WHEN SOMEBODY SAID Derryn Hinch was a man of his convictions, his response was speedy and accurate: ‘I just wish I didn’t have so many’.
It is true. In a career spanning more than 50 years in newspapers, radio, TV and the internet, the veteran journalist has been jailed, fined, done community service and served five months under house arrest. His convictions – some for contempt and breaching suppression orders – have all stemmed from a belief in the journalistic creed: the public’s right to know.
His 2014 campaign was to complete a ten-day, 180-kilometre, walk from Langi Kal Kal Prison (where he had just served 50 days in lieu of a $100,000 fine for contempt) to Victoria’s Parliament House to present a petition with nearly 130,000 names calling for a national public register of convicted paedophiles.
The past five years have been big ones for Derryn Hinch, both personally and professionally.
In January, 2010 he passed a milestone. He celebrated his 50 years as a journalist. In September that year he was diagnosed with liver cancer and told he had only12 months to live unless he received a donor organ.
house arrest for breaching suppression orders
The year 2011, possibly his last, proved to be an even bigger one. Especially the month of July. On July 6, with only a few weeks to live, he received a life-saving liver transplant.
Two weeks later he sat in a Melbourne courtroom to be sentenced to five months under house arrest for breaching suppression orders and naming two serial child sex offenders at a Name Them and Shame Them rally on the steps of Parliament House and also on his old hinch.net website. For 153 days he was banned from leaving his house except for medical appointments. Banned from broadcasting his radio program. (In fact, banned from any ‘gainful employment’.)
And prohibited from using emails,N Twitter – where he now has nearly 50,000 followers -- Facebook, granting interviews or having any contact with journalists.
He was even stopped from advertising his latest book, Human Headlines- My 50 Years in the Media even though it was published months before his sentencing. His latest book, A Human Deadline – a Story of Life, Death, Hope and House Arrest was published in 2012.
Hinch has appeared in several movies, including The Wog Boy, on television in Underbelly and City Homicide and on stage as The Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show for 50 performances at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre. Hinch used to threaten that he would eventually write an autobiography and call it Famous People Who Have Met Me. He was joking.
Eventually he wrote three. The first, a kind of personal biography about the private thoughts of a public person with his sign-off line That’s Life as the title. The second, his fall from professional and financial success, called The Fall and Rise of Derryn Hinch. His book on life and love, You Are So Beautiful, The passion and the pain of relationships was published in 2006. And his personal story about alcohol abuse, called I Beat the Booze – And you can too, was published in 2009.
former Midday host and former jailbird
A national magazine once referred to him as ‘the former Derryn Hinch’. And there have been a lot of ‘former’ situations in his life. He is a former police rounds reporter, former foreign correspondent, former newspaper editor, former host of national current affairs shows, former novelist, former radio host in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, former Midday host and former jailbird.
In 1986, Hinch was sentenced to six weeks jail and fined $25,000 over a contempt of court charge when he deliberately revealed the name of a convicted child molesting priest. He spent 12 days in Pentridge and Morwell.
For eleven years, Hinch covered both North and South America for the Sydney Morning Herald and other Fairfax papers as well as Macquarie Radio. He was there on the spot at Cape Canaveral when man first went to the moon. He was there for such turning points in history as the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy. He was there when President Nixon resigned at the peak of the Watergate scandal. Hinch has reported from China, India, Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, England, Europe, the United States. Covered events like the famine in Ethiopia where he saw 25,000 people die. In sports he covered the U.S Open, the PGA and The Masters in golf and the U.S Open in tennis. He spent so much time in Newport covering the America’s Cup that he wrote a thriller novel about it called Death in Newport.
In politics, Hinch has met every Australian Prime Minister from Bob Menzies to Tony Abbott. He has been in the Oval Office at the White House. Interviewed such diverse politicians as Senator Edward Kennedy and Andrew Peacock.
In entertainment Hinch has interviewed such big names as Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Taylor, Geena Davis, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Harrison Ford, Catherine Deneuve, Mae West, Peter Finch and Rod Taylor. And he was the Dalai Lama’s choice for his only Australian interview in 2007 when Hinch talked to him for the third time in twenty years.
At home in Australia he has interviewed every major male and female star over the years — and was also married to a national icon, Academy Award nominee Jacki Weaver, for fourteen years. He was the first person in a decade to interview fugitive businessman Christopher Skase in Majorca after he fled Australia.
sharp, shrewd, sense of humour.
Despite the sometimes gruff exterior that beamed out of the television set into your living room in prime time for all those years, he does have a sharp, sometimes shrewd, sense of humour.
His appeal apparently bridges the so called generation gap. He has made several national appearances on Triple J Radio and with Hamish and Andy on FOX-FM and when he won an Adelaide nightclub competition as Adelaide’s Most Popular Personality he asked several how they even knew him. One 19-year-old said “You’re a Lege, Dezza”. Apparently that means ‘legend’. Another explained that when she was growing up her mother would say ‘hurry up and finish your dinner. Hinch is on in ten minutes’.
Derryn Hinch first joined 3AW in 1979. He went on to become the undisputed King of Melbourne radio – with the highest morning ratings ever achieved then or now --before leaving to start the top-rating HINCH on the Seven Network and then the Ten Network. He re-joined 3AW for the third time (after a year doing Nightline in 2000) in February 2003. And was No.1 when fired in 2012.
He’s still doing what he does best: breaking news, sometimes making news, expressing his opinions on issues across the street and across the world and hoping to make people think on Sunday Night and Sunrise on the Seven Network, on PMLive on SKY, on MMM’s Hot Breakfast with Eddie McGuire and on 2GB Drive with Ben Fordham. He also regularly appears across the ditch on NewsTalkZB.
Hinch has his own website www.humanheadline.com.au on which he posts daily editorials. It also features his Hungry Hinch restaurant reviews, travel articles, showbiz reviews and book offers. In 2010 the website had more than eleven million hits. He also has his own channel called HinchTube on YouTube.
He lives in Melbourne with his partner, photo-journalist Natasha Chadwick, known professionally as Natwick.
Derryn Hinch makes rare appearances at conferences and as an after-dinner guest. He has a unique, opinionated, often controversial, view of history. And he can talk about it lucidly, colourfully and entertainingly. He is an entertaining, informative guest speaker on the media, on life, on politics, on food (he wrote the bestseller The Derryn Hinch Diet) and on relationships.
He is fast on his feet and is happy to answer any and all questions.
Maybe don’t ask him for advice on career moves. He’s been sacked sixteen times!