Tributes for veteran journalist Willesee

| 02.03,19. 09:30 AM |

Tributes for veteran journalist Willesee

Mike Willesee was known for his uncompromising interview style and willingness to push the envelope

Veteran reporter Mike Willesee has been remembered for his fearless journalism following his death from cancer.

The 76-year-old died on Friday afternoon of throat cancer.

Australian leaders and journalists have paid tribute to Willesee, who began his 50-year television career with the ABC before high-profile periods with the Nine and Seven networks.

He was known for his uncompromising interview style and willingness to push the envelope.

Former Opposition Leader John Hewson praised his "enormous contribution" to journalism, commenting on his famous 1993 interview when Willesee asked the former politician about the proposed GST.

Willesee asked a simple question: "If I buy a birthday cake from a cake shop and GST is in place do I pay more or less for that birthday cake?"

The then-opposition leader tied himself in knots trying to answer the question, and lost the election 10 days later.

"It was a good question and I gave a bad answer," Dr Hewson told AAP.

In a statement, an ABC spokeswoman said the broadcaster described Willesee as a "great of Australian journalism".

Colleagues and admirers took to social media to pay tribute, including fellow veteran journalist Laurie Oakes, who tweeted: "Vale Mike Willesee. Master interviewer. Good bloke."

Born in 1942 in Perth, Western Australia, Willesee was the son of ALP Senator Donald Willesee.

He was first introduced to Australian audiences in 1967 on the ABC current affairs program This Day Tonight, before going on to host Four Corners from 1969 to 1971 and later Nine Network's A Current Affair.

During a profile on Australian Story in 1998, Willesee said a plane crash in Kenya that year prompted a return to the Roman Catholicism of his youth.

In 2002 he was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame.


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