Three years ago, Britain had a new prime minister and a promise to take the UK 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. Theresa May failed to deliver, and it cost her the top job. 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. Originally broadcast by the BBC’s Panorama program, this episode of Four Corners serves as a precursor to the following week’s episode, which sees ABC chief correspondent Phil Williams report on what happens now that populist Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the man in charge of both the United Kingdom and the chief Brexit negotiator.
In the 2016 race to the White House, presidential candidate Donald Trump took a shine to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, led by its Australian founder Julian Assange. Trump revelled in the damage inflicted upon his opponent, Hillary Clinton, by a series of sensational leaks published by the site. Now, as president, Trump has performed a spectacular flip, presiding over an administration determined to imprison the publisher of the leaks. Julian Assange is now in a British jail cell, fighting attempts to extradite him to the US, where he is facing 17 espionage charges. Despite emphatic denials from supporters of his whistleblowing, the relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton during the US election campaign and his ties to Russia have fuelled suspicion that there was more to WikiLeaks' activities than a commitment to extreme disclosure. The decision by the Trump administration to charge Assange with espionage has provoked even some of his most ardent critics to speak out against a broader campaign to silence whistleblowers and shut down scrutiny of governments.
Julian Assange is one of the most influential figures to emerge this century. The Australian born founder of WikiLeaks has harnessed the technology of the digital age to unleash an information war against governments and corporations. WikiLeaks has collaborated with anonymous sources to release highly classified and often deeply embarrassing information to the world. The organisation exploded onto the world stage in 2010 when it began publishing a series of spectacular leaks laying bare the conduct of the United States. At the centre of it all was Julian Assange. The leaks sparked ferocious debate over the right to know and the right to keep secrets. 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. He is facing extradition to the United States on espionage charges stemming from the spectacular 2010 leaks by Private Chelsea Manning. With the legal fight in full swing, Assange's supporters, even some of his critics, warn that his prosecution marks a very dangerous new chapter for freedom of speech and the public's right to know.
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. But even those still left in their homes are being monitored using cutting edge technology, mass surveillance tools and artificial intelligence systems - with concerning evidence about Australia's links to China's dystopian surveillance state and the tools being used to racially profile its own citizens. The events unfolding in China are creating heartbreak for Uyghurs in Australia. They have stayed quiet for fear of provoking the authorities into punishing their relatives. Now, in desperation they are breaking their silence to tell the world what is going on.
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. On Monday, Four Corners investigates whether the contentious plan has become a colossal waste of taxpayers' money. 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. Billions of taxpayers' dollars are being poured into grants handed to irrigators in an attempt to save more water. But how is the money being spent? Some irrigators say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform their businesses, while others are questioning who is actually gaining the most from the generous scheme. Meanwhile, some are questioning whether the scheme is actually encouraging the planting of crops even thirstier than cotton, setting the timer on a potential ticking time bomb.
In increasingly alarming scenes, the US 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. In the past two weeks, these tensions have ratcheted up even further with unprovoked attacks on oil tankers and the shooting down of a US military drone and imposition of US sanctions. 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, Qassem Suleimani. Featuring interviews with key American and British defence and intelligence figures who have gone toe to toe with Iran for decades, the program outlines how Major General Suleimani's Iranian forces have repeatedly intervened in key conflicts like the Iraq war. As fears grow of an armed confrontation, veteran Iran watchers urge caution.
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.
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. Featuring key players who have served in the Trump administration, the program analyses the forces at work with the US government and what they believe is at stake.
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 Bourke Street attack. Despite a guilty verdict there are still outstanding questions about why James Gargasoulas was able to carry out such a crime. In his first media interview, Gargasoulas' brother Angelo recounts his brother's extreme violence over many years, beginning with their deeply troubled childhood in outback Coober Pedy. Angelo was both a witness and a victim of his brother's brutality even in the days and hours before the Bourke Street attack.
Thirty years ago, in the centre of China's communist capital, Tiananmen Square, millions of students and citizens staged weeks of protests calling for democracy. The students and their fellow protestors 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. This incredible archive stored away by the ABC for 30 years has now been carefully pieced together to show how the shocking events unfolded.
On April 15 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.
On Saturday May 18, 2019, 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. Four Corners brings you the inside story of how the battle for Warringah was lost and won. 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.
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 reveals a new child detention crisis in another part of Australia, Queensland, where children as young as 10 have been held alongside adult criminals in maximum security facilities. With exclusive access, Four Corners 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.
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.
The controversial police technique putting innocent people behind bars. 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. The technique sees police officers wage psychological war on suspects through a nine step interrogation process. Wrongful conviction investigators say the process is a travesty of justice, with lawyers warning wrongful convictions will continue to occur without changes to the justice system.
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. The children of the notorious jihadist Khaled Sharrouf were taken to the self-declared caliphate in 2014. The world learned of them after their father published pictures of his eldest son holding the severed head of an IS prisoner, sending shockwaves around the world. For five years their grandmother, Karen Nettleton, has been trying to reach the children and bring them home. She has mounted several rescue missions, with each one ending in failure. Now, in Syria, she's making a last-ditch effort to save them from a squalid refugee camp. 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.
A joint investigation by Four Corners, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald reveals fresh and compelling evidence of covert Beijing-backed political activity taking place in Australia. The investigation has uncovered secret information gathering operations targeting sensitive Australian intelligence analysis. It also reveals how Chinese authorities are stifling dissenting voices by targeting members of the Chinese-Australian community who fail to toe the party line.
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.
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