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Panpa Bulletin : February 2006
Michael West Walkley Award Winner for Business Journalism The Australian The subject of West's winning entry 'Allstate' is still subject to legal action. West says the newspaper stood behind the story despite intimidation by lawyers and a smear campaign by PR people. Winning the Walkley, he said, confirmed his faith in the media peer group and in the democratic process. In the face of threats and attempts to shut the story down, both The Australian and the Nine Network's Sunday program (who also followed the story) put principle ahead of dollars. The Walkley Foundation, and the judges, backed a difficult, though important, story which government regulators had shied away from. Why were you attracted to the story? "Banks and big business are forever finding more complex ways to make profits. Working out some of the more unsavoury schemes in financial markets is a challenge I enjoy. In the Allstate case, Macquarie Bank ended up controlling a very rich gold mine (the Beaconsfield Mine in Tasmania); a mine which should have remained in the hands of its creditors and shareholders. Ex- posing the story was a pleasure, getting leaked documents was a pleasure, as was dealing with my contacts, fighting to get it in the paper and fending off powerful corporate interests. Did anything surprising or amusing happen while you were working on the story? "I tend to get amused by strange things like the lengths companies and their spin doctors will go to conceal and distort the truth. It's a morbid interest, I'll admit. Dealing with the Ombudsman has been a hoot too. The Ombudsman is supposed to handle complaints about government bodies but, in the case of Allstate (and the powerful forces opposing our story) it's been more like the Monty Python Cheese Shop skit. How did you feel about winning? "Relief more than anything (because of ) the vindication. I had a great night but five minutes before they announced that I had won, a colleague who had been given the list to make deadline TEXT me and said 'you legend!'. So he really let the cat out of the bag." Eric Lobbecke Walkley Award Winner for Artwork -- The Australian 'No Cheap route to Defence" referred to the Defence Forces ageing Seahawk helicopters. Eric still has the wining artwork 'stuck in a box' under his feet. He has just built himself a painting studio and hopes to paint more this year. Why were you attracted to the story? "You only get about 4 hours to do the artwork so I though about dinosaurs and then downloaded references on Seahawks and Dinosaurs and made it look like a dinosaur from the Museum." How did you feel about winning? "You never expect it." Andrew Dyson Walkley Award Winner for a cartoon - The Age 'John's Green Day' is a two panel cartoon produced to accompany an opinion piece about the day John Howard split the Greens. The first panel shows Howard hugging a tree, in the second panel the gag shows he has moved away and the tree is seen as ring barked. Why were you attracted to the story? "Iwastoldtodothejobaspartof the opinion piece. The placement of Howard's hands suggested the ring barking Did anything amusing happen while you were working on the cartoon? "Yeah, I got the hands wrong; the thumbs were the wrong way around. I always get the hands wrong! How did you feel about winning? "Being a finalist is good enough. I was up against two good cartoonists. It makes you feel good. I also won one the year before so I can retire now. 18 | PANPA BULLETIN February 2006 CONTENT Stories behind our 2005