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Australia Paul Murphy, host of PM and Dateline, dies aged 77

11:05  20 october  2020
11:05  20 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Australian journalist Paul Murphy, best known for his decade-long tenure as host of the ABC's PM program as well as being the first host of SBS's Dateline, has died aged 77.

He was in the host's chair at PM when Nelson Mandela walked free from Victor Verster prison, and during the Tiananmen Square protests.

Murphy first joined the ABC in the late 1960s and became a political reporter in the Canberra press gallery, before joining the ground-breaking ABC television current affairs show This Day Tonight.

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In 1994 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to public broadcasting and to journalism. In 2000 he was awarded the Walkley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

Described as 'the consummate professional'

Former 7.30 host Kerry O'Brien described Murphy as a role model to him as well as a dear friend.

"Paul was a shining light in Australian public broadcasting; a man of fierce intellect, rapier wit and utter integrity who blazed trails, pursued scoundrels and was the master of the political interview."

Former executive producer of PM Andrew Potter said Murphy was never boastful.

"The first thing you remember about him of course was his wonderfully rich voice, but beneath his brilliance and his excellent timing and his ability to ask penetrating questions, deep down, like so many brilliant performers he was rather insecure of his own abilities," he said.

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"He was never boastful, he really was the consummate professional."

Greg Wilesmith, a reporter for PM in the late 1980s, said Murphy read, listened and watched absolutely everything.

"When I ventured an opinion he was right there to nail me," he said.

"He had a terrific intellect and he just had enormous skill as an interviewer."

Working for the ABC turned out not to be enough for Murphy, and he took the role as the first host of Dateline while still hosting PM.

Andrew Potter explained there was a period when Murphy was finishing at the ABC at 6:00pm every day and then speeding across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to SBS to host the nightly edition of Dateline.

"It was a mammoth effort and really quite a heroic thing to do," he said.

Greg Wilesmith eventually joined Murphy at Dateline and said his presenter was never "weak or mild."

"Paul could be handful, as a presenter," he said.

"He had strong opinions of his own.

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"But we always had a terrifically collegial kind of relationship."

He may have been a robust newsman, but Murphy is also remembered for presenting the less-than-robust South Coast News segment on Triple J's comedy show This Sporting Life with Roy and HG.

ABC managing director David Anderson extended sincere condolences to Murphy's family and friends on behalf of everyone at the national public broadcaster.

"Paul was a fine journalist and a wonderful friend and colleague to many," he said.

"He will always be an important part of the history of the ABC and of Australian journalism."

ABC News director Gaven Morris said Murphy left an important legacy.

"He had integrity, authority and was a natural communicator. He also had great warmth, making him as well-liked by colleagues and audiences as he was respected."

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