John Highfield Retires from ABC after 35 years

The ABC has put on a special goodbye function for veteran journalist and presenter, John Highfield, who is retiring after more than 35 years with the national broadcaster.

He has told radioinfo he intends to spend a couple of restful weeks in tropical North Queensland, and will then consider a number of possible projects.

Managing Director, Russell Balding, and the Director of News and Current Affairs, John Cameron, have been among those to speak at the function.

During his marathon stint with ABC radio, Highfield worked in the Canberra Press Gallery, he was Chief Correspondent for ‘AM’ and ‘PM’ and, most recently, was a co-presenter on ‘The World Today’.

‘PM’ presenter, Mark Colvin, has paid tribute to his friend: “As well as his unfailing energy, what I chiefly remember about him from that time was that even on a slow news day, when everyone was struggling, he would turn up out of nowhere with a report or an interview that pushed the big story forwards.

“John Highfield has always had an ability to spin gold out of straw.

“John ceased to present The World Today last year after one of the longest, high profile, on air reporting careers in ABC history. He’s been managing journalists’ training since then.

“John Highfield it was who presented the first edition of this program, PM, more than 35 years ago but, even then, he was a highly experienced broadcaster. He’d paid his dues in commercial radio in the late fifties, first as a panel operator at Sydney’s 2UE, then, swapping stations, as a news reporter.”

Highfield has also taken the opportunity to look back on his career: “It was 35 years ago on a similar Autumn day, just like today, that I walked into the ABC Radio News Department, looking for some journalistic work. I started that same afternoon as a casual reporter, covering the story of a big fire in Sydney’s western suburbs. I’ve been covering fires of one sort or another I guess ever since.”