Network Ten is pushing hard to replace star political editor Peter van Onselen after he suddenly quit last Friday – but the rumored salary package being offered could keep top TV talent off the job.
Award-winning reporter and editor Samantha Maiden was said to be top of the shortlist to replace him as Ten’s political face in Canberra, although insiders speculated she might be too expensive for them.
It is clear that the troubled broadcaster crushed by plummeting ratings is offering about $150,000 a year for the high-profile parliamentary reporter’s gig, though Ten denies this.
Daily Mail Australia understands that Dr van Onselen, 47, was making nearly $300,000 a year as Ten’s political editor and The Project’s political analyst before walking away on Friday.
He is said to have lost his passion for the job and was tired of the regular commute to Canberra, coupled with the increasing demands of the family over the next few years.
“For PVO, it’s become rinse and repeat and he’s just had enough of 90-second stories that often aren’t even a story,” said a former colleague.
“The place has become such a garbage can, he was starting to feel a little embarrassed that his brand was attached to it. Ten doesn’t really take politics seriously anymore.’
Network Ten is pushing hard to replace political editor Peter van Onselen (pictured) after he suddenly quit on Friday – but the reduced salary package could put off anyone wanting the job
It is clear that the troubled broadcaster, which has been crushed by plummeting ratings, is offering about $150,000 a year for the high-profile parliamentary reporter’s appearance.
Dr. van Onselen tendered his resignation over lunch on Friday and made his last appearance on the network before bosses removed his work email address that evening.
He quietly removed his affiliation with Ten from his Twitter bio after the federal election in May, when he first considered quitting but vowed to stay until the end of last year.
He will now focus on his role as a professor of politics and public policy at the University of Western Australia and as a columnist for the Australian newspaper.
He plans to spend more time with his family in Sydney while his two teenage daughters study for their upcoming HSCs, while his busy wife Ainslie is CEO of Chartered Accountants Australia.
Network executives are now looking both internally and externally to replace Dr van Onselen, with Ms Maiden reportedly one of two frontrunners favored from outside the existing newsroom.
Ms Maiden is a 20-year veteran of political reporting and won a Walkley award for exposing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s family vacation in Hawaii during the 2019 wildfire crisis.
Along with Lisa Wilkinson, she also played a key role in exposing the explosive rape allegations of former political staffer, Brittany Higgins.
Award-winning reporter Samantha Maiden (left) would top the shortlist to replace him as Ten’s political hacker in Canberra, although she may be too expensive for them. Former Fairfax reporter Mark Kenny (right), now an Australian National University professor and political TV pundit, is also said to be on Ten’s most wanted list
Ten’s Canberra reporters Stela Todorovic and Chloe Bouras are also said to be in the running for a step up in the leading political role
Ten’s Sydney reporter Ursula Heger, a former press gallery reporter, was said to have been offered the job but would not be willing to return to Canberra.
Former Fairfax reporter Mark Kenny, now an Australian National University professor and TV political pundit, was also said to be on the ten most wanted list.
But insiders speculate that the money on offer won’t lure either.
The departure of Dr Van Onselen and an exodus of other staff from Ten has even set the stage for a possible return of press gallery reporter Tegan George.
She has been embroiled in a long-running legal battle with Ten over allegations of bullying and alleged sexual discrimination at Ten’s Canberra office for over a year.
But the departure of Dr. van Onselen, former editor-in-chief Anthony Murdoch and others means most of those named in the lawsuit have now left the company.
Mrs George is still employed by Ten but has been on sick leave for over 18 months as she deals with mental health issues in the aftermath of the argument.
Ten, Ms George and her lawyers declined to comment on the speculation.
The departure of Peter van Onselen and an exodus of other staff at Ten has even set the stage for a possible return of press gallery reporter Tegan George
Current Canberra reporters Stela Todorovic and Chloe Bouras would also be considered to take the leading political role.
An insider said: ‘My gut says they will try to go internal for someone, cutting the position and saving money, which I can understand.
‘There is no longer really an editor’s role in the top political reporter. The news is pre-recorded and the Project no longer uses political commentators on its panels.
“We might as well save money!”
A spokesman for Ten denied the speculation about the possible candidates and the salary package, but confirmed the departure of Dr Van Onselen and the search for his replacement.
‘Peter van Onselen has decided to resign from his position as political editor at Netwerk 10,’ said a spokesman.
PVO, as he is commonly known, has been a valued member of the news leadership team at Network 10 since joining as political editor in December 2018, as well as a familiar face on the desk at The Project.
“Peter has a wealth of experience in the media, politics and academia and we thank him for contributing to the success of this news and current affairs network, including leading our coverage of two election campaigns, leading of the political coverage of the Canberra bureau and writing important stories.
‘Network 10 wishes Peter all the best for the future and with his return to science.’