Weekly News Roundup

November 23, 2018

Walkley Awards: Hedley Thomas, Slade Gibson win 2018 Gold Walkley for true crime podcast

Journalist Hedley Thomas and producer Slade Gibson have won the 2018 Gold Walkley Award for The Teacher’s Pet podcast series.

It is the second time The Australian journalist has won the top prize, and he said he was keen to keep making podcasts.

“This is what I want to do from now on,” he said as he accepted the award for the 14-episode investigation on Thursday night.

It delves into the unsolved case of missing Sydney mother Lyn Dawson and was described by judges as “a masterclass in investigative journalism”.

“The investigation uncovered long-lost statements and new witnesses, and prompted police to dig again for the body of Lyn Dawson,” they said.

The Teacher’s Pet has been hugely popular and has been downloaded by 27 million listeners across the world, according to the Walkley Foundation.

It is the only Australian podcast to hit the number one spot in the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

Dorney wins Outstanding Contribution to Journalism

The 63rd annual Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism was held in Brisbane on Thursday night.

The ABC had 24 nominations and won eight awards.

Sean Dorney, who for more than 40 years was the ABC’s Papua New Guinea and Pacific correspondent, won the Outstanding Contribution to Journalism award.

“I’ve always strived to tell it straight,” Dorney said as he accepted the award to a standing ovation.

The ABC and Fairfax team also received a Walkley award for their investigations into Don Burke, the ABC’s Team Unravel True Crime won the coverage of Indigenous affairs, and Four Corners accepted four awards for their investigative work.


NSW bushfire flares up, threatens homes north of Newcastle as total fire ban declared in Hunter

A bushfire emergency has been declared in NSW’s Hunter region with homes threatened at Salt Ash and authorities issuing a total fire ban as conditions deteriorate.

Key points:

  • Firefighters are combating the blaze on three fronts
  • Crews have been backburning near Newcastle Airport but strong winds are fanning the flames
  • Residents are being told to stay where they are because some roads are difficult to get through

The fire in the Salt Ash area, north of Newcastle, has so far scorched about 1,300 hectares.

About 200 firefighters are battling it.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) upgraded the incident to an emergency early this morning as strong winds continued, warning locals to monitor the situation and follow the direction of firefighters in the area.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has advised firefighters today’s winds are expected to be stronger than initially forecast.

They have averaged 60kph, with gusts of 80 or 90kph, which is likely to produce a severe fire danger through the greater Hunter area.

A total fire ban was declared in the greater Hunter region due to the blustery conditions.

“The fire is burning very aggressively and moving very quickly,” RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Firefighting aircraft including heavy tankers have been helping fight the flames, but the wind may restrict their use.

“We’re mindful that in high wind strengths, (for) a lot of the aircraft it’s just too dangerous to fly,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“It’s going to be a very, very difficult afternoon.”


Sydney Airport delays after wild winds force two runways to close

Thousands of passengers have been left stranded at Sydney Airport this morning after dangerous winds sparked widespread flight delays and cancellations.

Key points:

  • Strong winds that caused yesterday’s dust storm in Sydney will continue today
  • Some passengers claim they were forced to sleep in the terminal last night
  • Two of the Airport’s three runways are closed

Sydney Airport said domestic and international flights would be delayed and two of the three runways would close because of strong winds.

An airport spokesperson said passengers should contact their airline for more information.

Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Qantas said the strong westerly winds in Sydney as well as storms in Melbourne were affecting all airlines.

In a statement Qantas said it would advice advise passengers if there were changes to flights.

Some passengers took to social media to vent their frustrations, complaining of a lack of communication from the airlines.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a gale warning for the Sydney coast and strong winds are expected continue throughout the day.

A wind gust of 69km/h was recorded at Sydney Airport at 9.50am this morning — the strongest gust so far for the day

Passengers on a Rex Airlines’ plane were forced to sleep in a Kingsford Smith terminal on Thursday night when their flight was cancelled.

Gayle Clayton, who lives two hours north of Dubbo, had surgery hours before the scheduled flight and took shelter with a group of 18 people inside the international terminal as the domestic terminal closed for the evening.

She said Rex Airlines did not offer any alternative accommodation.

This weekly news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News.

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