When Laurie Oakes retired from broadcasting there were some big shoes to fill. His knack for breaking exclusive stories was second to none and he had the respect of all sides of parliament. In fact former Prime Minister John Howard called him “the budget burglar” after Oakes revealed the entirety of the federal budget on the night before then treasurer Howard was meant to deliver it, in what remains one of the biggest leaks in Australia’s history.
The ABC’s Chris Uhlman was poached by Nine to be the Network Political Editor and has worked closely with respected reporter Lane Calcutt to build a formidable team but that team was recently broken up when Calcutt moved back to Brisbane. Calcutt impressed the Canberra press gallery with his style and contacts and his departure leaves a big hole in the Canberra office.
NINE has confirmed to TV Blackbox their state political reporter Chris O’Keefe will step into Calcutt’s role after the NSW state election and his role will be filled by 2GB reporter Liz Daniels. Her appointment was confirmed by Ben Fordham on twitter;
Huge news for my mate @lizziedaniels She’s the next NSW political editor for @9NewsSyd which means she’s leaving my radio show. She’s smart, dedicated and a ball to be around. Maybe that’s why I call her Chicken Salt. Because it’s always better with Chicken Salt. pic.twitter.com/5NWO1PbvQ4
— BenFordham (@BenFordham) February 22, 2019
Daniels appears to be a strong appointment for NINE’s NSW state bureau and O’Keefe will shake things up in the Canberra press gallery. He is a Walkley Award Winner and was named ‘Journalist of the Year’ at the industry respected Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism.
It’s understood O’Keefe will continue to work in the Sydney newsroom until the NSW State election on March 29. He will then move to Canberra and be front-and-centre on Nine’s coverage of the upcoming Federal election, working alongside Uhlmann.
There’s no doubt NINE is planning for the future. In the short term they would be hoping O’Keefe and Uhlmann will become an unbeatable team, but they also appear to be thinking long term, allowing O’Keefe to build up his credentials and possibly become the new Laurie Oakes.
*This story has been updated with confirmation of the appointments from the Nine Network.
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