Across Australia, governments, councils and the building industry are grappling with a problem so large, it almost defies belief. Residential buildings, hospitals, shopping centres and commercial buildings, have been built with flammable aluminium cladding, posing a potentially serious fire risk. It took the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in London, which claimed at least 80 lives, to set off alarm bells here, but as Four Corners will reveal, the danger posed by this cladding should not have come as a surprise. On Monday, Four Corners investigates why huge amounts of this aluminium cladding has been installed on so many of our buildings, and whether a desire to cut costs won out over caution. Insiders say there has been a colossal failure of regulation and oversight. With access to the tests now under way on suspect aluminium cladding, we reveal the enormity of the problem facing authorities and ask who will pay to remove and replace it.
Giving blood is a simple and selfless act that saves lives. For many, it's a way of giving back to the community, expecting nothing in return. In Australia, blood donors receive a drink, a biscuit and heartfelt thanks. Overseas, it's a different story. In other countries, blood has become a lucrative commodity fuelling a global trade worth billions of dollars. Plasma, the vital blood component used by pharmaceutical companies to create expensive therapeutic drugs, is like liquid gold. Plasma donation centres operate across America, where they pay, or "compensate" those who provide their blood. Many of these centres operate in the poorest neighbourhoods, where would-be "donors" queue to provide their blood and receive their payment. For some, their blood has become a vital source of income. This joint Swiss/French film investigates the impact of the plasma trade and the toll it's taking on those giving up their blood for money.
The statistics are startling. Australians are carrying more personal debt than ever before. For every one dollar earned, on average, Australians have nearly two dollars of debt. We hold the dubious position of having the second highest level of household debt in the world. Much of this stems from our obsession with buying real estate. On Monday, Four Corners investigates the forces driving our debt fuelled housing boom and the risks it poses for the nation. The program draws together key experts to map the danger zones in the housing market and will reveal the Australian suburbs currently experiencing the highest levels of mortgage stress. Experts are warning that a wave of home owners and property investors will be unable to cope if there's an increase in interest rates or a change in their personal circumstances. Regulators have been tightening the screws on lending requirements but there are concerns it's too little too late. The program investigates the lending practices that have driven the boom in residential lending, and asks, 10 years on from the global financial crisis, if the banks are prepared for a potential crash landing.
For the last two months, The Greens have been a party in disarray. They've lost not one but two deputy leaders over dual citizenship laws. Opinion polls indicate their popularity is falling, particularly with their key demographic - younger voters, and a bruising internal fight over policy negotiations has ripped open the seams of the party. As the turmoil has unfolded, Four Corners has been there to capture the drama behind the scenes. We reveal the tensions within, as the party, born out of radical activism, tries to operate on the federal political stage. Key players in the party and its support base unload, venting their fury over the way politics is being played on the inside. As the party faces its biggest challenges since its foundation, Four Corners investigates if the party's actions live up to their spin.
On Monday night Four Corners investigates the big business of rubbish and where it ends up. Taking out the bins is a weekly ritual but establishing what happens next is far from transparent. In interviews with insiders, reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna exposes the hidden practices occurring in several areas of the waste industry. The program reveals how the lucrative trade in our rubbish has attracted unscrupulous operators who are gaming the system and making a fortune in the process. Four Corners' cameras have captured eye-opening footage of the flourishing trade in our rubbish. Senior members of the industry say they're taking a big risk by speaking out but believe the need for reform is too great to remain silent.
The digital age has revolutionised the way we live our lives, giving us the tools to connect with people and share information in ways that would have previously been impossible. But this same technology has also given governments the ability to spy on their citizens on an astonishing scale. Cyber surveillance technology enables governments to collect, catalogue and analyse the communications of millions of people. This BBC investigation reveals a shadowy international trade in this cyber weaponry. From international arms fairs to highly classified manufacturing facilities, the program tracks how major weapons makers have branched out from producing conventional arms to cyber espionage tools, landing lucrative deals worth hundred of millions of dollars. Many of these deals are with countries run by repressive regimes. In interviews with workers hired to carry out mass scale cyber espionage, the film shows how these tools are being used to shut down dissent. Those targeted by highly invasive cyber surveillance say their lives have been shattered.
In Australia's most important river system, the water is so precious, it could be liquid gold. Stretching from Queensland to South Australia, billions of dollars in tax payers' money has been poured into rescuing the rivers and streams of the Murray-Darling Basin to save it from environmental collapse. But nearly five years on from a landmark agreement to restore the river, something is wrong. Along the river system many are saying despite all the promises, water is disappearing from the river. On Monday night Four Corners will reveal how the plan to rescue the Murray-Darling Basin river system is being undermined. Reporter Linton Besser investigates where the money, and the water is going. He finds communities divided. With many wondering how they will survive. And questions whether the billions in tax payers' money has been well spent.
In the American city of Philadelphia, in the early 2000s, a team of skilled and dedicated lawyers embarked on an investigation led by a formidable district attorney. What they uncovered was the hidden story of one of the worst criminal cover-ups in America's history. The investigation began with a simple question: Why, in 50 years, had only one Catholic priest been officially investigated for child abuse? In a city with a strong Catholic presence, this seemed remarkable, at a time when revelations of clergy abuse were making headlines across America. Shocking cases in another US city, Boston, prompted DA Lynne Abraham to ask whether the same thing could have occurred in her town. What they uncovered - a hidden history of abuse and deception - shook the investigators and their community to the core. Equally shocking were the lengths the Catholic Church hierarchy went to, to keep their secrets hidden. Their major breakthrough came when they found one senior church elder who was prepared to break the informal code of silence, and tell the truth. For the first time, in this program by filmmaker Annie MacGregor, the then district attorney and her team of prosecutors, investigators and expert advisors, come together to give a step by step account of how they took on the powerful Catholic church establishment in Philadelphia to expose its dark secrets. The fallout from this landmark inquiry continues, with one leading Church official still before the courts in the US.
On Monday night, Four Corners brings you a story of identity, love and dignity. In this touching and brave program, three families have opened their lives to Four Corners to tell their stories. Dementia is the second biggest cause of death in Australia. More than 400,000 Australians living with the disease and the figures are rising. A diagnosis is devastating. But for these families, it is being faced clear-eyed, with a determination to enjoy life to the full. We follow their intensely personal stories as they share their hopes, fears and plans for the future. For a disease that will touch so many Australians, there is often little understanding of the condition. There are more than 100 types of dementia, inheriting the disease is relatively rare, and in some cases, it can begin to take effect when a person is in the prime of their life. In interviews with leading doctors in the field, the program explores the research into the steps that can be taken that may help stave off or slow the progression of the disease. Shining through this inspiring program is the love and dedication of the families and friends determined to cherish every minute they have with left.
It was one of the more bizarre moments of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. At a press conference at Trump Tower in New York to declare his loyalty to the Republican Party, Donald Trump was flanked by guests from Indonesia, and made a big show of announcing one very special guest. It was unclear why the Indonesians were there, or why Trump was making such a fuss of them. Now a Four Corners investigation will reveal how Trump, as he was closing in on his political rivals, was negotiating luxury resort deals in Bali and Java, raising serious questions about presidential conflicts of interest. In Bali, plans are under way to Trumpify one of the most iconic and sacred sites in Bali - Tanah Lot. But curiously, for a tourist destination usually keen to talk up what the island paradise has to offer, government officials are not keen to talk about the proposed Trump Tower development. In a second development on Java, the deal to build a massive gaudy theme park and resort development has been inked, leaving local farmers frightened of what the future holds. Four Corners investigates how these deals were done through an unholy alliance formed between Trump and controversial business and political figures in Indonesia. Trump's business partners have a troubling history with ties to the corrupt Suharto regime. While at home in the US, Trump rails against Islamic extremism. In Indonesia, he has formed political alliances with politicians aligned with Islamist forces.
The glossy brochures and slick advertising sell the promise of a blissful retirement in "enclaves of contentedness" where "lifestyle meets wellbeing". But residents of the retirement homes run by one of Australia's biggest providers have a very different story to tell. These retirement villages are marketed as a way for older Australians to keep their independence without the burden of maintaining a property. They can relax, secure in the knowledge that they have someone to call on if they need help. What many residents don't realise, until it's too late, is the astronomical amount they will have to pay for the privilege. On Monday night, in a joint Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation, reporter Adele Ferguson examines the ruthless tactics that residents say put profits before people. Residents say they've been patronised, marginalised and ripped off. Now they want to warn others. The findings of this joint investigation will be revealed in a series of online articles published by ABC News Online and Fairfax culminating in the Four Corners broadcast on Monday night.
Australia's premier television current affairs program, hosted by Sarah Ferguson. We have been part of the national story since 1961, exposing scandals, triggering inquiries, firing debate and confronting taboos.
The digital revolution has transformed our world. Never in human history have we been more connected to each other in ways that would have seemed unimaginable only a decade ago. But with the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and a smartphone in virtually every pocket, the internet bullies known as trolls are only ever a click, tap or swipe away. Instead of bringing people together, trolls use the internet to target those they disagree with by provoking, harassing and threatening them. On Monday night Four Corners takes you into the dark side of the internet to explore the rise of cyber trolls. Many trolls go to great lengths to try and hide their identity and as the program explores, psychiatrists believe this is helping to propel the appalling behaviour. One self-proclaimed hardcore troll outlines the trolling landscape and boasts about his extensive conquests, all while hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. And some of the trolls are not who you'd expect. We meet Britain's most notorious troll, jailed for sending threatening tweets, and a campaigner in Canada as he goes on trial after a confrontation on Twitter. The prosecution of trolls raises uncomfortable questions about how far our commitment to freedom of expression goes. Activists are warning of an Orwellian future of thought police.
It was Queensland, the year was 1987, and the state's police force was riddled with corruption. The brotherhood of crooked cops who gave the green light to illegal gambling and prostitution believed they were untouchable. There was a conspiracy of silence, from within the Queensland government and all the way up to the highest levels of the force. The nature and the extent of the corruption sickened the honest cops, who operated in a world where they could trust no-one. A small band of brave crime fighters, and their families, took the enormous risk to trust a journalist with the state's darkest secrets. The result was 'The Moonlight State', perhaps the most explosive true story ever told on Australian television. Chris Masters' landmark report prompted one of the most important anti-corruption investigations in Australian history, the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which led to the jailing of the Queensland police commissioner.
It's a tale of secrets, power and intimidation. China is our most important trading partner, making a strong relationship vital to Australia's national interest. But there are growing concerns about covert Chinese actions taking place on Australian soil. Five months in the making, this joint Four Corners-Fairfax Media investigation uncovers how China's Communist Party is secretly infiltrating Australia. The investigation tracks the activities of Beijing-backed organisations and the efforts made to intimidate opponents of the Chinese Communist Party. And investigates the influence of individuals who have access to political and business leaders. The findings will be released in a series of stories through Fairfax Media and ABC platforms, reported by Fairfax's Nick McKenzie and the ABC's Chris Uhlmann, culminating in the Four Corners broadcast on Monday night, detailing the full revelations.
In the second part of this special investigation into the Lindt Cafe siege, Four Corners goes inside the police operation as it dragged on into the night, and presents a forensic examination of how the disaster unfolded. The families of hostages Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson tell of their experiences during the siege as they watched and waited nearby. They recount their fleeting communications with their loved ones through heartbreaking phone calls and text messages from inside the cafe. In interviews with the surviving hostages, reporter Sarah Ferguson examines the opportunities missed in the course of the siege. And as the Coroner makes his findings, the families left behind reflect on the gruelling 18 months of hearings and the evidence presented during the inquest. In a Four Corners exclusive, the families of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson will talk to Sarah Ferguson in the days following the inquest findings.
In the first episode in a two-part special investigation into the Lindt Cafe siege, Sarah Ferguson talks exclusively with the families of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson about their experience on the day and their devastation, anger and frustration in the aftermath of the siege. Surviving hostages recount their terrifying ordeal as they waited, hour after hour, for the police to arrive. The program examines how authorities over several years failed to comprehend the risk posed by hostage taker Man Haron Monis. This special investigation exposes what went wrong and questions whether Australia is prepared for another terror attack.
It was one of the biggest illegal firearms busts in Australian history. A criminal syndicate brazenly smuggling weapons into the country, exposing the failings in the nation's border security. The audacious but simple smuggling conspiracy caught law enforcement off guard and forced a major rethink in how to counteract illegal gun importations. While the smugglers were stopped, the majority of the weapons they brought in have never been recovered, leaving them in the hands of criminals or even would-be terrorists. Through surveillance videos, phone intercepts and interviews with the investigating officers, Four Corners pieces together the smuggling operation and the police sting that eventually stopped them. With the jailing of the group's ringleader, the story of how this group smuggled weapons into the country, fuelling drive by shootings and gang violence, can now be told.
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