Long-time Canberra political correspondent Catherine McGrath to leave SBS to focus on media and events business
CANBERRA TIMES ARTICLE – 4 AUGUST 2016
Trailblazer Catherine McGrath has resigned from SBS-TV as its chief political correspondent and Canberra bureau chief.
However, she will be staying in Canberra to focus on a business career as a media trainer and strategic event consultant.
Next week will see her conclude her on-air role after reporting federal politics for 20 years in the press gallery for SBS and ABC-TV but she will be working behind the scenes at SBS until the end of September. She will be replaced by Daniela Ritorto.
“It’s been wonderful and I’ve enjoyed every minute,” she said of her long media career.
McGrath is remarkable, not only for the longevity of her career in such a highly competitive environment, she also helped raised three children with her husband, The Canberra Times columnist, Nicholas Stuart, and was the main breadwinner for the family after Stuart suffered a brain injury in a car accident in 1990 in Bangkok where he was the ABC’s Indochina correspondent.
Stuart has worked hard to rebuild his life and had McGrath’s support at every step.
“We’re very much a team,” she said. “And all the challenges we’ve had have made our life richer.”
McGrath, 55, originally from Sydney, started her career in commercial radio and went on to work for 26 years with the ABC, including with the AM and PM radio programs, and then almost two years with SBS.
She is likely the woman with the longest on-air stint reporting politics in Australia. And she was the first ABC woman reporter with a child to be appointed a foreign correspondent when she was posted to Singapore in 1995.
She credits that time as shaping her a journalist who wanted to go deep into a story, but who also wanted to keep it real, to acknowledge that people have complex lives, including juggling families with career. When she arrived in the press gallery in 1997, she looked for female reporters in the same situation as her but found none.
“I tell my kids I haven’t been home for dinner for 20 years. It’s not strictly true but almost,” she said.
McGrath said she and Stuart were now rusted-on Canberrans and felt their children – Anna, 22, Genie, 17, and Max, 16 – had enjoyed a golden upbringing in Canberra.
Now they were embarking on a new chapter to enjoy more time together as a family and to set fresh challenges.
“I am hoping to link federal politics, ACT politics and business together with our beautiful local community and the wider Australian public,” she said of her business.
“And one thing I really want to do is to help empower women in our local community.”