Richard Carleton

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Richard Carleton
Born(1943-07-11)11 July 1943
Bowral, New South Wales, Australia
Died7 May 2006(2006-05-07) (aged 62)
Beaconsfield, Tasmania, Australia
Education Sydney Grammar School
Alma mater University of New South Wales
Years active1967−2006
Notable credit(s)
This Day Tonight
The Carleton-Walsh Report
60 Minutes
Spouse(s)Sharon Carleton
ChildrenOliver Carleton, James Carleton, Jennifer Carleton

Richard George Carleton (11 July 1943 7 May 2006) was a multi-Logie Award winning Australian television journalist.



Carleton was born in Bowral, New South Wales. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and graduated from the University of New South Wales. He was the third of four children - Joffre, Graeme, Richard and Joanne.

Television/journalism career


In the 1960s he was a reporter on This Day Tonight as well as being the presenter of ‘State of the Nation’, both on the ABC. He continued these roles until he left for a role on 2GB Radio in 1976, followed by what began as a lifelong love of travelling and researching overseas, producing films in Indonesia (including being the only journalist to be allowed to visit the newly "integrated" East Timor) and the Middle East. Carleton joined the BBC in London in 1977 for the Tonight program, before returning to Australia in 1979.

Carleton is probably most famously known for a comment made to the incoming federal Australian Labor Party leader Bob Hawke in 1983: "Mr. Hawke, could I ask you whether you feel a little embarrassed tonight at the blood that's on your hands?" [1] [2] which was a reference to the alleged involvement of Hawke in the resignation of former Labor leader, Bill Hayden. The question outraged Hawke, who criticized Carleton for his "damned impertinence". [3]

Carleton ran for election in 1983 as the staff representative on the ABC Board. He was defeated by Tom Molomby, who wrote: "His was a remarkable policy statement, the most blatant demonstration of political cynicism (I cannot believe it was the only other alternative, stupidity) which I have ever seen in an ABC election.". [4] During 1986, Carleton was a co-presenter of The Carleton-Walsh Report on the ABC, with financial journalist Max Walsh.

Nine Network

In 1987 Carleton began his most famous television journalism role, as a reporter on 60 Minutes . In a career with the program that spanned almost 20 years, he visited many locations around the world investigating political climates. In 2006 he and producer Stephen Rice visited Chernobyl and were given unprecedented access to the sarcophagus built over the ruined nuclear reactor, including a brief visit to the abandoned control room. [5] Carleton was parodied on the Australian sketch-comedy shows Fast Forward and Comedy Inc. for his perceived over-prominence on 60 Minutes.

In July 2000, the ABC's Media Watch program accused Carleton of plagiarizing the BBC documentary A Cry from the Grave . Carleton denied the claims, suing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for defamation. In 2002 the case was heard and the judge found that while Carleton had "misled his audience by misrepresenting a mass grave site shown in the program, and that 60 Minutes had copied film directly from the British documentary", [6] the allegations made by Media Watch were in fact untrue and had defamed Carleton. Carleton was greatly relieved by the ruling. [7] (However the judge also found Media Watch was entitled to express the views it formed and eventually awarded costs against Channel Nine and to the ABC. [6] ). Media Watch themselves claimed that Carleton had interpreted the judgement as favoring him, that it didn't, and they refused to apologise. [7] [8]

Carleton won five Penguin Awards and three Logie Awards during his time with 60 Minutes and at the ABC.


Carleton had experienced a number of health scares, the first in 1988 when he underwent heart bypass surgery, which was filmed for 60 Minutes, and another in 2003 when he suffered a heart attack. [9] In 2005 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. [10] On 7 May 2006, Carleton collapsed from a massive heart attack during a press conference at the Beaconsfield gold mine, shortly after questioning mine manager Matthew Gill on previous safety issues at the site. [11] First-hand reports from the scene indicated that Carleton had a weak pulse when taken by ambulance to the Launceston General Hospital and that he had been puffing and gasping not long before he collapsed. Carleton died at 2:12 p.m, in the ambulance on the way to hospital. [12] [13] His last words were:

On 26 October last year, not 10 metres from where these men are now entombed, you had a 400-tonne rock fall. Why is it, is it the strength of the seam, or the wealth of the seam, that you continue to send men into work in such a dangerous environment?. [14]

In the telemovie about the incident, Beaconsfield, Carleton was played by Steve Vizard. [15]

In 2017 his garden was featured on the television program Gardening Australia and was introduced by his wife Sharon. [16]

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  1. "Mr. Hawke how does it feel to have blood on your hands?". Archived from the original on 7 August 2011.
  2. "Richard Carleton, A Face From The Dismissal, Dies, 62". Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  3. Richard Carleton interview with Bob Hawke on YouTube
  4. Molomby, Tom, Is there a moderate on the roof? ABC Years, William Heinemann Australia, Port Melbourne, 1991, p.163
  5. "Inside Chernobyl". 60 Minutes Australia, Nine Network Australia. 16 April 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
  6. 1 2 "Media Watch: Richard Carleton" . Retrieved 6 May 2006.
  7. 1 2 "The World Today". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 December 2002. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  8. "Carleton fails to win defamation damages" 18 December 2002 Sydney Morning Herald
  9. "Carleton dies on front line". Sydney, NSW, Australia: The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 May 2006.
  10. "Carleton calm about cancer". Melbourne: The Age. 19 March 2006.
  11. "Veteran reporter Richard Carleton dies at mine site". Nine MSN.
  12. "Veteran reporter Richard Carleton dead". Nine MSN.
  13. "TV reporter dies at gold mine". Archived from the original on 10 May 2006.
  14. "Journalist Richard Carleton dies". ABC News.
  15. Byrne, Fiona (1 July 2011). "Steve Vizard to play the late Richard Carleton in Beaconsfield series". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 March 2017.