Dr Kerry O’Brien

5 December 2011

Award of Doctor of Letters honoris causa
Mr Kerry O’Brien


Mr Kerry O’Brien has been recognised variously as Australia's pre-eminent television journalist; one of the country's most respected journalists; one of the best and most formidable interviewers; a journalist of courage, insight and integrity; the unchallenged king of serious prime-time current affairs; and the national face of the ABC.

As the compere/interviewer for Lateline (1989–95) and chair and editor of The 7.30 Report (1995–2010), he had an unrivalled 21-year career in daily television current affairs. He continues his hosting role as presenter for the recently revamped Four Corners program where he also worked as a reporter in the mid-1970s and mid-1980s.

He has interviewed many leading international political figures including Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, and Barack Obama.

As well as anchoring current affairs programs, Mr O’Brien has presented the tally-room coverage of Australian elections for the ABC for more than 20 years.

His work as a journalist over a period of 46 years beginning with a cadetship with Channel Nine in Brisbane in 1965 has been recognised with six Walkley Awards, including the Gold Walkley and a Walkley for Outstanding Leadership. He was named a Queensland Great by the Queensland Government in 2011.

News stories he has covered over the years include the 1975 dismissal from office of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, the 1984 US Presidential election, the Grenada invasion, the Marcos Coup in the Philippines, Australia’s historic win in the 1983 America’s Cup, and the attempted coup against Gorbachev in Russia.

He served as an Adjunct Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at The University of Queensland from 2004 to 2007, during which time he contributed to the School’s anniversary celebrations.

Away from the spotlight, the veteran newsman enjoys Pilates, a quiet life with his family in the Byron Bay hinterland, white-water rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and Sudoku puzzles. He lists one of his all-time favourite interviewees as actor/singer Bette Midler in 2005.

Chancellor, in recognition of his distinguished career, his service to Queensland and to Australia, and his contribution to The University of Queensland, I present to you Mr Kerry O'Brien for the award of Doctor of Letters honoris causa bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.


Doctor of Letters honoris causa