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Outgoing ABC host reveals her true thoughts on Australian PMs

Outgoing ABC host Leigh Sales has revealed she holds an “odd fondness” for all of the prime ministers she has interviewed during a 12-year career at the helm of 7.30.

Set to host 7.30 for the final time on June 30, Sales admitted being in awe of the leaders she has grilled over her tenure and revealed her true thoughts on each of the prime ministers she has interviewed in a written piece for Nine newspapers.

“There’s something about everyone who’s done that job that kind of stabs me in the heart,” Sales wrote.

Outgoing ABC host reveals her true thoughts on Australian PMs
Camera IconSales has revealed her true thoughts on a host of former PMs. NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi Credit: News Corp Australia

“It is such a hard job. I don’t think people understand how tough it is if they’re not in proximity. I have a lot of respect for anyone who steps up to do it.

“All five of the PMs during my tenure at 7.30 – six now with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – regularly came in for interviews and I respect them for it.”

Sales said Kevin Rudd struck her as “stunningly smart” and revealed she occasionally rang the former Labor PM for insight on foreign policy.

“I always hang up the phone and go, “Wow, he connected those dots brilliantly.” His latest book on China is outstanding,” Sales said.

The television host respected Tony Abbott’s fervour in fiery debates, also acknowledging his friendliness towards her crew.

“You can have a challenging, robust conversation with Tony and he argues his corner well and he is never thin-skinned about it,” Sales said.

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Camera IconSales was always impressed by Tony Abbott’s manners. Josh Woning. Credit: News Corp Australia

“He always greeted and thanked the studio crew – some guests never even acknowledge them.”

Sales describes Julia Gillard as a “lovely, warm person” and says Malcolm Turnbull is a “larger than life figure”.

Turnbull’s successor, Scott Morrison, was interviewed by Sales more than any politician in federal parliament, she revealed, dispelling the myth he was reluctant to turn up at the program.

She said she was looking forward to catching up with Mr Morrison “when the dust settles”.

Sales remembers Bob Hawke as a “legend” and says talking to Paul Keating was “one of the great privileges” of her life.

She revealed she also called John Howard regularly to discuss issues from a Liberal perspective, writing he remains “as sharp as ever”.

Sales is fond of both Howard and Keating, despite Australians generally liking one and despising the other.

“It’s not your job as a journalist to agree or disagree with them,” she said. “That’s for the audience.

“It’s your job to report people’s positions fairly and accurately.”

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