Four Corners investigates how a nation as rich as Australia is in coal, gas, sunshine and wind, has found itself in the middle of an energy crisis. For a decade, the politicisation of energy policy has divided the major political parties and brought down their leaders. The result is an uncertain energy future and soaring power bills. On the eve of the federal budget, the program charts how short-term politics has repeatedly overridden the national interest. Four Corners has travelled across the nation to see how the lack of affordable and reliable power is driving some businesses to the wall, others are going offshore. And with experts forecasting that winter will bring even higher power bills as well as blackouts next summer, there are calls to end the politicking and for real action to be taken.
On Four Corners, Australian sporting champions reveal their struggles to restart their lives after their elite sporting careers have ended. Their accounts are raw, deeply personal and in some cases, shocking. One elite swimmer tells of how she went from being ranked No.1 in the world to the dole. A world class superstar reveals their fight to overcome a dependence on prescription drugs used to numb the pain caused by injury. One former cricket star explains how he went from living the dream life to his current job as a road surfacer. All describe the mental anguish they've been through as they grappled with finding a place in the real world. Former Wallaby Dan Vickerman took his own life in February, devastating those around him. In moving interviews his former teammates reflect on the challenges of life after sport and the painful soul searching they've been through in the months since his death. These elite athletes are urging sporting bodies to do more to prepare sports men and women for life after their careers have ended.
The images of Syrian men, women and children killed in a chemical gas attack in April appalled the world, and led the US to unleash an air strike on the Syrian regime. But as shocking as the use of these weapons is, it was just the latest act of brutality rained down on the citizens of Syria by the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Now, international pressure is rising for Assad and his regime to be held to account for years of atrocities. In a secret location in Europe, war crimes investigators have been building a criminal case against the Syrian regime. Using a cache of more than 600,000 smuggled documents, investigators have been piecing together evidence of what has happened to the thousands of Syrians who have been killed, tortured or "disappeared" at the hands of the Assad government. Investigators have amassed a vast trove of evidence, including thousands of photographs smuggled out by a regime defector. The investigators have also interviewed hundreds of people whose names appear on arrest lists and interrogation notes, along with survivors, former prisoners and family members of Assad's victims, who say they want the perpetrators brought before a court. Now, the war crimes investigators believe they have the evidence needed.
"What's on your mind?" It's the friendly Facebook question which lets you share what you're thinking and what you've been up to. It's also the question that unlocks the details of your life and helps turn your thoughts into Facebook's profits. Four Corners explores the world of Facebook and how your data is being mined to drive the huge success of the social media giant. Reporter Peter Greste examines the Facebook business model and shows why your private life is making them billions. The program investigates how Facebook has the ability to track much of your browsing history, even when you're not logged on, and even if you aren't a member of the social network at all. And shows how the methods used to deliver targeted advertising also drives what "news" appears in your Facebook feed, and why you are unlikely to see anything that challenges your world view. This feedback loop is fuelling the rise and power of "fake news". With more than 16 million Australian Facebook accounts, joining more than a billion other users, Four Corners investigates how much we are giving up to be part of the social network.
When Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party stormed back into politics as a major force, it was done on the promise they would be nothing like the "mainstream" political parties they and their supporters loathe. But Four Corners reveals the brutal backroom politics ripping into Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. Reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna investigates the party's inner workings and explores how former supporters have been left disenchanted, asking for Pauline Hanson to "please explain".
Four Corners exposes what happens behind closed doors in some taxpayer-funded group homes for the disabled and talks to the mothers and carers taking on the system. These are families who've made the tough decision to place their disabled children into care, in the belief it would be the safest place for them. They say their trust has been betrayed. This Four Corners investigation shines a light on the mistreatment of these vulnerable people. These are homes where sexual and physical abuse occurs and perpetrators get away with it, because police and the justice system are unable to cope with the challenges of dealing with witnesses with disabilities. One industry watchdog expresses his frustration over the failure of the group home operators to end the mistreatment. And despite the billions promised for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and plans for new protections, some warn that families need to stay vigilant. The mothers and carers who've seen their children come to harm are determined to speak out and demand action.
Four Corners brings you the views of distinguished former members of the US military and senior policy makers who warn that climate change is not only real, it's a threat to global security. They say climate change is impacting on vital resources, migration patterns and conflict zones. The film analyses the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, and the rise of groups like ISIS and how these experts believe climate change is already acting as a catalyst for conflict. Director Jared P Scott explores how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather and rising sea-levels can act as accelerants of instability. These Pentagon insiders say a failure to tackle climate change, conducting 'business as usual', would lead to profound consequences.
"Make America Great Again!" was the catchcry that propelled President Donald Trump all the way to the White House. He tapped into the deep sense of unease felt by many Americans, that despite the nation's economic recovery after the global financial crisis, they have been left behind. Four Corners brings you the story of those Americans desperately hoping for change: America's shrinking middle class who are fast joining the swelling ranks of the working poor. Germania works 18 hours a day at two minimum-wage jobs, but no matter how hard she works, it's not enough. Most of her salary goes on the small motel room she shares with her children and mother-in-law. Her dreams of being a paediatrician have faded. Others chase work across the country. Joe, Chelsie and their three daughters, arrived in Seattle hoping to find jobs in the city's building boom. Instead, they find themselves living in a tent city set up in a church carpark. They're joined by others who never believed they could fall so far down the country's economic ladder. And as companies try to cut costs and move jobs to cheaper areas, many workers are facing an uncertain future for the first time in their working lives.
James Packer and his Crown gambling and entertainment empire have bet big, for more than a decade on China, and its VIP gamblers. These high rollers have fuelled Crown's booming businesses in Asia and Australia. But one night in October last year, all that was turned on its head. Fifteen Crown employees and a number of associates were swept into custody in a carefully coordinated series of raids across four cities in China. Crown's operations had run headlong into China's biggest ever corruption crackdown, leaving its business model in disarray. Four Corners investigates what went wrong for Crown in China. Reporter Marian Wilkinson pieces together the key characters and events in the lead up to the arrests. And explores what this means for Crown's casino business here in Australia, especially the multibillion-dollar Barangaroo project in Sydney, as the bottom falls out of their Chinese high roller market.
Life without plastic is almost unimaginable. It's become central to the way we live our lives - from everyday items like food packaging and water bottles, to sophisticated high-end products. But how many of us know what happens to that plastic when we throw it away? Scientists say vast amounts of our discarded plastic is ending up in the ocean. Working out where that plastic ends up and what impact it has on our oceans has become a major concern for many marine scientists. Four Corners brings you this thought-provoking story from French filmmaker Vincent Perazio in which he examines the work of these scientists investigating our plastic waste. Some are undertaking research to see if plastic is making its way into the food chain, others are looking into the impact on marine life and the environment. The program asks confronting questions about whether or not we need to change the way we deal with the plastics we throw away.
Four Corners takes you to the battlefields of Iraq with the ABC's award-winning Middle East correspondent, Matt Brown. In this gripping film, Matt Brown and cameraman Aaron Hollett, capture the fight to take back the city of Mosul from the IS forces which overran the city two years ago, shocking the world with the speed and the ferocity of their victory. The filming for this story began in October last year when Iraqi forces, backed by US and Australian air power, began their offensive to reclaim Mosul. Over the course of three journeys to the frontline, Matt and Aaron recorded the experiences of the soldiers fighting to liberate their home towns, and the civilians caught in the crossfire. Despite the grief, there are moments of happiness and relief as families are reunited when the IS fighters are pushed back. After months of fighting, government forces enter the suburbs of Mosul. But the city was far from secure, with the pair coming under fire. And in interviews with the former commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, General David Petraeus and his then advisor, former chief strategist for the State Department, David Kilcullen, outline just how hard it will be to truly claim victory against IS.
The figures are startling: seven out of every 10 Australians take some form of vitamin or supplement. We spend more, out of our own pockets, on complementary medicines than we do on prescription drugs. Spruiked by sporting heroes, acting icons and celebrity chefs, the industry is worth over $4 billion. But there is little evidence that many of these products actually work. Many pharmacies have shelves stacked high with vitamins and supplements, prominently displayed at the front of their shops, often sold in tandem with proven pharmaceuticals. Australians are often choosing these complementary medicines as insurance against a bad diet or to ward off sickness, but the benefits are highly contested. The spotlight is now being placed on the industry, with the regulator drafting changes to the way these products are sold and a government review examining whether or not pharmacies should stock them. The program investigates how these products are regulated and marketed in Australia and whether the credibility of chemists is threatened by selling them.
Four Corners returns for 2017 with an incisive exploration of how US President Donald Trump will wield his power. Through interviews with key players in the Trump camp and the Republican Party, the program examines the political earthquake rippling across America. In his first assignment for Four Corners, reporter Michael Brissenden draws on his experience during his time as the ABC's Washington correspondent to explain just how revolutionary the presidency of Donald Trump is. He talks to those who know Trump well, asking how we should read the president's actions and explores what a Trump presidency means for key issues like climate change and foreign policy. Trump supporters are still savouring the President's victory while Trump's opponents vow to fight him every step of the way in Congress and in the courts.
For nearly 20 years, Liz Jackson reported from the frontlines of war and politics for Four Corners, winning nine Walkley awards for excellence in journalism, including the Gold Walkley in 2006 as well as three Logie Awards. But after she left the program in 2013, her health collapsed. She was losing her physical strength and her ability to write, and was suffering from crippling panic attacks. Liz was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Despite a barrage of medication, Liz continued to deteriorate. So with unflinching honesty, Liz Jackson has turned the camera on herself. She brings her fierce intellect and penetrating questioning to try and understand her illness - interrogating her doctors and comparing experiences with fellow patients. This moving film is a collaboration between Liz, her partner Martin Butler and his colleague Bentley Dean, both highly acclaimed film makers.
These are Australia's most vulnerable kids, betrayed and neglected, not only by their parents but by the system designed to protect them. They're known as "resi kids" after the group homes they live in, run by private operators and charities. Some were taken into care as babies, others after years of abuse. They're often difficult to manage but desperately in need of help. In this searing Four Corners investigation, we reveal that rather than protecting and nurturing these children, some private operators are treating them as badly as the families they escaped. It's prompted some in the child protection system to brand their treatment a national failure and call for the entire resi care system to be shut down.
The highway to northern Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous roads in the world, cutting through territory controlled by the Taliban and Islamic State. It's a risky place at the best of times, let alone if you're a western filmmaker travelling with a member of Afghanistan's most famous political family. Zubair Massoud, advisor to the Afghan National Security Council, is increasingly spoken of as a future leader of Afghanistan. That makes him a high-value Taliban target. Despite advice from his security team, he makes the perilous journey to Kunduz to see the deteriorating security situation for himself. He takes award-winning filmmaker Jamie Doran with him. This often heart stopping film follows their journey as they travel deeper and deeper into enemy territory, their security detail fighting its way through ambushes and firefights.
You'll find it in your supermarket fridge, on sushi trains, and in fish shops all over Australia. Salmon is Australia's favourite fresh seafood and we consume tens of thousands of tonnes of it a year. This fish is not caught in the wild, it's grown and farmed in the waters around Tasmania and is a booming industry. But there's a lot consumers don't know about the making of farmed salmon. Producing salmon is big business and the industry is reaping big profits with plans to turn it into a billion dollar industry within 15 years. Reputation is important and industry players promote their businesses as being open and transparent. But those assurances are being put to the test with controversial plans by the biggest salmon company, Tassal, to expand into a new area, causing strong divisions in the community. Those community divisions have brought attention and our unwelcome scrutiny.
In New York City, a controversial group of citizen activists patrol the streets, capturing police officers on camera as they work. They're part of a US-wide movement taking on police departments following a succession of deaths of black men and boys at the hands of police officers. In the age of smartphones and social media, many of these deaths have been captured on camera. One of the first was Eric Garner. The confronting footage of his death, as he was held down in a chokehold by a group of officers, captured the nation's attention. Garner's dying pleas of "I can't breathe" became the catchcry of protestors demanding justice. On Monday night Four Corners brings you the story of these "Copwatchers" as they roam the streets of New York, listening in to the police radio, then race to film the arrests and the behaviour of the NYPD. In this raw, fast moving film, the copwatchers engage in tense exchanges with the police.
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