One of the questions I’m often asked is if I’m related to the ABC’s Joe O’Brien and the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien. Although I sometimes want to say “Do you realise how many people called O’Brien there are in the world?”, I usually answer more politely with “I’ve no idea”. Sometimes, however, I say “possibly, since they’re both from Queensland and a branch of the family that came to Australia in 1864 moved to Queensland at about the same time our lot moved to Northern NSW”. I’ve never bothered to do that level of research, though perhaps I should some day?
I think I’d like to be related since I think they’re both very, very good at their jobs. Although I didn’t catch tonight’s final episode of 7.30 Report in full, I caught Kerry’s sign-off at the end. What a dignified way to sign off on a significant part of his career. “And now, a few parting words” he began. Straight to the camera. No tears. No hyperbole. Just a simple message about how it had been an honour and a privilege to “share the space”. I also loved the way he said “There’s a great team here, but you know that, and next year…”
I know he has his critics, but I’ve always admired his work and, in particular his political interviews. Over the last few years I haven’t watched the 7.30 Report much. Usually by the end of the day I’ve had my full of news, and I’m looking for a little escapism. But whenever there was a hot political story happening I’d always tune in, because you just knew the political leader interview conducted by Kerry would be compelling viewing.
The only reason I watched “The Walkleys” tonight was because I’d seen a tweet that he’d been presented with the “Leadership Walkley”. And so I tuned in and waited and waited and then he made another wonderfully dignified classy speech saying the younger journalists of today had the same level of enthusiasm and passion for the craft as did he and his colleagues from the much-praised legendary days of “This Day Tonight”.
It’s fantastic how he’s gone out on top, because so many people in the media overstay their welcome. Though hardly on the same level, I think I went off air at the right time. I’d been around for a while, people seemed to like what I’d done, and then I left. There’s a lot to say for going out on top, I reckon. And that’s what Kerry’s done. Congratulations Cuz.