Elliot Hannay is an author and veteran journalist. His latest work, Conversations with Katter … Politics, Life and What Matters, was released this month by New Holland Publishers and has attracted national media interest.
His journalistic career started in 1958 at the age of sixteen and he worked in newspapers, ABC radio and television, media consultancy and the public service, for almost sixty years.
In 1980, soon after being appointed Editor of the Townsville Daily Bulletin, he was selected by The Australia China Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs as one of six Australian journalists to tour the People’s Republic of China. It was China’s first exchange of journalists with a western nation.
Elliot and his colleagues were introduced at official welcomes and banquets as “the six most excellent journalists in Australia.” He says it would have been insensitive and undiplomatic to try to correct this unfortunate misrepresentation.
His most uplifting experience as a newspaper editor was when Eddie Kornhauser served him with a writ for three million dollars in damages… in those days that was an awful lot of money. Eddie obviously didn’t like what had been written about him and his underworld mate from King’s Cross, Abe Saffron.
He hesitated to list “foreign correspondent” on his CV, but decided it would be okay because he has filed copy from foreign places such as the Arctic Circle in Norway, the West Indies, Beijing, Tahiti, Singapore and the Tibet-China border, and was paid a pittance for it by various publications and news agencies, including AAP.
His greatest challenge as a newspaper editor was keeping young reporters like Chris Mitchell from using too many adjectives in their copy. The fact that Chris went on to become the Editor-in-Chief of The Australian is probably coincidental.
He worked on committees with Indigenous leaders, Eddie Mabo, Charles Perkins and Chicka Dixon and was probably the only editor in Australia to receive a delegation from a local branch of the Ku Klux Klan complaining about his editorials that promoted the interests of Indigenous people. Elliot also broke the first national story about Queensland’s infamous Indigenous Stolen Wages almost forty years ago and is still supporting moves for redress from the State Government.
Elliot is married to Barbara, one of Australia’s leading authors of women’s fiction. More than twelve million of her books have been published world-wide. The Hannays have four children, seven grand-kids scattered across the state and two little heritage pigs on a rainforest block in Far North Queensland.