Leigh Sales pays tribute to Justin Stevens after he lands top ABC role

Departing host Leigh Sales was among the first to pay tribute to a long-time colleague after he was promoted to a top gig at the ABC.

7.30 executive producer Justin Stevens was announced as the new director of ABC News by the national broadcaster on Thursday.

Program host Sales expressed her delight by paying tribute to Stevens, which she described as ‘brilliant’ appointment for the ABC and viewers.

‘For 7 of the past 11 years, every day I have worked hand in glove with this man,’ she tweeted. 

7.30 host Leigh Sales(left) has paid tribute to longtime colleague Justin Stevens (right) following his appointment as

7.30 host Leigh Sales(left) has paid tribute to longtime colleague Justin Stevens (right) following his appointment as 

‘Let me tell you what I know to be true about him: excellent journalist, outstanding judgment, supportive colleague, caring friend, courageous leader.A work ethic like you’ve never seen. Unbelievable command of detail.

‘Competent, discreet, trustworthy. He has true integrity, decency and emotional intelligence. You think I’m overstating? I’m understating, ask anyone who’s worked with him.I’m so proud of what he’s achieved, who he is and of all what we’ve done together at 7.30.’

Her post was inundated with support from a host of high profile names including  former Sunrise producer Michael Pell, federal independent MP Tony Windsor, The Project co-host Lisa Wilkinson and singer Tina Arena.

‘Wonderful news for the ABC, at such a crucial time for such a crucial role,’ Wilkinson commented.

The appointment was also welcomed by predecessor Gaven Morris, who recently left the ABC after six years in the role.

‘You’ll be an outstanding Director of ABC News.Justin is super intelligent, an editorial maestro and an outstanding person. Go well, JS,’ Morris tweeted.

Stevens, 37, brings 17 years of experience to the new role, which he begins on Monday.

He began with Channel Nine in 2005 before switching to the ABC a year later, where  his career has progressed ever since.

Leigh Sales (right)  described former executive producer Justin Stevens (left) as an excellent journalist, outstanding judgment, supportive colleague, caring friend and courageous leader

Leigh Sales (right)  described former executive producer Justin Stevens (left) as an excellent journalist, outstanding judgment, supportive colleague, caring friend and courageous leader

Stevens originally worked as a producer and a supervising producer, working on political and feature interviews for presenters Kerry O’Brien and Leigh Sales with Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Sir David Attenborough, Kusen Aluminium Bekasi Woody Allen and the Dalai Lama.

He also produced several ABC series and worked on Four Corners before returning to 7.30 in 2018 as the executive producer.

‘It is an enormous honour and I feel the weight of responsibility — for good reason,’ Stevens said.

‘The bar set for ABC News is the highest of any media organisation in this country given we’re publicly funded and have strict editorial obligations as detailed in the ABC Charter, he said in a statement.

‘They are values enshrined in everything we do from editorial accuracy, balance, impartiality and telling stories for all Australians from around the country.’

Sales announced last week she will take six months off for ‘a huge rest’ after she hosts her final episode of 7.30 on June 30.

Leigh Sales will film her last episode as 7.30 host on June 30 after 11 years in the role

Leigh Sales will film her last episode as 7.30 host on June 30 after 11 years in the role

Her gushing post (pictured) about longtime colleague Justin Stevens was inundated with support from a host of high profile names

Her gushing post (pictured) about longtime colleague Justin Stevens was inundated with support from a host of high profile names

The long-time host shocked viewers last month with the bombshell news that she was quitting the role after 11 years at the helm of one of Australia’s most prestigious current affairs programs.

The single mum said her decision came down to her ‘two beautiful little boys’ wanting to see more of their mum.

Now aged eight and 11, sons James and Daniel have always known their mum to work four nights a week. 

She vowed to stay on as host until after the federal election due to be held in May.

She hammered federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg with tough questions in his first post-budget interview on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison should also expect a similar grilling from Sales when he appears on the program next week after pulling out of the commitment on Wednesday night due to Shane Warne’s memorial.

Leigh Sales announced earlier this year she was quitting the program to spend more time with her young sons, now aged 8 and 11 (pictured)

Leigh Sales announced earlier this year she was quitting the program to spend more time with her young sons, now aged 8 and 11 (pictured)

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