Journalist Sarah Ferguson has been named as Leigh Sales’ replacement for ABC’s 7:30 nightly program.
The investigative reporter will take over the show in June when Sales steps down after the election, beating rumoured frontrunners Laura Tingle and David Speers for the role.
“I’m delighted to take on the presenter role at 7.30. Led by Leigh and Laura, the 7.30 team has created a powerhouse program,” Ferguson said in a statement.
“I expect to enjoy the role hugely, interviewing is one of the true thrills of journalism. Working in collaboration with the inimitable Laura Tingle is irresistible.
“On Leigh’s departure, I’d like to say that her diligence and skill have made an enormous contribution to Australian journalism. What you don’t see in her calm studio presence is the huge amount of work she does in preparation. It will be a pleasure to take over from such a pro.”
Veteran journalist Sales said she was excited to join Australia in following Ferguson’s journey with the program.
“7.30 is an incredibly important program and I welcome handing the reins to a journalist of Sarah’s rigour and experience,” she said.
“I look forward to finishing up and joining the viewers of Australia to see where she takes it next.”
Fellow journalists took to Twitter to congratulate Ferguson on her new role.
— Laura Tingle (@latingle) April 28, 2022
— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) April 28, 2022
ABC’s Managing Director David Anderson praised Ferguson’s talents, saying her work made her a standout candidate for the role.
“ABC audiences know and respect Sarah for her years of investigative journalism and insightful reporting and as a foreign correspondent. Her work has set an unparalleled standard, not only in Australian journalism but internationally, as evidenced by her recent reporting from Ukraine,” Anderson said.
“Sarah is an exceptional appointment to take over 7.30 hosting duties from Leigh, alongside an outstanding team. 7.30 has been Australia’s premier daily current affairs program for decades and that will continue with Sarah at the helm.”
Leigh Sales announced she was stepping down from the ABC’s nightly current affairs program on February 10, after more than a decade in the role.
“I’ve asked my bosses at the ABC to allow me to step down from anchoring 7.30 later this year, once the federal election is over,” she said.
“I was appointed to the job on the 3rd of December 2010, so this is my 12th year in the seat. That was five Prime Ministers ago! It was so long ago that Donald Trump was still just a guy with a bad orange hairdo hosting The Apprentice.
“I feel a strong sense of it being time to pass the baton to the next runner in the race and to take a break. The end of an election cycle feels like a good time to move on to something new at the ABC.
“I’ve always approached this job with one goal and that is to ask frank questions of people in power, without fear or favour, that a fair-minded, reasonable person with some common sense watching at home might like to ask if they were sitting in my position.
“The team at 7.30 is unparalleled in the media and I could not have more admiration or more gratitude for what they all do. It is an incredibly important program, there is no other show that does what 7.30 does night after night. I know the program is going to keep going from strength to strength, as it always has.”
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Sales said she was looking forward to “taking the rest of 2022 off and planning a huge rest”.