|Phil Dickie emerged from university with a degree combining forestry, politics, economics, sociology and linguistics but it was editing student newspapers and freelancing for motorcycle magazines that set him on his career path. |
Major Queensland daily The Courier-Mail said "Don't call us, we'll call you" in response to a 1982 application to write about something other than motorcycles so he went to a regional paper and put local government under an unusual degree of scrutiny. The Courier-Mail then offered him a job writing about motorcycles and the Sunday Mail, not then under very tight or consistent editorial control, allowed him to write about just about anything.
In late 1986 a delve into Brisbane brothel ownership turned into a series of articles which fingered police up to assistant commissioner level with involvement in franchising vice and organising crime. The articles, together with an ABC Four Corners program, forced the government to call an inquiry which ran for two years and heard revelations of police corruption all the way up to the Commissioner's office and political corruption all the way up to the Premier's suite. The inquiry brought down Queensland's longest serving Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, a few months short of his 20th anniversary in office. The electorate, now educated, ended 30 years of conservative rule at the next available opportunity. Police Commissioner Sir Terence Lewis, four government ministers and a swag of police, criminal and business identities were jailed. The inquiry transformed the way such investigations were carried out within Australia and was an important marker in the development of anti-corruption institutions and mechanisms nationally.
Phil Dickie received Australian journalism's highest award, a Gold Walkley, for his work leading to the Fitzgerald inquiry and his bestselling book The Road to Fitzgerald remains required reading on investigative journalism in universities around Australia.
Following the inquiry, Phil Dickie became a special advisor to the newly formed Criminal Justice Commission. He played a notable role in researching and formulating law reform proposals for prostitution, illegal gambling and illicit drugs, conducted landmark research on organised crime and initiated and assisted with corruption and organised crime investigations. Four years on, with the CJC committing itself to a traditional rather than effective response to crime, Phil Dickie left to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, commentator and consultant.
Among other endeavours, Phil Dickie has taught investigative journalism, investigated dubious property marketing practices for the State government, and established a reputation for environmental writing and consulting.
He also wrote The Sunday Mail column "Watching" which was innovative for Queensland in not being about him or guided by popular prejudice. This column was (intentionally) highly upsetting to the trade of authority and lasted three and a half years longer than the author expected.
Melaleuca Media is a partnership of Phil Dickie and his wife Susan Brown, a former senior political adviser and researcher. Notable projects included editing an online publication, being news editors of an international environmental glossy, researching and writing major background and investigative features, playing a key role in Australian regional activities under the Global Mining Initiative and making a major media event of the 2004 World Congress of Entymology.
With Susan developing a new international career, Phil Dickie (partly still with the Melaleuca Media persona) also explored new territory with major writing projects for the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and WWF International among others. A report on Rich Countries, Poor Water which surveyed and anticipated the parlous state of water supplies in the developed world attracted extensive international media attention, as did a follow-up report on desalination.
In 2007, he was called in to provide emergency media services for WWF International and stayed to play a major role in rebuilding and leading their international press office. He later set up WWF's global issues management function, providing assistance to offices and presences in more than 100 countries. Phil Dickie is currently based in Switzerland and engaged in a number of investigative and reporting projects.
Phil Dickie has been honoured with the award of an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to journalism and the print media and was designated a Queensland Great by his home state, in recognition of his "extraordinary contribution" to its development and history.