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Australia's leading international affairs program featuring fascinating, in-depth stories from the ABC's unrivalled network of foreign correspondents.

Genres: Interview | Current Events | Travel
Station: ABC (AU)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Running
Start: 2008-02-05

Foreign Correspondent Season 2018 Air Dates

S2018E01 - The New Italian Job Air Date: 08 January 2018 09:30 -

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The old is new. Ditching conventional careers, a generation of hip young Italians is rediscovering the grand tradition of "Made in Italy". Hamish Macdonald takes an exhilarating road trip to meet them.

S2018E02 - Redneck Revolt Air Date: 15 January 2018 09:30 -

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A year into Donald Trump's presidency resurgent white supremacists are preaching hate. Now left-wing activists are hitting back with their own shock tactics. Stephanie March goes inside a controversial radical group.

S2018E03 - The Baby Trade Air Date: 22 January 2018 09:30 -

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A cruel trade is tearing baby orangutans from their jungle homes to be sold abroad. Samantha Hawley gets a smuggler's story - and meets the warriors risking their lives to save the great apes from extinction.

S2018E04 - On Top of the World Air Date: 29 January 2018 09:30 -

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Is the world going mad when Greenlanders fight drought & brush fires & catch warm water fish? A decade after seeing a farming boom in Greenland, Eric Campbell returns to see how locals face climate change.

S2018E05 - On His Own Terms Air Date: 10 July 2018 10:00 -

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This is the inside story of 104-year-old activist David Goodall's last days in Europe as he farewells family and campaigns for the right to die, up to his final hour.

S2018E06 - Don't Call Australia Home! Air Date: 17 July 2018 10:00 -

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Australia is detaining, cuffing and deporting more New Zealanders than any other group. Guest reporter Peter FitzSimons finds it's riling Kiwis and straining relations across The Ditch. Is this how we treat an old mate?

S2018E07 - Blockchain Island Air Date: 24 July 2018 10:00 -

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A tropical paradise is racked with bankruptcy then smashed by a killer hurricane. In rides a cavalry of digital evangelists selling hi-tech revolution. Will they save the day? Eric Campbell reports.

S2018E08 - Bloodland Air Date: 31 July 2018 10:00 -

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On the sprawling maizefields outside Johannesburg, the Engelbrecht family knows the full horror of the farm attacks that are so commonplace they no longer rate a headline.

Last Mother's Day Jo-an Engelbrecht was expecting his elderly father and mother for lunch. When they failed to appear, he walked up to their house.

"They were tied. My dad was lying on his back, my mother was lying face down. Their throats were slit, they were tortured," he says. The killers had extracted the keys to their safes and cars.

"My dad knew it was coming. We all know it's coming. It's just a question of when," says Jo-an.

The old couple were duly added to the tally of farm murders that some Afrikaners believe are part of a wider political campaign to drive them off the land. While the numbers – some say 47 last year, others say 84 – are in dispute, there's no argument that the crimes are horrifying.

But as Jonathan Holmes reports, they pale beside the nearly 20,000 South Africans, black and white, who were murdered in 2017 alone.

In this confronting report, Holmes asks whether the killing of white farmers is just a tragic fact of life, and death, in one of the world's most violent societies - or whether it is indeed politically or racially motivated.

The siege mentality of white farmers is magnified by radical politicians like Julius Malema. His Economic Freedom Fighters party sprang from the country's chronic failure to deliver land to landless blacks.

"We are taking the future into our own hands," he tells a rally of dancing followers in their red berets. Then a chant: "Shoot to kill! Shoot to kill! Pow, pow!" as he pulls an imaginary trigger.

Recently Malema wedged the governing ANC into supporting expropriation of land without compensation. So far, the government has not seized any farmland without paying for it.

But white farmers say that already the private market for farmland has collapsed. "Why would you buy a farm if tomorrow the government is going to take it?" asks Jo-an Engelbrecht.

For now, Engelbrecht is digging in on his farm in the faint hope that President Cyril Ramaphosa can stabilise a country wracked by crime and corruption after a decade of Jacob Zuma's rule. But for his daughter Tessa, her grandparents' murder was the final straw. She wants out – maybe to Australia, if those hints of fast track visas materialise. "I wouldn't think twice if I got the chance," she says.

S2018E09 - Tipping Point Air Date: 07 August 2018 10:00 -

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China sent Australia's recycling industry into a spin when it banned most waste imports. Now it's tackling a home-grown rubbish crisis. Bill Birtles looks at China's own war on waste and asks: is it winning?

S2018E10 - To Burn or Not To Burn Air Date: 14 August 2018 10:00 -

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There's a new push in Australia to build incinerators to burn our waste. Is this the way to go? Those clever Swedes think so. Foreign Correspondent sends War on Waste's Craig Reucassel to Sweden to investigate.

As Australia grapples with growing piles of waste, the idea of burning it is getting some heavyweight backers, the federal energy minister among them.

So will incineration work? Can it be clean? Is it cost-effective?

And if we invest in this technology at a time when China has stopped taking a lot of our recyclables, will this mean our recyclables end up being burnt?

Sweden is held up as a leader in managing waste. And as one of the world's biggest innovators, it's also one of the biggest incinerators.

So War on Waste's Craig Reucassel goes to Sweden to see if it holds the solution to Australia's waste crisis.

The Swedes only landfill one per cent of their waste and their government goes so far as to claim a phenomenal 99 per cent recycling rate. In many places, their food waste is collected and made into bio-fuel for their Volvos.

In the capital Stockholm, each time their kerbside wheelie bins are emptied, a sensor beeps and the household gets billed. So if they put their bins out less, they pay less. "We save money just by sorting our garbage," says resident Sara Jarnhed.

But the centrepiece of Sweden's waste management strategy is its chain of 34 vast waste furnaces that turn waste into energy for power and heating.

Sweden even makes about $100 million a year from importing waste, burning thousands of tonnes from Britain and other countries who don't know what else to do with it – and pay Sweden to get rid of it.

Problem solved? Not so fast. As Australia considers whether to go down the incineration road, Craig Reucassel follows the waste trail in Sweden to discover that we do have plenty to learn from Sweden's experience - but not all of it is good.

Presenter - Craig Reucassel
Producer - Deborah Richards
Camera - Mathew Marsic
Editor - Nikki Stevens
Executive Producer - Marianne Leitch

S2018E11 - The Village Air Date: 21 August 2018 10:00 -

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Veteran ABC correspondent Sean Dorney, who is suffering motor neurone disease, makes an emotional return to PNG tonight in Foreign Correspondent.

Sean Dorney got thrown out of PNG for his reporting, yet he received one of its top honours. He skippered its footy team and fell for a local girl. Now suffering motor neurone disease, he makes an emotional final visit.

For most Australians, Manus Island evokes a grim, now-shuttered detention centre, nothing more. But for veteran ABC correspondent Sean Dorney, it's paradise.

It's where he married a chief's daughter, Pauline, after draining his bank account to pay bride price, and where the embrace of a vast extended family awaits…

People have said to me that Pauline is like a princess in Manus, whereas you're just a commoner -– Dorney

…And it's where Sean and his beloved Pauline are now returning, in what will probably be his last time in PNG, the country that's defined his life.

The thing is I've now got motor neurone disease. I may have just two years left - Dorney

As his boat touches shore, a burly tribesman lifts the frail Dorney and carries him to the sand. Tears flow in a tempest of drums and song.

Even the smallest children are constantly dancing. I'm no longer up to the more vigorous moves – but even with a walking stick one can but try – Dorney at welcome ceremony

Sean Dorney first reported on PNG before it won independence from Australia. He ended up a household name, thanks to his reporting of political crises, disasters and daily life struggles.

Thanks too to his place in the national rugby league side. His team mates called him "Grasscutter" for his tackling style. It's a sport that unites a country where 860 languages are spoken… though Pauline needed lots of persuasion.

I was thinking, do they call this sport? This is not sport. This is a bunch of dogs fighting over chicken bones – Pauline Nare, Sean's wife

On this farewell journey to PNG, Dorney makes a special report for Foreign Correspondent. He finds nuggets of progress, like more girls getting educated. He unleashes his frustrations in trying to inform Australians about their nearest neighbour, about whom they seem to care little.

Frankly I'm appalled at the lack of coverage in Australia – Dorney

It's his journey as a sick man to his and Pauline's Manus clan that showcases PNG's great treasure… the pulsating villages where 80 per cent of its people live. They're poor but they enjoy what Sean calls "subsistence affluence".

In Tulu, Sean is initiated as a clan chief, a first for an outsider. Then, before Sean is carried back into the boat, comes Tulu's healing ceremony, unforgettable in its passion and unimaginably removed from the high-tech Australian medicine to which he will return.

Few correspondents have etched themselves more deeply into the life of a country they've covered than Sean Dorney.

S2018E12 - Homeland Air Date: 28 August 2018 10:00 -

Sorry, but right now we don't have any sources for this episode.

This week on Foreign Correspondent Eric Campbell goes inside Berlin's Jewish diaspora in his report, "Homeland," and asks why so many Israeli's are settling in Germany.

Why choose to live in the place where your people's extermination was conceived, planned and directed?

It's the question facing the 13,000 or so Israelis who have started new lives in Berlin - and who, if Hitler had had his way, may never have lived at all.

It's a bit like dancing on his grave – and I like dancing. So why not? – Shirah Roth, Israeli comedian

Israelis in Berlin are now among the world's fastest growing Jewish populations, to the dismay of some compatriots who sense a betrayal. But these mostly young Jews aren't forgetting history. Holocaust reminders – memorials and Nazi-era architecture – are all over Berlin.

Creepy is part of life. To see life actually growing out of this death, that's fantastic – Shirah Roth

For young creatives like Shirah or musician-journalist Ofer Waldman, the magnet is Berlin's chic arts scene, its cultural medley and free thinking. As an early arrival in 1999, Waldman stood out.

It was like, ‘You're a Jew?' It's like, "Oh my God, we've never seen a living one' – Ofer Waldman

Waldman runs a group that promotes equality with Arabs. He realises he is a beneficiary of Germany's lingering guilt.

Being a Jewish Israeli here, we have a louder voice because of the past. That's a privilege – Ofer Waldman

Berlin's Jews do face a rise in European anti-Semitism, which has spurred Germany to introduce tough new laws against hate speech. But fears of hate crime are, for many, outweighed by a weariness of life in Israel – its perpetual war footing, cost of living or social expectations.

It's back in Israel where reporter Eric Campbell finds Avi Binyamin, 32, who grew up in an ultra-Orthodox family.

I was supposed to be a rabbi by now, with five or 10 children - Avi Binyamin

Instead he went secular and became a gym instructor. Now he is packing his bags for Berlin. He looks forward to a more open-minded society.

Even if we are forced to live by the sword here in Israel… I'd want us to educate our children that it's not the default position, that there are also other ways - Avi Binyamin

Avi's Israeli girlfriend has already settled in Berlin and awaits him there. His little brother will follow him soon.

S2018E13 - The French Letter Air Date: 04 September 2018 10:00 -

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Hollywood's blockbuster #MeToo movement took the world by storm, giving voice to women and causing powerful men to hit the speed dial to their lawyers and PR flacks.

Then it met the French resistance.

More than 100 prominent French women – including screen goddess Catherine Deneuve - signed the now famous "Le Monde Letter" denouncing #Metoo. They pledged to "defend a freedom to bother as indispensable to sexual freedom" and sympathised with "men who've been disciplined in the workplace… when their only crime was to touch a woman's knee or steal a kiss".

So what is it about sex and seduction a la francaise? Does #MeToo threaten a proud libertine tradition that differentiates France from stitched-up Anglo-Saxon culture? Or do such ideas belong to the bygone era of lustful cartoon skunk Pepe Le Lew?

Reporter Annabel Crabb goes to Paris to interrogate the Le Monde women and their critics from the French #MeToo movement, as well as some mildly confused males.

"Women like to be protected," says ex-porn star, radio host and Le Monde signatory Brigitte Lahaie. "Wanting to be equal to men takes away this possibility of feeling protected and nurturing sexuality, desire and eroticism."

Crabb asks how that view squares with a recent government survey of female public transport users. How many respondents reported having been harassed while travelling? 100 per cent.

The Macron Government has pledged a new era of equality for women and has introduced a controversial on-the-spot fine for sexual harassment in public. But it baulked at the last minute in its attempt to introduce a legal age of consent in France for the first time.

"Rape is minimised in France. Most people think it's not such a big deal," says Adelaide Bon, a writer and former actress who was raped as a child.

Scientist and philosopher Peggy Sastre co-wrote the Le Monde letter. She spies danger in the naming and shaming promoted by #MeToo and its French counterpart Balance ton Porc – "Call Out Your Pig".

"We must not go back to some medieval logic," she says. "It leads to witch hunts, to a lot of excesses, to a lot of people wrongly accused."

Young YouTube star Marion Seclin, whose anti-harassment videos go viral, dismisses Sastre and the other Le Monde signatories as the old guard of French womanhood.

"I don't need someone to open the door for me or pay for my dinner because I earn my own money," she says.

S2018E14 - A Big Piece of Good News Air Date: 11 September 2018 10:00 -

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Jack and Laura Dangermond spent their honeymoon in a pup tent on a remote and spectacular stretch of southern Californian coast. They were students, idealistic and broke.

We both fell in love with that place – Jack Dangermond

Over the next 50 years the Dangermonds grew into billionaires, and all through those years they witnessed the unabating march of suburbia up and down the coast. Their old honeymoon haunt became part of a vast property owned by a hedge fund that develops coastal real estate.

We just thought, ‘Well, we just have to do this' – Laura Dangermond

So Jack and Laura spied a chance and swooped, shelling out $225 million to save for all time a 10,000 hectare tract of pristine coast and its hinterland of oak forests, hills, canyons and grasslands.

I didn't believe what I was hearing. This was a big piece of good news – Mike Bell from The Nature Conservancy, the environmental NGO which was handed the land, its biggest gift ever, by the Dangermonds

Jack and Laura Dangermond are private people who rarely talk to media. But they open up to Foreign Correspondent about how they pulled off this big green deal, and why. They hope their gift will inspire similar acts, big and small, and there is urgency to their message.

Time is running out. It's not dark yet but it's late in the day – and people are going to have to move to do this kind of thing in small ways and large ways all over the planet, really quickly – Jack Dangermond

Now they're challenging Australia's richest people to take a lead as well.

I want everybody in Australia getting this idea. I want those who really have large means to look at the amazing places in Australia before it's too late. And everybody else in Australia to plant one more tree, protect one more thing, to play at all levels - Jack Dangermond

The Dangermonds' conservation coup has come against the run of play, with the Trump administration seeking to roll back environmental safeguards and open up new territory for commercial development.

As North America correspondent Zoe Daniel discovers, Jack and Laura are no left-wing ideologues. Their environmental passion is founded on the hard data that drives their business. Founded nearly 50 years ago, their company ESRI leads the world in digital mapping, its software used by 350,000 organisations to predict flash floods, ease traffic snarls, help the homeless or plot the next Starbucks.

I like maps. They're a kind of language, the language of geography, the language of human activities, the language of understanding – Jack Dangermond

S2018E15 - Leave No Dark Corner Air Date: 18 September 2018 10:00 -

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It's innocuously called "Social Credit". In fact it's a dystopian personal scorecard for every one of China's 1.4 billion citizens.

Jaywalking, late paying of bills or taxes, buying too much alcohol or, much worse, mouthing off against the government will see you lose points and accumulate punishments like the right to travel by plane or train.

Model citizens, fear not. You will gain bonus points and rewards like the waiving of deposits on hotels and rental cars.

If people keep their promises they can go anywhere in the world. If people break their promises they won't be able to move an inch! – Jie Cong, Tianjin General Manager, financial credit system Alipay

"Leave No Dark Corner" is a slogan China's authorities have long used to root out "unstable elements". It can equally be applied to Social Credit, which builds on China's formidable history of surveilling its people.

Already about 200 million cameras sweep its cities. That number is set to triple by 2020. Combine these with rapid advances in facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking, add each individual's digital history and behaviours, and there you have it: a personal score ranking your trustworthiness.

Dandan, a young mother and marketing professional, is proud of her high credit score. If she keeps it up her infant son will be more likely to get into a top school.

China likes to experiment in this creative way… I think people in every country want a stable and safe society - Dandan

We need a social credit system. We hope we can help each other, love each other and help everyone to become prosperous – Dandan's civil servant husband Xiaojing

Social Credit is still being trialled – it's supposed to be fully operational by 2020 – but already an estimated 10 million people are paying the price of a low rating. Corruption-busting journalist Liu Hu is one of them.

The government regards me as an enemy – Liu Hu

After exposing official corruption, Liu Hu was arrested, jailed and fined. Now a poor Social Credit rating bars him from travelling by plane or fast train. His social media accounts with millions of followers have been suspended. He struggles to find work.

This kind of social control is against the tide of the world. The Chinese people's eyes are blinded and their ears are blocked. They know little about the world and are living in an illusion – Liu Hu

From Beijing, Correspondent Matthew Carney travels to the north western province of Xinjiang, where China's surveillance machine is at its most ruthless. Here, the UN estimates that about 1 million Islamic Uighur people are being held in re-education camps.

The surveillance system suddenly ramped up after the end of 2016. Since then, advanced surveillance technology which we've never seen, never experienced, never heard of, started appearing – Tahir Hamut, Uighur poet and filmmaker who fled to the US.

Reporter - Matthew Carney
Producer - Alex Barry, Cecily Huang
Camera - Brant Cumming, Adrian Wilson
Editor - Pete O'Donoghue
Graphics - Andres Gomez Isaza
Executive Producer - Marianne Leitch

S2018E16 - Eye of the Fire Air Date: 25 September 2018 10:00 -

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The fire came without warning, exploding in the twilight. It ripped through bushy hills and roared down on the little seaside haven of Mati, just outside Athens.

In Australia, we'd have a plan in place. There would be a text message saying, ‘the fire is at such and such. Get out.' - Stella Tzaninis, Greek-Australian part time Mati resident

But this was Greece. Burning cars choked narrow lanes. Illegally built houses blocked escape routes to the sea. Fumbling police sent traffic into the path of the inferno.

I can hear the people - in the cars, the old people, lots of old people. You can do nothing – Alex Tzaninis, who tried to help people to safety

Many who did make it to the beach died of burns or drowned as nearby tourist ferries kept plying their trade, emptying more cars into the fire zone.

By the time firefighters came, Mati was gone. By the time fireman Andreas Dimitriou came home, his fatally injured wife Margarita was alongside his dead baby son.

I don't know who to be angry with – angry with God? Angry with people? Angry with myself? – Andreas Dimitriou

Andreas' wife and son are part of a death toll that stands at 99 and may still go higher.

Greece is ringing with recriminations.

I cannot think of a single part that went right in this disaster. How is it possible that the system could leave these people so helpless? In Greece there is no culture of planning for big public emergencies - Costas Synolakis, crisis management expert

Was this simply a case of bungling and zero planning? Or something more? Greeks are arguing whether deep spending cuts from EU-imposed austerity made a bad situation truly catastrophic.

Firefighters say their budgets and wages have been cut; they even have to buy their own uniforms. Many fire trucks sit unrepaired and useless, while water-bombing planes are frequently grounded.

We've been paying with our own blood for a debt they created. It was not an accident. It is a crime demanding justice and punishment – former parliamentary Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou

Reporter - Eric Campbell

Producer - Mark Corcoran
Camera - Greg Nelson
Editor - Garth Thomas
Executive Producer - Marianne Leitch

*This is the last episode of Foreign Correspondent's current season. The program will return in early January.

Next Episode of Foreign Correspondent is

Season 2024 / Episode 13 and airs on 18 July 2024 10:00

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