What is the story behind the 1979 Sydney Ghost Train Fire, and Netflix’s new doc series?
In 1979, a bizarre fire broke out on an amusement park ride with visitors on-board.
Netflix’s Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire covers the mysterious details surrounding a deadly fire that took place at Syndey Luna Park in 1979.
In the annals of tragic events that have left an indelible mark on society, the Sydney Ghost Train Fire of 1979 stands out as a haunting reminder of the consequences when safety measures fail. What was supposed to be a night of amusement turned into a nightmarish inferno, claiming the lives of seven young individuals and leaving an entire community grappling with grief and shock.
Luna Park, nestled on the scenic shores of Sydney Harbor, was a beloved amusement park that had been entertaining visitors since its grand opening in 1935. Its iconic entrance, adorned with a grinning face known as “Old King Cole,” was a symbol of joy for generations of Australians. The park boasted a variety of rides and attractions, with the Ghost Train being one of the main draws for thrill-seekers.
The Ghost Train was a dark ride that took visitors through a series of spooky and mysterious scenes, complete with animatronics and special effects. It had been a staple of Luna Park since its inception, captivating audiences with its eerie atmosphere and unexpected surprises. Little did anyone know that this ride would become the epicenter of one of the most tragic incidents in Australian history.
On the night of June 9, 1979, a group of teenagers excitedly queued up for their turn on the Ghost Train. The atmosphere was festive, with the park illuminated by colorful lights and the sounds of laughter echoing through the air. However, as the group entered the Ghost Train, their joy quickly turned to horror.
Within moments of the ride commencing, a small fire broke out in one of the carriages. Panic ensued as the flames rapidly spread, trapping the passengers inside the dark, labyrinthine passages of the Ghost Train. Despite the efforts of park staff and nearby witnesses, the intensity of the fire and the confined space made rescue nearly impossible.
As the fire raged on, emergency services were summoned to Luna Park. Firefighters battled the inferno, risking their lives to extinguish the flames and rescue those trapped within the ride. The tragedy unfolded before the eyes of a horrified crowd, and the heart-wrenching realization that lives were lost cast a somber cloud over the once-vibrant amusement park.
In the aftermath of the Sydney Ghost Train Fire, investigations were launched to determine the cause of the tragedy, and to identify any negligence or safety lapses that may have contributed to the disaster. The findings revealed a chilling series of oversights, including faulty wiring, inadequate fire prevention measures, and a lack of emergency exits in the Ghost Train ride.
Criticism was directed towards Luna Park’s management, who were accused of neglecting maintenance and safety protocols. It was revealed that the park had a history of safety violations, and the Ghost Train ride had not undergone proper inspections in years. The tragic incident prompted a reassessment of safety standards in amusement parks across Australia.
The Sydney Ghost Train Fire resulted in legal proceedings, with charges brought against Luna Park’s management and staff. The court proceedings shed light on the negligence that had contributed to the disaster, holding those responsible accountable for the loss of innocent lives. The legal aftermath led to changes in regulations governing amusement park safety, emphasizing the need for rigorous inspections and maintenance.
The Sydney Ghost Train Fire had a profound impact on Luna Park, leading to its temporary closure as investigations and renovations took place. The park’s reputation was tarnished, and the tragedy left a lasting scar on the collective memory of the Australian public. The reopening of Luna Park came with heightened safety measures and a commitment to ensuring the well-being of visitors.
As the years passed, the memory of the Sydney Ghost Train Fire lingered in the hearts of those who had witnessed the tragedy and the families who had lost loved ones. Memorials were erected to honor the seven victims, ensuring that their lives were not forgotten amid the lessons learned from the devastating event.
The Sydney Ghost Train Fire remains a cautionary tale, reminding society of the importance of stringent safety measures in public spaces. The tragedy prompted a reevaluation of safety protocols not only in amusement parks but also in various sectors where public safety is paramount. The legacy of the incident lives on in the ongoing efforts to prevent similar disasters and protect the lives of individuals seeking enjoyment in public spaces.
The Sydney Ghost Train Fire of 1979 stands as a haunting chapter in Australian history, marked by the loss of innocent lives and the revelation of systemic failures in safety regulations. The tragedy served as a catalyst for change, prompting a reexamination of safety standards in amusement parks and public spaces. As Luna Park Sydney stands resilient today, the memory of the Ghost Train Fire serves as a somber reminder of the importance of prioritizing safety to prevent such heartbreaking events in the future.
About the author
Taylor Floyd graduated with a Bachelors in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. She has written for true crime TV shows, movies, and podcasts for over five years.
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Inside the making of the ABC EXPOSED investigation into the Ghost Train fire at Sydney's Luna Park in 1979
ABC Backstory Inside the making of the ABC EXPOSED investigation into the Ghost Train fire at Sydney's Luna Park in 1979
During the filming of interviews for her new documentary series, EXPOSED: The Ghost Train Fire, Caro Meldrum-Hanna experienced something that has never before happened to her in more than a decade of investigating difficult and shocking stories, including the disturbing Four Corners program into the NT juvenile justice system which triggered a royal commission.
She was lost for words.
"In several of these interviews, particularly in episodes two and three, what people allege happened [at Sydney's Luna Park 42 years ago] had me absolutely speechless, I was stunned," she says.
"And this has only happened to me on this project, usually I can always think of what to say or I move on to the next question, but during these interviews, there were gobsmacking moments where all I could think of to say was, 'Sorry, can you just repeat that again? I don't know if I actually understood what you've just alleged' because it was so terrible and struck at the heart of everything that our authorities shouldn't do."
Season two of EXPOSED reveals the untold story of a horrific fire in the Ghost Train ride at Luna Park in 1979, which claimed the lives of one man and six boys.
During an 18-month investigation, Meldrum-Hanna, co-creator and series producer Jaya Balendra, co-reporter Patrick Begley and researcher Dunja Karagic secured exclusive interviews with eyewitnesses, police, investigators and government insiders who have never spoken publicly before and raise serious questions about the fire, which police, at the time, declared an accident due to an electrical fault.
"Many of them are taking a huge step out into the sunlight and some are even afraid for their lives, that they'll be tracked down because of what they heard or saw," says Meldrum-Hanna.
"One man said to me, 'If I do this [interview], I'm just waiting to get shot or stabbed because then that's one less witness that they have to worry about'."
"When I first rang people there would almost uniformly be this sharp intake of breath, then they'd say, 'I've been waiting for this phone call' and then there would often be tears.
"They would say things like, 'We were silenced', 'I was fobbed off'.
"It was extraordinary.
"So, for them to participate and finally break these decades-long silences is really big for them and really big for the story too because if this fire wasn't an electrical fault, if it wasn't a terrible accident and it was deliberately lit, if it was arson, we are now looking at the definition of a mass killing.
"That's how bloody serious it is.
"You've got six children and a man incinerated and claims of corruption so you're treading in really tricky and perilous places here."
Martin Sharp the posthumous hero of this story
In 2018, Meldrum-Hanna and Balendra (with journalist Elise Worthington and executive producer Sue Spencer, who is also EP of season two) produced the compelling first season of EXPOSED, which re-opened the bizarre case of Keli Lane , who was convicted of murdering her baby daughter, Tegan.
It was the third-most watched program on iview for the year, was nominated for a swag of awards, including the prestigious international film festival MIPCOM, and the series was snapped up by multiple streaming services globally including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Stan.
The team unearthed new evidence that raised serious questions about the police investigation, the trial and Lane's conviction.
They're still keeping a close eye on the case, which inspired ground-breaking audience engagement with more than 32,000 amateur sleuths joining a Facebook group to try to help solve the mystery.
Meldrum-Hanna says digging into the Ghost Train fire has been a different kind of troubling.
"In the case of Keli Lane, we had no body and a woman charged, convicted and in jail based on a circumstantial case," she says.
"With the Ghost Train fire, we've got seven bodies, a bloody mountain of suspicious circumstances and no-one has been held to account.
"As one of our interviewees said: 'It stinks to high heaven'."
After season one had gone to air, Meldrum-Hanna and Balendra were looking for a new investigation and a close friend of Balendra's urged her to look at the Ghost Train fire, around which rumours and speculation had swirled for decades.
"It was suggested to me by my friend Skye Mccardle, a close friend and neighbour of the late Australian artist Martin Sharp who had become obsessed with the Ghost Train fire because he had restored the face at Luna Park in the 70s," recalls Balendra.
"Skye recalled Martin's firm belief that the fire was deliberately lit and told me how he'd dedicated a whole room, known as The Ghost Train room, in his mansion, Wirian, in Bellevue Hill.
"He had amassed an extraordinary archive of thousands of documents, court records, government reports, newspaper clippings, photographs and hundreds of hours of cassette tape recordings, which were stories about the fire he taped off the radio and conversations and musings with people who had information and theories about the cause of the fire.
"So, I spoke to Caro and we wondered about the ripple effect of this tragedy.
"What if the families of those seven people who died had been lied to for all these years?"
Getting access to Sharp's extraordinary archive required sensitive negotiation with the Street of Dreams Martin Sharp Trust, which is charged with protecting the artist's legacy.
"A lot of people had dismissed Martin Sharp as this eccentric conspiracy theorist, a crazy, old artist but he is the posthumous hero of this film," Balendra says.
"He was a great citizen journalist and was definitely on the right track."
A 42-year fog of grief, anger and trauma
Among those speaking publicly for the first time is Jason Holman, dubbed 'the luckiest boy alive', who was on the ride as the fire erupted and claimed the lives of four of his friends.
Holman and Jenny Godson, who lost her entire family in the fire — two young sons, Craig and Damien, and her husband John — had become close Martin Sharp and also questioned whether the fire was an accident.
The EXPOSED team felt a huge weight of responsibility in reopening the case and asking people to recall that dreadful night.
"What I thought was going to be our greatest challenge was time and deficient memory, but people's memories were very fresh and very raw and they matched their original police statements," says Meldrum-Hanna.
"So, one of the hardest things was handling people's emotions and empowering them to tell their stories.
"It was like we were walking through a 42-year fog of grief, fear and anger."
"We've tried to go about this with every sensitivity we could muster," says Balendra.
"I was aware of the ABC's trauma counselling, which is a great thing that the ABC offers, and I spoke to the people here for advice on how to approach this and we have counsellors who are working with the families."
Like they did in season one, the EXPOSED team has developed a distinctive storytelling style, taking the viewer along with them as the painstaking investigation unfolds and heads off in unexpected directions.
"It was like a mosaic and you never knew where one piece of information might lead you," says co-reporter Patrick Begley.
"And it was often an enormously difficult task to track people down and find people who had moved to the other side of Australia.
"We might start with a common last name and an initial and we'd use every resource, we'd go through funeral notices to see if they'd passed away, we'd ring everyone we could think of who might know what happened to them and at times it was a laborious process but was definitely worthwhile in the end."
The key people interviewed for the documentary are also let into the investigation as Meldrum-Hanna shares what they've uncovered.
"Our interviews are very interactive and we provided people with the confidential reports and documents that we had obtained that they'd never seen before and they explored them with us which led to all these penny-drop, lightbulb moments for them and they'd say, 'See, I wasn't lying, there are other people who are saying and thinking this'," she says.
Re-enacting the fire
Another big challenge in bringing this story to television was the lack of archive footage of the fire, only two brief film clips exist, so the team decided to film an ambitious re-enactment.
"We wanted to convey the ferocity of the blaze that occurred that night and the unusual behaviour of the fire which witnesses described as being like an 'atomic bomb'," says Balendra.
"The witnesses also recalled horrific images of burning carriages coming out of the ride with no-one in them and that was an image that was really seared into my mind."
It was a massive undertaking that involved building a historically accurate replica of the Ghost Train ride, an extensive risk and safety assessment and liaison with the NSW fire brigade, which was on site during filming.
"Our production designer Andrew Raymond mined the extensive materials shared with EXPOSED by the Martin Sharp Trust, including coronial documents, old photographs and the original engineer's diagram of the 180-metre-long Ghost Train," says Balendra.
"Andrew and his team faithfully recreated the Ghost Train carriages, doors, ghoulish interior decoration, and cage area encased in diamond wire fencing where those riding the train came out into the open air.
"During filming, the carriages were manoeuvred using ropes and we wanted to give a real sense of how passengers experienced the labyrinthine ride."
Director John Mavety and cinematographer Andy Taylor worked with film pyrotechnician Lou Stefanel.
The re-enactment was filmed in two parts, with strict safety procedures, initially at ABC's Lancely Place studio in Sydney and then at a quarry where the entire set was burnt to the ground.
"My heart was in my mouth recreating the fire because we only had one go at it," recalls Balendra.
"And it was all over very quickly, just as the actual Ghost Train was razed within minutes, and there was nothing left."
While it gave a confronting insight into what happened, recreating the fire also helped the team's investigation into whether the blaze was an accident or arson.
"It allowed us to be even more forensic in our journalism," says Meldrum-Hanna.
"Because we could place where everyone was during the fire, which shed even more light on the chain of events and the movement of the fire, how big the flames were, what direction they were going, what did they smell like, so it gave us a whole new dimension journalistically."
Calls for the tragedy to be officially re-examined
With production wrapping up and the first episode of the three-part series scheduled to air on March 16, the EXPOSED team is now nervously wondering what will happen once the public and authorities learn what they have uncovered during their investigation.
"The families of the deceased and the people who were inside this investigation, police and other people who are speaking out, say that this has to be reopened," says Meldrum-Hanna.
"One detective said to me, 'You have found information that no-one had at the time, this is fresh material', and it demands it to be reopened, whether that be another inquest or something even bigger with more compulsion powers.
"There is a chorus of people saying that this simply cannot be left as some terrible curiosity in Australian history, that something must be done and I hope that the powers that be listen to that."
The three-part series of EXPOSED: The Ghost Train Fire begins on ABC TV and iview on Tuesday, March 16 at 8:30pm
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Debuting over Britain's ITV in 1991, Ghost Train was intended as the successor to the network's weekend children's program Get Fresh. On the earlier series, two human hosts and a space-alien puppet escorted the kids at home to various colorful locales in the British Isles. On Ghost Train, the humans joined a sheep puppet named Noddy, who lived in a rural funfair, on Noddy's various and sundry railway jaunts to the nooks and crannies of Mother England. The weekly, 120-minute Ghost Train ran until 1994.
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ABC Ghost Train series ‘misleading’ in linking Wran and Saffron
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An independent review of the ABC’s three-part documentary on the 1979 Luna Park ghost train fire found the series relied on interviews and a “misleading” graphic to imply an unsubstantiated corrupt relationship between NSW Premier Neville Wran and underworld boss Abe Saffron.
The review of E xposed: The Ghost Train Fire series found viewers were left with the impression the program had concluded Mr Wran was complicit in a cover-up over the fire involving Saffron – a claim which the broadcaster said was not its intention.
Journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna and co-investigator Patrick Begley present Exposed: Ghost Train Fire on the ABC. Credit: ABC
Award-winning journalist Chris Masters and University of Sydney Professor Rodney Tiffen, who conducted the review, found the series “mounted a compelling case for a new investigation” and presented a scathing demolition of the police investigation and uncovered fresh evidence pointing towards arson being the cause of the fire. It was “in most ways an outstanding achievement”, their report said.
But the reviewers were critical of documentary makers Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Patrick Begley’s efforts to “point to a direct and/or corrupt relationship with Wran and Saffron” by relying on witness testimony and a graphic.
“In the judgment of the program makers the reliability of the witnesses speaking to this was thoroughly tested and all were considered credible. The review team from a more remote but disinterested standpoint was not so convinced,” the report, published by the ABC on Monday, said.
A storyboard graphic used to link key characters throughout the program “overreached the evidence” by suggesting “a strong and direct link between Wran and Saffron” and was “misleading.” The program’s broader references to political corruption were “vague, anonymous, and unhelpful”.
In a statement, ABC news director Gaven Morris said it was entirely appropriate for the ABC to investigate the accusation that Mr Wran had aided Saffron to secure the lease of Luna Park, noting the allegation had first come to light in the so-called “Age Tapes” investigation.
“ABC News doesn’t accept the reviewers’ opinion that the graphic was misleading. The series did not purport to have proven the allegation,” Mr Morris said.
He said the review had “found no factual inaccuracies” and the ABC was proud of the team’s work in revealing new evidence regarding the fire.
“The series was clearly in the public interest and has resulted in a NSW Police unsolved homicide squad investigation and an historic $1 million dollar reward. The NSW Coroner is formally considering a fresh inquest,” Mr Morris said.
The devastation after the ghost train fire in 1979 at Luna Park. Credit: Rick Stevens
The program was welcomed by the families of the victims of the fire. Paul Carroll, the brother of now deceased Richard Carroll, wrote to the ABC in late May to state it had shown “integrity” and “concern” for the family’s welfare.
The series focused on the deaths of six children and one father, and the involvement of corrupt senior NSW Police in its first investigation and inadequate second investigation. The police concluded the fire was the result of an electrical fault.
A third episode alleged Mr Wran, who was then-premier of NSW and died in 2014, met socially with Saffron and that High Court judge, Lionel Murphy, and a solicitor discussed in telephone conversations how Mr Wran could be persuaded to back a bid for the burnt Luna Park site by a company owned by Saffron. The accusations were based on claims by Saffron employee, Rosemary Opitz who said Wran had Friday night drinks with Saffron and were “very pally”, and an interview with former policeman, Paul Egge, who was involved in a wire-tapping operation.
The review found “no solid evidence was given to corroborate [Optiz’s] most serious claims, and no contrary views were presented”.
The report notes that in the closing moments of the series, Meldrum-Hanna concludes by telling relatives of the victim that Saffron “was behind the fire and got away with it” and the reason the investigation stalled was because “a lot of powerful people in powerful places protecting Abe” and it “went right to the top”.
“The cumulative effect of interview commentary, the storyboard graphic, the sequence summarising findings with family members and absence of rebuttal content left the reviewers with a strong impression the program concluded Wran was complicit,” the report said.
But the reviewers said the depth and breadth of Meldrum-Hanna and Begley’s reporting was otherwise to be commended.
“The program makers uncovered much suspicious evidence around arson being the cause of the fire, exposed the incompetence of the police investigation, reported on the inadequacies of earlier investigations, revealed the way policymaking by the NSW government benefited Saffron, and the corrupt circle of influence around Saffron,” the review said.
The ABC commissioned the review following strident criticism that it was unfair to Mr Wran from numerous high-profile figures, including former NSW premiers Bob Carr and Barrie Unsworth, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former ABC chairman David Hill.
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How Ghost Train Fire exposed remarkable police corruption, yet also failed ABC’s high journalistic standards
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Denis Muller does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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An independent review has concluded that while the ABC’s recent true-crime series on the 1979 Luna Park fire makes a strong case that it was arson, the program misled its audience by suggesting a link between the notorious Sydney crime figure Abe Saffron and the late NSW premier, Neville Wran.
The review was commissioned by the ABC after an initial complaint about the program’s treatment of Wran had been dismissed by the ABC’s internal processes.
It was carried out by one of Australia’s foremost media scholars, Emeritus Professor Rodney Tiffen of Sydney University, and the distinguished investigative journalist Chris Masters.
Three main questions in the series
The Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire series dealt with three main issues.
Was the cause of the fire properly investigated by the police, bearing in mind six children and one adult died?
Who stood to benefit from the proposed redevelopment of the site that followed the fire?
Was Wran connected with Saffron and did he interfere with the decision-making about the redevelopment to advance Saffron’s interests?
On the first issue, Tiffen and Masters found the program produced sufficient evidence to show that on the balance of probabilities, the fire was caused by arson. They went on to say:
The police investigation was inadequate and had a predetermined outcome – that the fire was the result of an electrical fault. The reason for this police failure was corruption, and the links between the officers involved and organised crime figures. The program mounts a scathing demolition of the police investigation. Uncovering fresh evidence and with the use of witness testimony, Exposed demonstrated there was no effective forensic investigation of the scene, and in fact it was immediately compromised by police and others. The program convincingly makes the case that the coroner had to proceed with insufficient evidence.
As to who stood to benefit, the reviewers found that although Saffron’s name did not appear on any relevant documents, the program produced evidence showing Saffron’s cousins and nephew were principals of Harbourside Amusements, the company that ultimately won the tender to redevelop the Luna Park site.
The reviewers said the program mounted a persuasive case that through personal links, Saffron was effectively in charge of this venture.
Read more: 10 years after Finkelstein, media accountability has gone backwards
Shortcomings with one main argument
It was on the third issue where the reviewers found fault with the series.
They found the crucial decision to award the contract to Harbourside Amusements was made by a committee of senior public servants, and there was no evidence of Wran interfering with that decision-making.
Concerning Wran’s alleged connections with Saffron, the reviewers found a number of shortcomings.
The first was reliance on evidence from what became known as The Age tapes. These were made by NSW police tapping the telephone of a Sydney solicitor, Morgan Ryan, who was suspected of being involved in an immigration racket, among other things.
Several of the taped conversations were between Ryan and Justice Lionel Murphy, a former attorney-general in the Whitlam government and by then a justice of the High Court.
However, because the tapping was done without a warrant, the tapes were inadmissible in court. They were leaked to the crime reporter Bob Bottom and published in The Age in February 1984. It led to a royal commission.
The commission found that although the tapes were genuine, the transcripts were too unreliable to be admissible as evidence in court.
One allegation in the transcripts was that Murphy had intervened with Wran to arrange for a Saffron company to win the lease for Luna Park, at the behest of Ryan. Further, it was alleged Murphy told Ryan that Wran had agreed to do this.
Concerning this, the reviewers said:
Wran himself was not caught in any surviving evidence, and so he figures in the transcripts only as a figure whom others are making claims about. Even if Wran had agreed with Murphy to make representations regarding the Luna Park lease – and this is far from an established fact – it is not clear how he did so.
The reviewers continued:
The program makers contended to the reviewers that the surviving Age tapes evidence supports the proposition that Neville Wran was allegedly in direct communication with criminals. The reviewers note the 394-page report sighted by them does not mention Luna Park. Nor is there any evidence of Neville Wran’s communications being directly intercepted.
Strong impression that Wran was complicit
Tiffen and Masters also did not find corroborating evidence in the program to support the related question of whether Wran socialised with Saffron.
The primary source here was Rosemary Opitz, who said she was “in Abe Saffron’s inner circle for approximately 40 years”. She said Saffron used to put on Friday night drinks, and that she saw Wran there, “very pally” with Saffron.
The reviewers concluded the program’s due diligence checks affirmed Opitz’s credibility. However, they said no solid evidence was given to corroborate her most serious claims, and no contrary views were presented.
Finally, the reviewers drew attention to a storyboard used by the program to illustrate alleged connections between Saffron and several other figures, including Wran. Of this, the reviewers stated:
Apart from the Opitz interview, no such direct relationship between Saffron and Wran has been established. This graphic is dramatic but in suggesting such a strong and direct link between Wran and Saffron it is misleading. The cumulative effect of interview commentary, the storyboard graphic, the sequence summarising findings with family members and absence of rebuttal content left the reviewers with a strong impression the program concluded Wran was complicit.
In response, ABC News Director Gaven Morris issued a statement saying the network did not accept the reviewers’ opinion that the graphic was misleading. He went on :
The series did not purport to have proven the allegation. The review does not question the decision to include any of that material in the series but contends that viewers would have been left with the impression that the program was asserting Mr Wran’s guilt. That was not the program’s intention or assertion.
The ABC’s editorial director, Craig McMurtrie, had previously told a Senate committee the program had not needed to corroborate the material about Wran with multiple sources because Wran was not a focus of the series. Further, he said, the material about Wran was presented as allegations, not proven facts.
This position was also supported by the ABC’s editor-in-chief and managing director, David Anderson.
‘Unproven’ allegations swinging in the breeze
These responses do not represent the journalistic standards the ABC is renowned for, on the whole rightly. “What is your second source?” is one of the first questions the editor of an investigations unit will ask a reporter bringing forth serious allegations of the kind aired about Wran.
Serious allegations cannot just be left swinging in the breeze as “unproven” when the initiating process that hangs them out there is your own investigation.
It doesn’t matter whether Wran was the focus of the series or not. What matters is the seriousness of the allegations made against him: that he was complicit in a corrupt process and socialised with a notorious crime figure who ultimately benefited from that corrupt process.
At the same time, the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.
Anyone who was paying attention to the aftermath of the Luna Park fire knew there was a stench surrounding it, but in the Sydney of the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was impossible to get to the bottom of it.
As the reviewers noted, the Exposed series did a remarkable job in showing how corrupt police derailed the investigation from the start, prompting calls now for a new inquest or a judicial inquiry.
The series also joined the dots connecting Saffron to the crime, providing at least a modicum of explanatory relief for the families devastated by the deaths of six children and an innocent man.
Read more: The long history of political corruption in NSW — and the downfall of MPs, ministers and premiers
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Ghost Train (TV series) facts for kids
Ghost Train is a children's television programme broadcast on ITV , between 1989 and 1991, produced by Tyne Tees Television in association with various ITV regional stations including Border Television, Television South West, Ulster Television, Channel Television and Grampian Television.
The series concept involved presenter Frances Dodge inheriting a ghost train from her grandmother. With the help of fellow presenters Paul J Medford and Sabra Williams, she sneaks the train from the grasp of the evil Barry Mafia (Joe Hall) and makes her escape. Inside is a startled Gerard (Angelo Abela), the aliens' favourite broadcaster, and a camp sounding talking sheep, named Nobby (a puppet operated and voiced by Simon Buckley). However Barry Mafia is after them, aided by the Mafiaettes.
As Barry hatched several schemes to get his hands on the Ghost Train, the trio of friends used the train as a platform for special guests, live performances from pop music artists, and introduced various cartoons including Scooby-Doo , The Real Ghostbusters and The Trap Door . At the end of season two, Barry finally regained control of the Train, but would lose it back to Frances in season three. The series ended on a cliffhanger, with the crew exiled to an alien planet.
Nobby would resurface in another Tyne Tees-produced Saturday morning show Gimme 5 , while the rest of the crew would appear in various non related shows, but this did not resolve the cliffhanger as no reference of the events was ever mentioned by Nobby.
A spin-off Sunday morning series, Ghost Train on Sunday was produced in 1989 by Border Television and presented by Shauna Lowry.
- Series 1: 22 editions from 1 April 1989 – 26 August 1989
- Series 2: 19 editions from 21 April 1990 – 25 August 1990
- Series 3: 21 editions from 6 April 1991 – 24 August 1991
- This page was last modified on 18 December 2023, at 12:05. Suggest an edit .
N.B.: Other sources refer to this work as Ghost Train Trilogy and Ghost Train Triptych.
Year: 1994 Duration: c. 20:00 Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation) Publisher: Hal Leonard Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $375.00 | Score Only (print) - $60.00
1. Ghost Train: The Ride – 5:25 2. At the Station – 6:55 3. Motive Revolution – 7:40
Full Score Flute I-II Oboe I-II Bassoon I-II B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II B-flat Tenor Saxophone E-flat Baritone Saxophone B-flat Trumpet I-II-III Horn in F I-II-III-IV Trombone I-II-III Euphonium Tuba Piano Timpani Percussion I-II-III-IV-V-VI, including:
- Chinese Cymbal
- Crash Cymbals
- Sleigh Bells
- Splash Cymbals
- Suspended Cymbal
- Wind Chimes
None discovered thus far.
The legend of the Ghost Train, a supernatural machine that roars out of the night through forgotten towns and empty canyons, is deeply rooted in American folklore, and it was this spirit I worked to capture.
The compositional challenge came in creating a larger three-movement work from the first movement which was originally conceived and performed as a single event. I felt that the use of trains as a source of sounds and inspirations was virtually inexhaustible, but I wanted to save the integrity of the original while using it as the architectural foundation. At the Station is just that: the train comes to a roaring halt and the passengers depart. In this movement I see countless images: friends and family reunited, the soaring architecture of the station itself, and the genuine sincerity and innocence of the era. After a reflective pastiche the locomotive builds up steam and slowly departs, grand and graceful. The Motive Revolution is twofold in its implication. The name refers to the period between 1850 and 1870 when steam engines revolutionized transportation, and also describes the cyclical treatment of musical motive throughout the movement. The train blazes across the country side, moonlight glistening off it's dark steel, and ends with a final, heroic tribute to these machines and the people who worked them.
The first movement was written in the winter of 1993-1994 and received its premiere March 7th, 1994. Movements II and III were written in the winter of 1994-1995, and the entire triptych received its premiere on March 14th, 1995. Ghost Train was written for and is dedicated to Thomas G. Leslie and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Wind Symphony.
- Program Note by composer
- Audio: Reference recording. Ensemble and conductor unknown
- Audio : Reference recording. University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David Waybright, conductor)
- Audio CD: Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band (Syunsaku Tsutsumi, conductor) – 1999
- Audio CD: Riverside Community College Wind Ensemble (Kevin A. Mayse, conductor) – 2007
- Audio CD: Rutgers Wind Ensemble (William Berz, conductor) – 2004
- Audio CD: University of Florida Wind Ensemble (David A. Waybright, conductor) – 2011
- Louisiana: V
- Michigan: Senior High AA
- Minnesota: I (Mvmt 1 only)
- VI: play Movement 1 only
- Masterworks: play all
- Tennessee: V
- Virginia: VI
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Charles River Wind Ensemble (Boston, Mass.) (Matthew M. Marsit, conductor) - 29 October 2023
- Queen's University (Kingston, Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Dan Tremblay, conductor) – 2 April 2022
- Grove City College Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Andrew Erb, conductor) - 24 March 2022
- California State University, Stanislaus, Wind Ensemble (Stuart Sims, conductor) – 12 March 2020
- Bixby (Okla.) High School Wind Ensemble (Jeremy W. Parker, conductor) – 23 February 2020
- Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphony Band (Chris Chapman, conductor) – 3 December 2019
- Mercyhurst University (Erie, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Scott Meier, conductor) – 27 October 2019
- University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Michael Robinson, conductor) – 27 September 2019
- University of Toronto (Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Gillian MacKay, conductor) - 5 April 2019
- Ohlone Wind Orchestra (Fremont, Calif.) (Tony Clements, conductor) – 10 March 2019
- Iowa State University (Ames) Symphonic Band (Stephen Smyth, conductor) – 15 February 2019
- Indiana University (Bloomington) Symphonic Band (Alexander Baczewski, conductor) – 23 October 2018
- Los Angeles (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Stephen Piazza, conductor) – 7 October 2018
- Metropolitan Wind Symphony (Lexington, Mass). (Louis J. Buckley, conductor) – 6 May 2018
- University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Orchestra (Terrence Milligan, conductor) – 18 April 2018
- Yale University (New Haven, Conn.) Concert Band (Thomas Duffy, conductor) – 13 April 2018
- Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (Kirk Saville, conductor; Ray Smith, tenor saxophone; Stephen Lindeman, piano) – 4 April 2018
- United States Army Field Band (Domingos Robinson, conductor) – 12 March 2018 (Melbourne, Fla.)
- Brock University (St. Catharines, Ont.) Wind Ensemble (Zoltan Kalman, conductor) – 6 December 2017
Works for Winds by This Composer
- The Seal Lullaby (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Ambrose) (2011/2021)
- Sing Gently (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Mösenbichler-Bryant) (2020/2021)
All Wind Works
- Cloudburst (1991/ tr. 2001)
- Deep Field (2015/2016)
- Equus (2000)
- Fly to Paradise (arr. Shaw) (2003/2012/)
- Ghost Train (1995)
- Godzilla Eats Las Vegas (1996)
- Goodnight Moon (arr. Mösenbichler-Bryant) (2011/2017)
- Libertas Imperio (2009)
- Lux Aurumque (2005)
- Noisy Wheels of Joy (2002)
- October (2000)
- October (arr. Miller) (2000)
- October (arr. Ritz & Sullivan) (2000/2005)
- The Seal Lullaby (2011)
- Sleep (2000/2002)
- Sleep (arr. Nowlin) (2000/2016)
- Sleep, My Child (arr. Gershman) (2013)
- Star-Spangled Banner (as arranger) (1814/2018)
- Eric Whitacre website
- Perusal score
- Whitacre, E. (1994). Ghost Train [score]. Eric Whitacre: Yerington, Nev.
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Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire
- TV Mini Series
Exposing the truths behind the mystery of the Ghost Train Fire at Sydney's iconic Luna Park, Caro Meldrum-Hanna returns for a ground-breaking three-part investigation. Exposing the truths behind the mystery of the Ghost Train Fire at Sydney's iconic Luna Park, Caro Meldrum-Hanna returns for a ground-breaking three-part investigation. Exposing the truths behind the mystery of the Ghost Train Fire at Sydney's iconic Luna Park, Caro Meldrum-Hanna returns for a ground-breaking three-part investigation.
- Caro Meldrum-Hanna
- Patrick Begley
- Jason Holman
- 11 User reviews
- 1 nomination
- Self - Ghost Train Attendent
- Self - Luna Park Employee
- Self - Father of Jonathan Billings
- Self - Firefighter
- Self - Sister of Michael Johnson
- Self - Father of Richard Carroll
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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User reviews 11
- Dec 17, 2023
- November 9, 2023 (United States)
- Branden i spøgelsestoget
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Ghost Train , retitled Percy's Ghostly Trick on North American releases, is the twenty-fourth episode of the second series . It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Tramway Engines .
- 2 Characters
- 3 Locations
- 7 In Other Languages
- 8.1 TrackMaster
- 8.2 Magazine story
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- 11 References
"Neither do I. It was a pretend ghost on television."
Percy tells Thomas and Toby the story of a ghost train that his driver saw the night before. However, Thomas does not believe a word of it and calls Percy a silly little engine. The next morning, Percy tells his driver that Thomas did not believe in the ghost and the driver explains that it was a pretend ghost story that he watched on television. This disappoints Percy but he is too busy to even think about ghosts for the rest of the day.
Later that evening, Percy is a light engine and is returning from the Harbour to the Sheds. Despite the darkness, Percy knows just where he is but he is unaware that a cart full of lime is stuck on the tracks at the level crossing ahead due to a broken wheel. While Sam the Farmer had just gone for help after failed attempts to pull the cart, Percy, coming down the line too fast to stop, smashes the cart to smithereens. Lime flies everywhere, completely covering Percy.
Percy runs to the nearest signal box , where he meets Toby and his driver explains to the signalman what happened. The signalman arranges to sort out the hazard on the line but suggests Percy be cleaned up, as he looks like a ghost. This gives Percy the idea to scare Thomas and asks not to be cleaned until he plays his trick. Toby agrees to help and sets off.
At the Sheds, Thomas is being prepared for his evening train when Toby arrives and tells him that Percy just had an accident. Thomas is mildly concerned for Percy but more worried that this will make him late. Toby tells him the line has been cleared but that he thinks he saw Percy's ghost saying it was coming to warn them. Thomas is unconcerned and tells Toby not to worry.
"I'll chuff, And I'll puff and I'll break your door in!"
Shortly after, a ghostly voice is heard outside, demanding to be let in. As Thomas watches in horror, the shed doors creak open, revealing what appears to be Percy's "ghost". Thomas nervously says he is late and rushes off to collect Annie and Clarabel. Even after he has finished his run, he is so scared that he does not return to the shed for the rest of the night.
The next morning, Thomas meets Toby at the station. He reveals that he spent the night in the goods shed, claiming that he knew Toby would be upset about Percy's demise and did not wish to intrude. As Thomas stumbles through his excuse, he hears Percy's whistle in the distance and runs off.
Percy, having heard everything Thomas said, arrives and rolls up alongside Toby. Percy cannot help but feels pleased as Toby remarks that Thomas is acting as if he had just seen a ghost .
- Annie and Clarabel ( do not speak )
- Percy's Ghost Engine ( does not speak )
- Sam the Farmer ( mentioned, deleted scene )
- Terence ( deleted scene )
- Tidmouth Yard Sheds
- The Branch Line Cutting
- The Watermill
- The Windmill
- Ffarquhar Quarry
- Crowe's Farm Crossing
- New Harbour ( mentioned )
- This is the 50th episode of the television series overall.
- The ghost steam train is just Percy's model covered in flour and white streamers with Edward 's whistle sound.
- In the restored version of the episode, the fade effect after Thomas leaves Tidmouth Station is removed.
- Percy and Toby's exchange at the sheds is a spoof of the tale of The Three Little Pigs .
- The crate of treacle, later used in the next episode , is seen twice: first at the scene of Tidmouth Station in between one of the Breakdown Train's cranes and the two brake vans, the second when Percy scares Thomas at the end.
- In the English dubs, when Toby says "Anyone would think that our Thomas had just seen a ghost," a reverb effect is used on "ghost" to provide a scary-like feel.
- Ringo Starr's US dub of this episode was broadcast on Shining Time Station but, to date, it has not been released on home video in any form.
- A promotional image of a deleted scene shows Terence pulling the lime cart. This image was used on the cover of the Ghost Train Swedish VHS released in 2001 and Ghost Train and Henry and the Elephant Swedish DVD released in 2002.
- This episode's name would later be shared with one from Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go .
- The events of this episode were later mentioned by Percy in the third series episode Thomas, Percy and the Dragon .
- According to the Conductor 's trading card , the Conductor helped Percy play his ghostly trick on Thomas in this episode.
- Unlike other episodes, Percy's lamp is placed on his middle shaft, not the one on his right (viewers' left). This is mainly due to him using the original UK headcode of "Light Engine".
- The first episode narrated by George Carlin in the US alongside the third series episode Thomas, Percy and the Dragon during its Shining Time Station premiere.
- The first episode released in the US narrated by a narrator born in that country.
- The first time fog is shown throughout an entire episode.
- The first supernatural-themed episode of the entire franchise.
- The first appearance of Toby's shocked face. It would appear from the third series onwards but with different eyebrows.
- The only appearance of Percy's Ghost Engine, although it was mentioned in the third series episode Thomas, Percy and the Dragon.
- The only supernatural-themed episode of the entire franchise to feature Thomas' original shocked face.
- One of the three second series episodes where Thomas' horrified face is seen without teeth with the others being Thomas, Percy and the Coal and Thomas Comes to Breakfast .
- The only appearance of Toryreck Junction until the twenty-first series episode Hasty Hannah and its only appearance in the model series.
- The only appearance of Crowe's Farm Crossing until the seventeenth series episode Thomas' Shortcut and its only appearance in the model series.
- Had the scene not been deleted, this episode would have marked the only appearance of Sam the Farmer in the television series.
- The final episode to feature Thomas' infamous original first series "O" face. It would appear again via stock footage in Paint Pots and Queens . The reason why it never properly appeared again after this episode was because the production crew considered it "too jarring" for younger viewers. 
- The last second series episode released on DVD in Croatia.
- The last episode to feature the viaduct being repaired.
- CEL Home Video did not release this episode, Edward's Exploit , Woolly Bear nor Thomas and the Missing Christmas Tree on any of their 1989 VHS releases in New Zealand. Instead, these four episodes later premiered on home video in New Zealand on Endeavour Entertainment 's VHS release of The Deputation and Other Stories in 1992.
- Percy's left (viewers' right) cylinder is loose during the first half of the episode.
- At the quarry, both Thomas' dome and whistle appear to be crooked.
- When Percy is puffing through the valley, he has a black box attached to his cab. This is most likely the power source for both of his lamps. This can also be seen on the back of Percy's Ghost Engine, earlier in the episode.
- When Percy passes the windmill, his tail lamp is not red.
- Percy's face moves while he is talking to Toby.
- Percy's driver's hat appears to have a chip on the top.
- Toby's eyes are misaligned and his face also does not appear to be on properly.
- In the restored version, as Toby leaves Percy to go to the sheds, the puffing noise starts before he moves. This is because an alternate take of Toby leaving was used instead of the original shot.
- Percy is nowhere to be seen in the shot of nearby Tidmouth Station and the shunting yard when he arrives.
- Thomas and Toby's eyes are misaligned.
- Toby's eyes also jerk from up to down when telling Thomas about Percy's accident.
- Toby's face mask is loose.
- Percy's lamp is slightly crooked.
- His lamp is off and slightly tilted to the left (viewers' right).
- There are also wires next to the windows outside.
- A piece of wood can also be seen behind the doors, which cracks open a bit when he leaves.
- During the scene when Thomas visits Toby at the station after his scare, Thomas is right next to Toby for the wide shots but is a little further forward during his close-ups.
- Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas leaves Tidmouth.
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- ↑  on ThomasTankMerch's blogspot
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Army spearheads 15-day ‘train-for-work’ program for Central Luzon’s unemployed
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- by Jenrie Del Rosario
- Jan. 12, 2024 2:02 pm in News
DAGUPAN CITY (PIA) – The 702nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army together with the Career Builders Skills Training and Assessment Center, Inc. (CBSTACI) has recently launched a 15-day train-for-work program for residents of Pangasinan, Tarlac, Bataan, and Zambales.
The program, which started on January 9 at Camp Lt. Tito B Abat in Manaoag, Pangasinan is under the Peace and Community Empowerment (PACE) initiative.
Brig. Gen. Gulliver Señires, commander of the 702nd Infantry Brigade, stressed that the PACE program focuses on promoting peace and inclusive development support such as helping local government units achieve a stable economy, and one of these is providing skills training and employment opportunities to all.
Jose Chan Jr., founder of CBSTACI, said “Your training here will be divided into three parts. First, we will focus on developing your technical skills. Second, we will work on the formation of your values. And third, we will hone your soft skills.”
He added, “We will also teach you how to budget, cook, and be a responsible worker and citizen. All accommodation, food, and necessities are free.”
Chan stated that after the training, their deployment would begin in various locations including Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Metro Manila, and Pasig.
He also stated that after working for one year, the beneficiaries of the program will be given the opportunity to obtain a passport in preparation if they wish to work abroad.
Arnesty Nartatez, a beneficiary of the program, expressed his gratitude.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa tulong na ibinigay ng programang PACE. Malaking pagpapala po ito sa akin, at taos-puso po akong nagpapasalamat sa 702nd Infantry Brigade at Career Builders,” he stated.
(I am grateful for the assistance provided by the PACE program. It has been a great blessing to me, and I extend my sincere thanks to the 702nd Infantry Brigade and Career Builders.)
Señires said the graduation ceremony for Batch 1 will be held on January 25 at Camp Lt Tito B Abat in Manaoag town, and this will be followed by Batch 2’s training-for-work on sewing.
Meanwhile, Chan said that the Career Builders movement has been active for 10 years with its establishment rooted in the advocacy of “Building Lives For Better Future” to address unemployment and poverty alleviation and to help people become self-sustaining.
Since its establishment, Chan said the CBSTACI has helped around 2,000 individuals find jobs, 437 people have been able to work abroad, and around 1,000 people have been granted passports during the COVID-19 pandemic. (PIA Pangasinan)
DAGUPAN CITY (PIA) – The 702nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army together with the Career Builders Skills Training and Assessment Center, Inc. (CBSTACI) has recently launched a 15-day train-for-work program for residents of Pangasinan, Tarlac, Bataan, and Zambales.
Señires said the graduation ceremony for Batch 1 will be held on January 25 at Camp Lt Tito B Abat in Manaoag town, and this will be followed by Batch 2’s training-for-work on sewing.
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ABC rejects criticism of Neville Wran’s treatment in Luna Park ghost train fire series
ABC ‘doesn’t accept’ independent review findings Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire series made ‘misleading’ suggestions regarding the former premier and Abe Saffron
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ABC News has rejected the findings of an independent editorial review of Exposed: The Ghost Train Fire that found allegations of political corruption surrounding former New South Wales premier Neville Wran were “vague, anonymous, and unhelpful”.
Wran, who led NSW as Labor premier for a decade, died in 2014, aged 87 . A group of his former staffers has been critical of the ABC documentary by award-winning journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna .
The three-part series examined the fire at Sydney’s Luna Park in 1979, which killed six boys and a man.
The review, by veteran ABC journalist Chris Masters and academic Rod Tiffen, said the series did not establish a direct relationship between Wran and organised crime figure Abe Saffron but gave the “strong impression” that Wran was complicit in corruption.
Masters and Tiffin were critical of the use of a “dramatic” but “misleading” graphic that suggested “a strong and direct link between Wran and Saffron”, which the program did not prove.
“Throughout the program a storyboard graphic is used to link key characters,” the review said. “While a useful visual device, the technique overreached the evidence in one crucial respect … no such direct relationship between Saffron and Wran has been established.”
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But in a response to the review, published on Monday night , ABC News director Gaven Morris denied the program asserted Wran’s guilt.
“ABC News doesn’t accept the reviewers’ opinion that the graphic was misleading,” Morris said. “The series did not purport to have proven the allegation. The review does not question the decision to include any of that material in the series but contends that viewers would have been left with the impression that the program was asserting Mr Wran’s guilt. That was not the program’s intention or assertion.”
Meldrum-Hanna also defended the program, taking to social media to detail how other media has reported historical allegations regarding Wran and Saffron repeatedly over the years.
This morning I’m looking forward to an avalanche of complaints about all the previous coverage by all other media outlets who reported the exact same allegation & Paul Egge’s evidence (but without contemporary interviews with him or other relevant police and judicial witnesses) https://t.co/GnOhWnXdnI — Caro Meldrum-Hanna (@caromeldrum) August 30, 2021
The ABC has remained steadfast on the program’s accuracy, with its complaints unit clearing it of breaching editorial standards.
“As the review notes, the series has received much public acclaim and very few viewer complaints,” Morris said. “None of those complaints has been upheld by the ABC’s independent complaints investigation unit. We note that the review found no factual inaccuracies.
“The Exposed series, entirely appropriately in the view of ABC News, examined the same allegation, and pictured the same individuals as other media did in 2017.”
But the reviewers found the program did overreach on the Wran allegations, reporting the Wran material as an “allegation”, and “unproven”, and a “scenario” no fewer than 10 times. “The program makers have not succeeded in framing a conclusion that plainly stated their position,” they concluded.
“Well, if it were just a passing comment from a guest on The Drum maybe not that serious. But when it’s a glossy $2 million ABC blockbuster it matters.” #MediaWatch pic.twitter.com/tIFobJJ5EO — Media Watch (@ABCmediawatch) August 30, 2021
Media Watch host Paul Barry delivered a critical review of the program, which was also scathing of Morris’s rejection of the findings.
“Frankly, we are dumbfounded by [the Morris] response,” Barry said. “To argue that the program did not point the finger at Wran and that these eminent reviewers have got it wrong is, in our view, indefensible.
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“The ABC really needs to do better. In some respects it was a great program. In others it went too far.
“We’re told it will not be taken down and re-edited but, we hear unofficially, there will not be another series of Exposed and perhaps no more ‘true crime’ from ABC News.”
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