Next Episode of Four Corners is
Season 2019 / Episode 33 and airs on 23 September 2019 10:30
Four Corners is Australia's premier television current affairs program. It has been part of the national story since August 1961, exposing scandals, triggering inquiries, firing debate, confronting taboos and interpreting fads, trends and sub-cultures. Its consistently high standards of journalism and film-making have earned international recognition and an array of Walkleys, Logies and other national awards.
The women who make it and the ones who don't.
"My name is Rahaf Mohammed. I'm 18 years old... They have my passport and tomorrow they will force me to go back...Please help me. They will kill me." Rahaf Al Qunun.
It was a voice of desperation, an urgent SOS to the world. A Saudi teenager, trapped in transit, on the run from her family and the Saudi state, hoping to make it to Australia.
"I planned my escape...I planned it at dawn, paid for my tickets, left in the morning while my family slept and arrived at the airport." Rahaf Al Qunun.
Within hours #saverahaf lit up social media and set off global headlines.
"There was no going back for Rahaf now...I couldn't live with myself if this was a real person and I didn't do what I could to help her." Author.
Four Corners reporter Sophie McNeill flew to Bangkok, slipped past security and joined Rahaf Al Qunun as the young woman barricaded herself inside the room.
"An official...has just knocked on the door and tried to get Rahaf to leave, she's refused... they've tried all sorts of ways of enticing her out of the room." Sophie McNeill, reporter.
On Monday Four Corners reveals how the extraordinary events unfolded, using exclusive previously unseen video recorded by both Sophie McNeill and Rahaf herself. The program captures moments of high tension, despair and eventual jubilation when Rahaf is offered asylum in Canada.
Rahaf is one of the lucky ones; not every woman gains her freedom. In this dramatic investigation, Four Corners reveals how Australia has become a hotspot for women attempting to escape the oppressive Saudi regime. Not everyone makes it.
"They beat her. They taped her mouth shut. They bound her arms and legs together, and dragged her onto a plane kicking and screaming, and nobody did anything. This is a grown woman." Author.
The program shows the tactics used and the pressure applied to try to stop these young women.
"The Saudi state is active in exerting its diplomatic influence to try to interdict them." Human rights investigator.
Those lucky enough to make it to Australia say they are still at risk. The investigation has uncovered multiple cases of Saudi women here in Australia, living in fear, telling reporter Sophie McNeill of the attempts to intimidate or trick them into returning them home.
"They are trying to reach the girls and speak to them to convince them to return back to Saudi." Saudi woman in Australia.
Escape from Saudi, reported by Sophie McNeill and presented by Sarah Ferguson.
The cyber criminals breaking hearts and stealing billions.
"The criminals involved in this are definitely masters of manipulation. This is their job and they're very good at it, and they're very proud of being good at it." Cyber scam expert.
Their voices are persuasive, their emails insistent and they have proven to be remarkably successful at conning countless people into handing over their money.
"When you have an appreciation for how big and sophisticated it is, this machine that's behind it that's targeting them, that's where it sorts of tends to awaken one." Police officer.
Internet scamming began in the early days of email with appeals from Nigerian 'princes' asking for help to regain their missing money. From those amateurish beginnings, the scammers watched, learned and refined their techniques. What started out as a simple scam from West Africa has now morphed into a global enterprise, conning people on an industrial scale.
"West African cybercrime is the biggest threat that we see on the internet today. It eclipses all the other threats that we've seen that are financially motivated." Cyber security investigator.
On Monday Four Corners investigates how these scams operate, uncovering an online marketplace where fake identities and criminal skills are bought and sold.
"They offer Facebook profiles for sale, they offer pictures of uniformed servicemen for sale, they offer the backstory and kind of how you get started." Retired US army colonel.
Reporter Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop travelled to Ghana to meet the scammers and watch them at work.
"The best targets are people who are divorced or widowed." Scammer.
At the heart of their business is the 'romance scam', where criminals, often posing as lovelorn US soldiers, convince their victims to send them money.
"Over the course of the last two years, I've reported over 3,000 accounts to Facebook of scammers using my pictures to steal money from women." Retired US army colonel.
For some, the romance scam is just the start of the nightmare, with victims used to launder money or conned into trafficking drugs, with devastating consequences.
"When they opened it and tested it and told me what it was, I was in complete shock, complete shock." Drug mule.
And there's growing evidence that the scammers are not only targeting Australian victims, they're also setting up operations right here.
Meet the scammers, reported by Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop.
"I'm a hired gun to help either large corporates or governments to get back what is rightfully theirs." Asset recovery agent.
As China has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse, billions of dollars have been illegally spirited out of the country. A large amount has made its way here to Australia.
"I think it's been well understood for a number years that Australia has been a target location for hot money... We've seen that activity increase exponentially over the last number of years." Financial crimes investigator.
Chinese authorities want the money back, and they've sent a clear message to anyone who has broken their rules - we will find you and your money.
"It seems as if there's more than enough evidence that at least in jurisdictions like...Australia, the US and America, coercive tactics were used to force people back to China." Transnational crime expert.
Now China has opened up a new front in its war on those accused of financial crimes. On Monday Four Corners will reveal the new tactics being used by Chinese authorities to take back money they believe has been stashed illegally in Australia.
"The mission is a recovery of funds that have been filtered from China to Australia." Private investigator.
A new breed of financial bounty hunters is on the case, and their target is Australian real estate.
"There's what we're referring to as a cluster of properties... Most of them, or all of them waterfront, luxuriously appointed." Security consultant.
With exclusive access to these investigators, reporter Mark Willacy sees first hand the extraordinary lengths they are going to.
"We can sell it and return the money back to China. Everyone's happy...it's a legal plan. There's no drama." Private investigator.
With questions being asked about the legality of their actions and the reach of the Chinese state, it's a high risk operation.
"I think they have to tread carefully. One of the challenges they've got is that they need to walk a very, very narrow line." Financial crimes investigator.
For the recovery agents themselves, they believe they are onto a financial winner.
"There's a huge opportunity to develop and exploit this business channel, especially when it comes to Chinese money of dubious origin that has parked itself in Australia." Asset recovery agent.
"We're criminalising more women than ever before." Prisoner rights activist.
"I have been to prison five times... I have been to prison for break and enter, driving while disqualified, driving under the influence of ice and escape police custody." Bekki.
Bekki has just walked out of prison after serving a six-month jail sentence. The cameras are rolling as she takes her first steps.
"It's great to be out...I've got some underwear, some papers and $50 and that's it." Bekki.
She's part of a fast growing group of criminals sentenced to jail in Australia. Across the nation, there are now more women in prison than ever before. And once they're out they're very likely to re-offend and end up back inside.
"I've been to prison four times. I was in prison for drug dealing. The hardest thing about staying out of prison is dealing with the isolation, the judgements, the stigma." Fran.
On Monday Four Corners investigates why so many women are going to jail by meeting three women who know exactly what it's like.
"Women's prisons are filled with stories of people like me." Bekki.
Filmed over three months, Bekki, Fran and Donna give raw and compelling accounts of their lives as they begin again on the outside.
"I need a job and I need a job fast. I am willing to do anything, you know, clean toilets if I have to. I don't care." Fran.
Each one must overcome their own demons while convincing the world around them that they are worth another chance.
"I have been to prison more than 30 times...The hardest thing for me to stay out of prison is being judged for my criminal history." Donna.
The vast majority of women who land in prison have been physically or sexually abused. Many have turned to drugs, and then a life of crime. Their chances of rehabilitation are made harder as they often struggle to find work, housing and support on the outside.
"No one wants to employ you when there's 100 other applicants that don't have criminal records. So why would they want to employ you? Sometimes I feel like I'm just beating my head against a brick wall." Fran.
The camera captures the highs and lows as they search for accommodation and a job.
"It would be lovely to be able to help her, she's a person that is in housing need. It's really sad and you know you want to help everybody [but] you can't." Emergency Housing coordinator.
Despite their troubled histories, Bekki, Fran and Donna make progress. Their experiences give real insight into how to break the cycle.
"It's a whole new chapter in my life absolutely. Only good things come from here. I've got such a good feeling. I've got such a good feeling, there's hope, it's given me hope." Fran.
Criminalising Women, produced by Janine Cohen.
On Monday, Four Corners reveals how Australia's highest ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, was brought to justice.
"He was a man that was so high up in the hierarchy that you, he believed, he was untouchable." Former choirboy
The conviction of the Cardinal for sexual offences against two teenage boys was suppressed by the court. Now the story of what happened to them can be told.
"I'm just disgusted. I'm just disgusted in the whole, I'm disgusted in the Catholic Church." Father
Those central to the case are speaking out for the first time to reporter Louise Milligan.
"It's let people down. It let my son down." Father
Guilty - The conviction of Cardinal Pell, reported by Louise Milligan.
Most Australians had probably never heard of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum till his horse Cross Counter won the Melbourne Cup last year after a two-decade campaign. Now he's in the headlines again, for a very different reason.
Last year, his daughter, the Princess Latifa, then aged 32, ran away to escape a life of regal confinement in the hyper wealthy financial hub and tourist destination of Dubai.
After fleeing first by car and then jetski, Latifa was dramatically re-captured on a boat in international waters by armed men.
In heart stopping interviews, those on-board recount how the events unfolded.
Uber is one of the most recognisable brands in the world. It's embedded itself in our language and revolutionised the way we think about transport.
Since emerging nine years ago on the streets of San Francisco, the edgy digital disruptor has upended an entire industry business model and made ride sharing cool.
But Uber's ride to success has been far from smooth. Behind the slick marketing an aggressive corporate culture has been at work.
On Monday Four Corners investigates how Uber has been outfoxing regulators and outmuscling its competitors in Australia and around the world.
The Christchurch massacre and the rise of right-wing extremism.
"Grafton is a monochrome, traditional, beautiful little country town. We now have... the distinction of having given the world a gentleman who's turned out to be Australia's worst mass murderer." Grafton resident.
The terror attack in the New Zealand city of Christchurch appalled the world. The indiscriminate shooting of 50 Muslim worshippers during Friday prayers was calculated to spread fear and a message of right-wing terror.
"My feeling is that he chose New Zealand because it was a soft target in terms of security and perhaps, he chose it to illustrate that even a relatively tolerant quiet society on the very edge of the world was not immune to terrorism." Far-right extremism researcher.
On Monday, Four Corners investigates how the Australian born accused killer was able to operate under the radar.
"They go to these forums where they can talk about this stuff safely. No-one knows who they are... They can talk about that far right violent extremism there, where they can talk about hating and, and killing." Former right-wing extremist.
The plot was intricately planned, harnessing the tools and the power of the internet, to amplify the terror to a global audience.
"He's made it clear by his own recording that he was driven by hatred of Muslims and by racist ideas, and he identifies as a white supremacist, although he may not be able to spell those words, but they're the kind of cultural values that he's tied himself." Grafton resident.
The attack brought to light the violent and disturbing right-wing extremist movement that is flourishing on the internet and finding a home in both New Zealand and Australia.
"I guess people don't realise, there's all these far-right groups out there." Former right-wing extremist.
The program investigates whether authorities have been so focused on Islamic extremism that they've failed to grasp another deadly threat, the rise of far-right white supremacists.
"I'm aware that intelligence agencies have been monitoring these groups, but my concern is that what they've done is that they've tended to focus on Islamic terrorism at the expense of really paying enough attention to the extreme right." Extremist researcher.
Under the radar, reported by Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop.
Climate of Change, reported by Stephanie March.
The struggle to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change policy has been one of the most divisive issues in modern Australian political history. It has brought down governments and toppled political leaders.
At times the debate has become so polarised that the average Australian could be forgiven for tuning out.
With a Federal election looming, Four Corners brings the debate back to what is actually happening in the nation right now.
So much focus has been placed on energy policy, electricity prices and the role of coal, but this is only one part of the picture.
Four Corners walks you through key areas of everyday life and industrial production which fuel our carbon emissions - from the cars we drive, the animals we breed to gas we export.
The program investigates whether Australia is on track to deliver on the targets the nation has pledged to fulfil, and what effect the policies of successive governments have had on our emissions.
Interference, reported by Nick McKenzie.
New evidence of China's covert political influence campaign in Australia.
"We've had multiple briefings at the top-secret level from ASIO and other agencies that foreign interference is being conducted in Australia at an unprecedented level." Federal Intelligence and Security Committee member.
In 2017, Four Corners, in a joint investigation with The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, revealed the lengths the Chinese Communist Party was going to, to influence Australia's politicians. In response, the federal government passed new laws to ban foreign interference.
"Political systems and parties just took what they could for as long as they could get away with it." Former prime ministerial adviser.
Now, in a new investigation, the joint reporting team can reveal fresh and compelling evidence of covert Beijing-backed political activity taking place in Australia.
"Chinese foreign policy is now following a much more assertive and, in some cases, aggressive approach." China analyst.
The investigation has uncovered secret information gathering operations targeting sensitive Australian intelligence analysis. And despite the new laws, there is evidence that Australian politicians have not listened to the warnings issued by Australia's own intelligence agencies.
"The Chinese Communist Party has sought to use all sorts of vehicles to have non-transparent mechanisms, means of influencing the politics in Australia and elsewhere." Former prime ministerial adviser.
Politicians are not the only ones receiving Beijing's attention. The investigation will reveal how Chinese authorities are stifling dissenting voices by targeting members of the Chinese-Australian community who fail to toe the party line.
"There is always a red line that everyone is actually quite afraid of crossing...because of repercussions from the Chinese consulate or the Chinese government." Newspaper publisher.
Four Corners exclusively brings you the story of the Sharrouf children and their grandmother's epic fight to find them and bring them home to Australia.
If there was one family that represented the alarming tide of Australians flocking to the black flag of Islamic State, it was the Sharroufs.
Reporter Dylan Welch and producer Suzanne Dredge have documented the family's experience for four years, travelling with the children's grandmother as she tries to convince the authorities in Syria and Australia to release the family into her care and allow them to return home.
The idea that anyone would willingly confess to a crime they didn't commit sounds unbelievable, particularly when the punishment may be life in prison or even the death penalty.
But a series of high-profile cases across America has revealed a slew of wrongful convictions based on false confessions and placed the spotlight on a widely used police interrogation technique designed to make people confess.
Across Australia the university business is booming. Higher education institutions that only a few years ago were cash strapped are now flush with billions of dollars brought in from fee paying international students.
But there are growing concerns about the consequences of the overseas student boom.
Four Corners investigates how Australia's higher education system is being undermined by a growing reliance on foreign fee-paying students.
It's almost three years since Four Corners exposed shocking revelations of mistreatment in the Northern Territory's Don Dale youth detention centre in Australia's Shame, sparking a Royal Commission.
Now the program is set to reveal a new child detention crisis in another part of Australia, where children as young as 10 have been held alongside adult criminals in maximum security facilities.
With exclusive access, the program goes behind the locked cell doors to reveal how young people, most of whom have not yet been convicted of a crime, are being held, sometimes for weeks at a time.
What was previously titled as "The Fight of His Life" is now "Abbott's End: How Tony Abbott Lost the Fight of His Political Life."
Here are both press releases, before and after election results.
"This is the fight of my life, and I think I'm up for it." Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott has been many things; a Rhodes scholar, an MP, a brutally effective Opposition leader and a triumphant Prime Minister, only to be deposed by his colleagues. He is seen as one of the most combative figures in politics and a warrior for conservative voices. Now, after 25 years in federal parliament, the Liberal MP for Warringah says he is in the fight of his political life.
"I think that Tony Abbott's time in politics has come, and gone." Peter Fitzsimons, columnist
"I think it's all just to oust Tony Abbott and I just think it's nasty." Warringah voter
Ahead of Saturday's vote, Four Corners has been documenting the unfolding campaign. On Monday the program will examine how the seat was won and lost and what that means for the future of the Liberal Party.
"It is a very seminal moment in the history of the Liberal Party." Alan Jones, broadcaster
The program examines how an insurgency from within the seat of Warringah began and shows the forces that have shaped it.
Mr Abbott's challenger is the independent candidate, Zali Steggall, who has sought to turn the vote into a virtual referendum on climate change, transforming the issue that's made him a hero of the right, into potential political poison on home soil.
"I'm their worst nightmare." Zali Steggall, independent candidate
The contest has also been defined by the involvement of powerful political activist organisations like GetUp and Advance Australia, leading many political watchers to say we are now operating in a new realm of politics.
"The more effective we are the more they'll fight back." Paul Oosting, GetUp
"GetUp are… the most powerful political organisation outside the union movement." Gerard Benedet, Advance Australia
The result will have powerful ramifications far beyond the seat of Warringah, with many believing the result will determine the future of the Liberal Party.
Abbott's End: How Tony Abbott lost the fight of his political life
"If I had to lose, so be it. I'd rather be a loser than a quitter." Tony Abbott.
On Saturday night, the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott lost the fight of his political life. His 25-year career as the member for Warringah was ended by the independent candidate Zali Steggall.
On Monday, Four Corners brings you the inside story of how the battle for Warringah was lost and won. Over the course of the campaign, reporter Sean Nicholls has been documenting the hardest fought contest of the election. In interviews with key players, the program reveals the strategy behind the Steggall campaign, the roots of the insurgency within the seat of Warringah and the roles played by the key activist groups, GetUp and Advance Australia.
With Tony Abbott's political career at an end, all eyes will be on the Liberal Party to see if the divisions that roiled the last two governments are at an end.
On the 15th of April, the world watched on in horror as one of France's most famous landmarks, Notre-Dame Cathedral caught alight.
The Cathedral had stood for more than 800 years, through revolutions and world wars, but as the flames took hold, the architectural icon was in peril.
What took place over the next nine hours was an epic battle by some 400 firefighters to save the building. In this dramatic film, those leading the operation explain how events unfolded.
Thirty years ago, in the centre of China's communist capital, millions of students and citizens staged weeks of protests calling for democracy.
The students and their fellow protesters stared down their government in the full gaze of the world's media, demanding an end to totalitarian rule.
Then, the People's Liberation Army turned its guns, and its tanks, on its own people.
Three decades on, Four Corners vividly brings the story of these momentous times to life, drawing upon a trove of vision and audio captured by ABC reporters and crews in that astonishing spring of 1989.
James Gargasoulas was a 26-year-old heavy drug user with an extensive criminal record when he drove a car at high speed through central Melbourne killing six people, including a baby boy and a 10-year-old girl.
He was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year for the January 2017 attack. Despite a guilty verdict there are still outstanding questions about why James Gargasoulas was able to carry out such a crime.
Four Corners investigates how James Gargasoulas was out roaming the suburbs of Melbourne despite facing serious criminal charges and clear warning signs that he presented a grave danger to others.
US President Donald Trump has ignited a massive trade war with China, slapping billions of dollars worth of tariffs on Chinese goods. In doing so, he says he's delivering on his promise to Make America Great Again.
Despite the rhetoric, questions are being asked about who has the most to lose from the conflict.
On Monday Four Corners examines the forces behind the conflict, on both sides.
Australia boasts a stunning array of unique wildlife. They feature on our coat of arms and they're placed front and centre in our tourism campaigns. But the reality is, many of our native animals are in danger.
Australia has one of the worst extinction rates on the planet and the problem is growing. There are currently more than 500 animal species under threat.
Four Corners investigates how Australia has found itself in the midst of an extinction crisis.
In increasingly alarming scenes, the United States and Iran are facing off in the Middle East. Tensions have been escalating steadily for the last two months, driven by concerns over the Islamic Republic's nuclear capabilities.
There are concerns that the two nations are headed towards military conflict.
The key figure in Iran's strategic manoeuvring, and one of the most powerful military figures in the Middle East, is a shadowy figure in Iran's feared Revolutionary Guard.
In this timely program from the BBC, a portrait of Iran's military ambitions, and the man masterminding them emerges.
Two years on from the Four Corners investigation into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin that sparked a royal commission, the program returns to the river system to investigate new concerns about how the plan to rescue it is being carried out.
The river system is the lifeblood of Australian agriculture but right now it's in crisis. It's experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, and with mass fish deaths capturing the headlines and farmers struggling to survive, many are saying the scheme is failing to deliver.
Four Corners investigates whether the contentious Murray-Darling Basin plan has become a colossal waste of taxpayers' money.
It's a remote corner of the world, but what is taking place there is nothing short of breathtaking.
Xinjiang province is a vast area of deserts and mountains where the ancient Silk Road once ran. Today its Uyghur population is being systematically rounded up with estimates of as many as a million citizens being held in detention.
In this investigation by reporter Sophie McNeill, Four Corners uncovers disturbing evidence of how China is effectively operating the world's largest prison.
Julian Assange is one of the most influential figures of our time. The Australian born founder of WikiLeaks harnessed technology to champion free speech and the right to know. But is he a hero or villain?
Now Julian Assange is in the fight of his life. In April this year he was dragged, protesting, from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, nearly seven years after seeking diplomatic protection.
Three years ago, Britain had a new Prime Minister and a promise to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union by delivering on the people's vote for "Brexit".
What had been presented as a simple proposition - for the UK to leave - has turned into a political nightmare, dividing former allies, British political parties and the people of an increasingly dis-United Kingdom.
Now Britain's new PM, Boris Johnson, is making bold promises to "leave".
In this revealing account, key negotiators and politicians on both sides of the Channel tell the inside story of the Brexit debacle.
The elevation of Boris Johnson to the Prime Ministership of Great Britain has been greeted with elation in some quarters, with undisguised horror in others.
Elected by members of his own party, not by the people, Britain's 77th Prime Minister has ridden into office on the back of the big bold promise to deliver Brexit come hell or highwater and the stakes couldn't be higher.
The ABC's chief foreign correspondent and former long-time Europe correspondent, Philip Williams, reports on the rise of Boris Johnson.
For 20 years the nation's city skylines have been changing with the building of more than 650,000 apartments across the country.
Glossy advertising has wooed buyers away from the traditional Aussie dream of a house with promises of sophisticated apartment living and high-end finishes. But the shine has well and truly come off the apartment property boom.
On Monday Four Corners investigates Australia's apartment building crisis, from shoddy workmanship to lax laws, leaving owners out of pocket and in some cases out of a home altogether.
National security versus the public's right to know. The extraordinary steps Australia's government took to prosecute a former spy and his lawyer for conspiring to reveal secret intelligence operations aimed at a foreign government.
For 12 weeks Hong Kong has been convulsed by turmoil as pro-democracy flash mob protestors rise up against mainland Chinese rule. We go on the frontline to witness the escalating violence and chaos with extraordinary footage.
How your postcode can determine the quality of care you get. Medical staff speak out about the standard of hospital care after a series of catastrophic incidents resulting in preventable death, injury or permanent disability.
Social media has transformed how we communicate and share thoughts. But it has morphed into the perfect platform for orchestrated disinformation campaigns, making it increasingly difficult to distinguish real from fake info.
Sarah Ferguson(Sarah Ferguson)
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