An ABC reporter who terrified viewers after appearing to break down live on air while discussing 600 job cuts at Australia’s biggest meatworks has explained he lost his train of thought due to dehydration.
Michael Rennie was reporting from Ipswich, Queensland, on Thursday morning when his live cross was interrupted, with the journalist struggling to speak and dropping his head in his hands.
The broadcast was forced to return to ABC host Joe O’Brien in the newsroom. ‘OK. We’ll leave it there for the moment,’ O’Brien said.
‘We’ll just make sure Michael is OK there. Um, so we’ll get the cameraman to check on Michael and we’ll get our bosses there right away to make sure he’s OK.’
Rennie returned to TV screens on Friday morning – after taking the rest of Thursday off to recover – to report on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to deny a woman the chance to attend her father’s funeral in Brisbane.
Michael Rennie returned to TV screens on Friday morning (pictured) to report on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision to deny a woman the chance to attend her father’s funeral
The ABC reporter said he was dehydrated following a confronting live cross on Thursday
Lisa Millar, from ABC’s News Breakfast, said: ‘It is terrific to hear from you.
‘You gave us a bit of a scare yesterday but are you doing OK?’
Rennie said he is ‘doing much better now’.
‘Drinking lots of water this morning and making sure I am staying hydrated,’ he said.
‘Got a little bit lost during a live cross but all good today.’
Millar replied: ‘It’s great to have you back on the program’.
Rennie was reporting live from JBS Dinmore in Ipswich, Queensland, on Thursday morning when the incident occurred (pictured)
The job cuts at JBS Dinmore, which is the largest meat factor in the southern hemisphere, comes after the company failed to convince Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to make a JobKeeper exemption.
Moments before the vision returned to the newsroom on Thursday, a sombre Rennie angled his head down and covered his face with his hand.
The confronting moment quickly circulated on Twitter, with ABC viewers posting comments of support to Rennie.
‘Hope you are OK there Michael! Love your work,’ one person wrote.
‘Take care of yourself Michael. You’re doing a tough job. I admire you,’ another said.
Viewers also debated whether the TV reporter suffered a medical episode or if the news story had made him emotional.
‘He started talking a bit strangely, like he’d lost his place, then when they crossed back to check he didn’t seem able to talk,’ one person said.
‘I think he might have become emotional, which is totally understandable, but I hope it wasn’t a medical issue.’
ABC host Joe O’Brien (pictured) looked concerned and said: ‘OK. We’ll leave it there for the moment. Michael Rennie reporting there from Ipswich’
Moments before the vision returned to the newsroom, a sombre Rennie (pictured) angled his head down and covered his face with his hand
Another said: ‘QLD reporter on TV just now – is he having a heart attack on live TV? Better check on him immediately.’
A third added: ‘What was up with that ABC News reporter? Was he crying?’
O’Brien referenced the ‘really concerning’ incident moments later to reassure viewers.
‘Now, just before we move on, that was really concerning seeing our reporter Michael Rennie there having some issues when he was doing that report,’ he said.
‘I want to assure our viewers that we’re chasing that up right away and getting on top of that and making sure that Michael gets the support he needs at this moment.’
Rennie was live in Ipswich as 600 jobs are cut from the largest beef processing plant in Australia (pictured, a tweet sent before the on-air incident)
In a later update, O’Brien confirmed his colleague was ‘OK’ following a catch-up catch.
‘Now, I just want to assure our viewers that our reporter Michael Rennie is OK.
‘We were having a chat to him in the last five or ten minutes or so and he wasn’t able to continue. Yeah, we were a bit concerned about him, but he is OK.’
Rennie addressed the confronting vision just before 11am on Thursday and thanked viewers for their support.
‘Thanks for all the concern about what happened on ABC news channel this morning,’ he said on Twitter.
Rennie explained he was dehydrated and lost his train of thought.
‘But I’m fine and I’ll be back at work tomorrow. Cheers,’ he said.
Rennie received numerous responses from followers who said they are ‘glad’ he is feeling better.
Almost 600 workers at Australia’s largest meat processing facility have lost their jobs as the company scales back its operations (pictured, Michael McCormack at the plant)
The company does not qualify for the JobKeeper scheme as its turnover has only dropped 40 per cent this year, and not the 50 per cent required by large businesses.
Bosses blamed JobKeeper for creating an ‘inequity’ in the market, with some companies propped up by handouts and others struggling to make ends meet.
JBS Australia chief executive officer Brent Eastwood said it hadn’t been an easy decision, but bosses had been left with little alternative.
‘Already facing a severe livestock supply shortage following an extended period of drought, the COVID-19 crisis has significantly impacted the Dinmore business,’ he told the Courier Mail.
‘The situation has been further exacerbated by the market inequity created by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program.
‘The market conditions mean there will be no work for around 600 full time jobs for the foreseeable future.’
The job cuts at JBS Dinmore, which is one of Ipswich’s largest employers, comes after the company failed to convince Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to make a JobKeeper exemption
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the company over the past few months, with shifts at the factory cut by 40 per cent and 1,700 workers stood down with no pay for two weeks.
Due to the tumultuous few months, workers have lost more than 70 shifts this year and are classed as daily hire, meaning the minimum period of notice for termination is one day.
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union and Blair MP Shayne Neumann said it was one of the saddest cases Ipswich had ever seen.
‘It’s catastrophic for the Ipswich community and it’s devastating for these local workers and families.’
Smaller companies, those with an annual turnover of less than $1billion, must show their their turnover has fallen by 30 per cent to qualify.
For bigger companies making $1billion or more annually, this must have dropped by 50 per cent.
How are the support payments changing from September
* The $1500 fortnightly wage subsidy will continue until September 27
* From the end of September to January, JobKeeper will be reduced to $1200 for full-time workers and $750 for people working 20 hours or less
* From January to March, the full-time rate will be $1000 and part-time will reduce to $650
* Businesses turning over less than $1 billion will have to requalify for the program at both stages through showing a 30 per cent drop in revenue.
* Businesses with more than $1 billion in turnover have to demonstrate a 50 per cent fall
* The elevated unemployment benefit will remain at $1100 a fortnight until September 24
* From that date until the end of the year the $550 coronavirus supplement will be cut by $300 to make the overall fortnightly payment $800
* People will be able to earn up to $300 without having their payment reduced
* The mutual obligation rules requiring people to search for four jobs a month will restart on August 4
* Penalties for people refusing a job offer will be reintroduced
* Job search requirements will increase in September when the assets test will also return
* The permanent JobSeeker rate to take effect from January next year will be announced in the October 6 budget.