Wisdom and experience take journalist Liz Hayes to new investigative role

Liz Hayes
Liz Hayes

Liz Hayes, stalwart of 60 Minutes, likes to stay open to new ideas and the proof is in the proverbial pudding.

The veteran journalist, turning 65, has helped conceive a serious new TV program, Under Investigation with Liz Hayes.

Welcomed with open arms by Channel 9 and to be launched after the Australian Tennis Open, the pilot series will spotlight crime and mystery.

“But that’s not what it’s all it’s about,” Liz told Have a Go News from her Sydney office. “The format allows us to tackle any subject from major breaking news and natural disasters to world events.”

Together with her long-time 60 Minutes producer, Gareth Harvey, Liz has been relentlessly defining and producing the project, leading a team of four including senior producers.

The network said: “Experts will interact, pulling apart a mystery and revealing details only true experts can uncover.” 

The TV audience will be “taken behind closed doors, to places they never usually go, witnessing how detectives talk when they’re not being watched.” 

Upcoming subjects are how a forensic fire expert uncovers a murder in the remains of a bush campfire and how international scientists tracked Vladimir Putin’s chemical assassins. They will include Australia’s most intriguing recent mysteries and cases which have fascinated the nation in recent years.

Sitting around a ‘war table’, handmade from 100-year-old hangar beams, will be a panel of experts including ex-NSW homicide detective Gary Jubelin, re-examining the disappearance and murder of Janine Vaughan in Bathurst.

Under Investigation with Liz Hayes
Under Investigation © Yianni Aspradakis

In another segment, the family of murdered Cairns woman Toyah Cordingley open-up to Liz and her team.

Liz and forensic specialists discover new clues in Victoria’s high country mystery, the disappearance of elderly lovers Russell Hill and Carol Clay from a remote alpine campsite.

Said to open a whole new genre of television, the project spear-headed by Liz comes after a long media career for the dedicated journalist who says she tries not to worry about ratings.

“Content is still king. A good story is good for everybody, in whatever age group. And it can’t be boring.”

Age should not be a barrier.

Thrice-married, most notably to advertising guru, John Singleton in 1991–92, Liz lives in Sydney’s northern beaches with her partner of 20 years on a peninsula with familiar landmarks to Home & Away viewers.

Other leading media figures to call the peninsula home included the late Kerry Packer and Seven’s David Koch, as well as endless holidaying world celebrities, relishing its surf beaches.

Aside from her work commitments, Liz says she loves to read and take long walks, visiting local cafes and restaurants and catching up with friends.

With a criminal lawyer for a brother, Liz has an intense interest in legal matters, current affairs and the ways of the world.

Her 25 years as a senior correspondent with 60 Minutes has required her to circle the globe countless times. Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and the Arctic Circle are sites of some of her more challenging assignments.

US presidential elections, the human horror of the Syrian refugee crisis, the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, America’s nuclear dispute with North Korea and the aviation crisis involving Boeing’s disastrous aircraft, the 737 Max, are listed in the Hayes CV.

Liz has interviewed George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Roger Federer, world surfing champion Tom Carroll, Olivia Newton-John, Billy Joel and Paul McCartney.

Liz produced and presented the award-winning documentary, The Greatest Gift, the story of heart transplant patients.

She was praised for producing and presenting the two-and-a-half hour television special on Sydney’s Lindt Café siege when eight hostages spoke exclusively of their terror the day they were held for 17 hours by a lone gunman.

For 10 years during its halcyon times Liz co-hosted Nine’s national breakfast program, Today, and she hosted the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

With 40 years working as a reporter and presenter for Nine Entertainment, Liz says she loves the challenges despite her astronomical workload. 

“Age should not be a barrier. I joyfully acknowledge at my age what’s happening. I’m probably busier than when I started as a cadet at age 17 and I’m more productive.

“I’d like to think a bit of wisdom and experience is very valuable and worthwhile, particularly in television.

“I see it as acknowledgment that I’m still considered as valuable. When you are hitting my age, you have a lot more to give.

“It ain’t over,” laughed Liz.

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Journalist, commentator, broadcaster and author. Lee, columnist for Have a Go News has reported for The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The West Australian, Sunday Times, Albany Advertiser, Melbourne Herald, Launceston Examiner, Business News and national magazines. Lee has covered federal politics, industrial relations and national affairs. A public speaker, newspaper columnist and author of two books, Lee co-hosted 6PR’s current affairs radio. He also co-founded a stable of national business newsletters. Lee is former communications manager for a non-profit, mental health carers’ organisation.