TV presenter Hamish MacDonald has quit ABC and is returning to Channel 10 where he will host The Sunday Project.

The announcement brings to and end MacDonald’s 18-month stint as the host of ABC’s once wildly successful Q+A, after the national broadcaster’s coup d’état, luring MacDonald from its commercial competitors in late 2019.

MacDonald, is one of the few out working Australian journalists and TV personalities. MacDonald came out in 2019 at the GQ Gentlemen’s Ball in Melbourne, where he arrived hand in hand with his partner Jacob Fitzroy. Time and again MacDonald has been a staunch support of his rainbow community.

‘Over The Moon’

MacDonald, via a statement released by Channel 10,  said that he was “over the moon to be returning to 10 and thrilled about the opportunity to make great local and international content with this dynamic group of producers and presenters… It is also a total joy to be heading back to the desk with Lisa, Tommy and the people I love so much.”

“Finding innovative ways to tell stories from Australia and around the world is what I love doing and I can’t wait to get stuck into it,” the statement added.

MacDonald, who was bought in to replace the formidable veteran reporter Tony Jones as host of Q+A, will be remembered for hosting the program in the most difficult and challenging of times. Often throughout his 18 months on the program, and due to lockdowns, MacDonald was replaced by the likes of David Speers, Stan Grant, Virginia Trioli and other guest hosts.

“I am enormously grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to host Q&A and to work alongside wonderful, talented and passionate people,” said MacDonald in the statement.

“I am really proud of what we’ve achieved together during these extraordinary times. I’d also like to thank the incredible Q+A audience for all they contribute to this program each week. It is, after all, their show. Their questions and stories from all corners of Australia are inspiring, revealing and clever – and it has been a privilege to receive and read them.”

Rough Q+A

Jacob Fitzroy and Hamish MacDonald

One thing that has not helped the situation was the ABC choosing to move Q+A from its Monday night time slot for the first time since the program premiered in 2008, to Thursday nights, with as few as 224,000 viewers now tuning in.

The ABC congratulated MacDonald for having “steered Q&A through challenging times during the initial coronavirus lockdown as well as guiding the program through the first time slot change in its 13-year history”.

“Everyone at the ABC thanks Hamish for the incredible job he has done,” said ABC News director Gaven Morris. “At one stage during the lockdown he was presenting a live panel discussion program that wasn’t allowed to have either an audience or panellists in the studio. His experience and versatility came to the fore.”

Yet MacDonald’s time on the Q+A was often marred by public backlash, which as he told Stellar Magazine in January, was enough to see him delete his social media accounts.

“If you’re someone who sits in the middle of those exchanges in your day job, you end up copping it from every direction. I’ve never had more abuse for the interviews I’ve conducted than I had last year,” MacDonald said.

“And the abuse has come from left-wing people who don’t like you asking difficult questions of Dan Andrews, and it’s come from people on the right who don’t like you asking difficult questions of the federal government. I’ve definitely learnt you can’t please everyone.”

MacDonald has over recent years been a fixture of Australian media. Prior to his time with the ABC, he worked with Channel 10, as a reporter for 6.30 with George Negus, The Project and as host of Ten Late News. Since his career began on the Win regional network in 2003, he has also worked with international new services.

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