‘He asked me back to his room’: Emma Alberici's flashback
"IT'S not surprising. I've been around a long time. And so I know many of the stories," Emma Alberici, the host of ABC's long-running current affairs show Lateline says.
The presenter is getting ready to wind up the flagship news and current affairs show she's hosted for six of its 28 years and talk has turned from the show's end to sexual misconduct in Australia's media industry.
It's one month after claims of abuse began flooding Hollywood. And just days before Don Burke - the former host of the wholesome Burke's Backyard and one of the country's most high-profile entertainers in the '80s and '90s - faces claims from former staff alleging he was a "high-grade twisted abuser" and "sexual harasser".
The allegations are the first of a long-promised investigation led by Australian journalist Tracey Spicer. Asked about the pending investigation, Alberici - who started her career as a cadet at the Herald Sun before holding roles at Channel Nine's A Current Affair and as ABC's Europe correspondent - is not surprised the stories are about to surface.
"It wouldn't take much for the average person to Google some of them. I mean, they happened in full light," she tells news.com.au, before pausing to think for a moment.
Alberici explains the "degrees of behaviour" women are exposed to - particularly in the entertainment industry.
"It's one thing to say the wrong thing. It's another thing to touch someone inappropriately. A lot of 'saying the wrong thing' happens," she says. "And I think that when you are young ... look ... I've been in workplaces where young women have been the targets and I've been there. And sometimes I think men prey on vulnerable younger women. I have never been the subject of any of that kind of behaviour in my workplaces."
'THE RULES HAVE NEVER BEEN DIFFERENT'
Alberici recalls an instance that happened when she was a 23-year-old reporter. She says she never really thought about it - but was reminded of it by the recent claims of misconduct both here and overseas.
"The worst that happened to me - and I didn't actually see it as (misconduct) ... But my first job interview in television, the executive asked me to go back to his hotel room," she said.
"And I just kind of laughed it off and said, 'Well that wouldn't look very good, would it? If I got the job then people would think that's how I got the job. And that would be bad for me'. "And he kind of didn't pursue it and that was the end of that. I didn't really think about it until recently ... I still got the job. I think sometimes men forget about the power dynamic. What's appropriate and what's not appropriate becomes a little blurred in their heads. But, as I said, I still got the job and I said no. And that was respected. So, was that a really bad thing? I don't know."
Many of the claims brought forward in Australia and overseas happened in the '70s, '80s and '90s. In response to the New York Times investigation into his treatment of women in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein said he grew up in a time when the "rules … were different".
"I hate that argument," Alberici says of the excuse.
"The rules have never been different. That's like saying, 'I was a priest in the '60s and '70s when the rules about how to treat young people were different'. Yes, there was a whole lot of, 'They should be seen and not heard,' and that's why we didn't hear all the claims and instances of abuse. Because we believed children shouldn't be heard. And I think, in some respects, women weren't heard."
'THAT BLOKE GETS MORE MONEY BECAUSE HE HAS A FAMILY'
It's 11.30 in the morning, and Alberici, 47, has been up since 5 for her daily run. She's read the newspapers, flicked through online news sites and Twitter, carted her three kids - between the ages of nine and 13 - off to school and wrapped a 9.30 conference call with her production team to plan that night's show.
By midday, Alberici will be at the ABC studio in Sydney's Ultimo - where she'll grill local and international political heavyweights, interview overseas correspondents and often set the next day's news agenda - and won't return to her Coogee home until 10.30pm.
"I've been really happy with my career to date. I was the first mother sent overseas as a correspondent in the ABC's history and I had three (kids) under four. I was on maternity leave when I got the job and I had a five-month old. I'm saying that out loud because I still can't believe it. And a few months later I was being tear-gassed in Athens," she says, noting her "surprise" when she was offered the gig.
"And when I became finance editor at 7.30 I was up against six guys. I've enjoyed proving that a woman and a mother can do anything."
Earlier in the week, Alberici had hosted the Telstra Business Womens Awards where Lisa Wilkinson spoke as a guest - just weeks after her spectacular defection from Channel Nine to Network Ten over pay parity that dominated national headlines.
Alberici says she's "sick" of having the conversation about why women should be treated the same as men.
"I've had bosses say to me over the years, 'That bloke gets more money because he's got a family to look after' - as if I don't have a family to look after. This is just what society thinks about men and thinks about women and that's got to change," she says.
This Friday, Lateline will broadcast its final show. In its 28 years, the program has been seen as critical in setting the headlines and has won multiple Walkley Awards, including one for a report on an alleged cover-up of child sex abuse by clergy and police in Newcastle.
Alberici - who has been at the helm of the late-night current affairs program for the past six years - will take up the new role as chief economics correspondent at the broadcaster.
She describes the end as "sad" but says changing viewer habits mean it's the right decision.
The final episode will air on Friday, December 8, and bring back all former hosts including Kerry O'Brien, Tony Jones and Maxine McKew.
Lateline airs weeknights on ABC from 10.30pm.
The final episode will air this Friday, December 8.