

“It’s just a new challenge and time for a change,” Coorey told Crikey this morning. “There’s no discontent with the Herald.”

His departure leaves a sizable hole at The SMH, which now needs a Canberra news hound to complement the analytical heft of Peter Hartcher and Lenore Taylor, and the humorous stylings of Jacqueline Maley. The SMH and The Age have been sharing an increasing amount of Canberra copy over recent years, so it will be interesting to see if Coorey is replaced by a standalone SMH reporter or a cross-paper scribe.

The SMH also recently lost national security correspondent Dylan Welch, who is taking up a job with Reuters, from its Canberra office.

Coorey, formerly political editor of Adelaide’s The Advertiser , will become The Fin‘s chief political correspondent, a role that has been vacant since David Crowe left for The Australian in January.

In his new job, he’ll be working closely with AFR political editor Laura Tingle who told Crikey last year she considers Coorey “the best political reporter in the Canberra press gallery at the moment”.

“He writes for his readers, not for his own glory,” said Tingle. “He is relentless and unfailingly excited in his pursuit of a story, impeccably connected on both side of politics and prepared to call it as he sees it across the spectrum of issues that get thrown up here.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey