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John Hewson reflects on ‘birthday cake’ interview following death of Mike Willesee

Image: ABC/Australian Story – Mateya Clark

Former Liberal leader John Hewson has paid tribute to legendary reporter Mike Willesee.

The veteran journalist has lost his battle with throat cancer aged 76.

Throughout his career, he became known as a fearless interviewer and pioneer of current affairs television.

Among his notable achievements is the famous ‘birthday cake’ interview, where he cornered then-opposition leader John Hewson on the issue of GST.

Many believed the interview was a turning point in the election, which Hewson would go on to lose.

Click PLAY below to watch the ‘birthday cake’ interview

But Mr Hewson tells Ben Fordham there aren’t any hard feelings.

“I think he was a journalist with a genuine passion… he made an enormous contribution.”

Mr Hewson laughs as Ben replays the memorable interview on-air.

“A good question and a particularly bad answer now I hear it again!”

Click PLAY below to hear John Hewson pay tribute to Mike Willesee

Ray Martin, who worked with Willesee at the ABC, says it’s an example of his immense talent as an interviewer.

“That was a groundbreaker in that election… it may well have cost the Liberal Party the whole government.”

Chris Smith also reflects on his time working with Willesee on A Current Affair.

Click PLAY below to listen to Chris Smith and Ray Martin share stories about the veteran journalist