Peter van Onselen leaves 0,000 question for Network Ten TV channel bosses to answer

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Network Ten are scrambling to replace star political editor Peter van Onselen after he suddenly quit last Friday – but the rumoured salary package on offer may turn off top TV talent from the job.

Award-winning reporter and editor Samantha Maiden is said to head the shortlist to replace him as Ten’s political face in Canberra although insiders speculated she may be too expensive for them. 

It’s understood the troubled broadcaster which has been smashed by plummeting ratings is offering around $150,000 a year for the high profile parliamentary reporter’s gig, although Ten deny this. 

Daily Mail Australia understands Dr van Onselen, 47, was on close to $300,000 a year as both Ten’s political editor and The Project’s political analyst before he walked away on Friday.

He is said to have lost his passion for the job and was tired of the regular commute to Canberra, combined with increasing family demands over the next few years.

‘For PVO, it’s become rinse and repeat and he’s just had enough of doing 90-second stories which often aren’t even a story,’ said one former colleague.

‘The place has become such a bin fire, he started becoming a bit embarrassed to have his brand attached to it. Ten doesn’t really take politics seriously any more.’

Peter van Onselen leaves 0,000 question for Network Ten TV channel bosses to answer

Network Ten are scrambling to replace political editor Peter van Onselen (pictured) after he suddenly quit on Friday – but the cut-price salary package may turn off anyone wanting the job

Dr van Onselen handed in his resignation at lunchtime on Friday and made his last appearance on the network before bosses deleted his work email address that night.

He quietly removed his affiliation to Ten from his Twitter bio after the federal election in May when he first considered quitting but vowed to stay on to the end of last year. 

He will now focus on his role as professor of politics and public policy at University of Western Australia and as a columnist for The Australian newspaper.

He plans to spend more time with his family in Sydney as his two teenage daughters study for their upcoming HSCs, while his busy wife Ainslie is CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia.

Network chiefs are now looking both internally and externally for Dr van Onselen’s replacement, with Ms Maiden said to be one of two frontrunners favoured from outside the existing newsroom.

Ms Maiden is a 20-year political reporter veteran and won a Walkley award for exposing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s family holiday in Hawaii during the 2019 bushfire crisis. 

Along with Lisa Wilkinson, she also played a key role in revealing the explosive rape allegations of former political staffer, Brittany Higgins.

Ten's Canberra reporter Stela Todorovic

Ten's Canberra reporter Chloe Bouras

Ten’s Canberra reporters Stela Todorovic and Chloe Bouras are also said to be in the running for a step up into the lead political role

Ten’s Sydney reporter Ursula Heger, a former press gallery reporter, is said to have been offered the job but is understood to be unwilling to return to Canberra. 

Former Fairfax reporter Mark Kenny, now a professor at the Australian National University and TV political pundit, is also said to be on Ten’s most wanted list.

But insiders speculate the cash on offer is unlikely to lure either. 

Dr van Onselen’s departure and an exodus of other staff at Ten has even paved the way for a potential return of press gallery reporter Tegan George.

She has been locked in a long-running legal battle with Ten for more than a year over bullying allegations and alleged sexual discrimination at Ten’s Canberra bureau.

But the departure of Dr van Onselen, former executive editor Anthony Murdoch and others, means most of those named in the lawsuit have now left the company.

Ms George is still employed by Ten but has been on sick leave for more than 18 months as she deals with mental health issues in the wake of the row.

Ten, Ms George and her lawyers declined to comment on the speculation.

Peter van Onselen's departure and an exodus of other staff at Ten has even paved the way for a potential return of press gallery reporter Tegan George

Peter van Onselen’s departure and an exodus of other staff at Ten has even paved the way for a potential return of press gallery reporter Tegan George

Current Canberra reporters Stela Todorovic and Chloe Bouras are also said to be considered to step up into the lead political role.

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An insider said: ‘My gut feeling is they will try and go for someone internal, downgrading the role and saving money, which I can understand. 

‘There isn’t really any editor role in the top political reporter any more. The news is pre-recorded and the Project no longer uses political commentators on its panels. 

‘We might as well save the cash!’

A Ten spokesman denied the speculation about the possible candidates and salary package, but confirmed Dr van Onselen’s exit and the search for his replacement .

‘Peter van Onselen has decided to step aside from his position as Political Editor with Network 10,’ said a spokesman.

‘PVO, as he is widely known, has been a valued member of the news leadership team at Network 10 since he joined as political editor in December 2018, as well as a familiar face on the desk with The Project.

‘Peter has a wealth of experience in the media, politics and academia and we thank him for his contribution to this network’s news and current affairs success including spearheading our coverage across two election campaigns, leading the Canberra bureau political coverage and breaking major stories.

‘Network 10 wishes Peter all the best for the future and with his return to academia.’

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