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Don Burke

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Don Burke
Donald William Burke

(1947-07-16) 16 July 1947 (age 76)
  • Television presenter
  • producer
  • author
  • landscaper
Years active1987–2004
Known forBurke's Backyard host
SpouseMarea Burke

Donald William Burke OAM (born 16 July 1947[citation needed]) is an Australian television presenter, television producer, author and horticulturist. He is best known as the longtime host of Burke's Backyard, a lifestyle program produced by his wife's company CTC Productions, which ran for 17 years from 1987 to late 2004 on the Nine Network. He was also responsible for the creation of garden makeover program Backyard Blitz, starring former colleague Jamie Durie.


In 2004, Business Review Weekly listed Burke among its top 50 entertainers list, saying he earned an estimated A$7.2 million in 2004.[1]

Burke is a professional horticulturist and former board member of Landcare Australia and has been active in a number of other public roles. Burke spent 20 years working on his own home and garden.[2] He has been an outspoken critic of numerous environmental advocacy groups. From July 2005 to late 2008,[3] Burke was the Chair of the climate-change-denying Australian Environment Foundation,[4] a group that has links to the politically conservative Institute of Public Affairs.

Burke was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) on 26 January 2010 for service to conservation and the environment through advisory roles, to the horticultural industry, and to the media as a television presenter.[5]

Burke appeared on A Current Affair in July 2015, with his wife Marea, discussing her health battles including arteriovenous malformation (AVM) and breast cancer.[6][7]

Sexual misconduct allegations[edit]

An investigation started when journalist Tracey Spicer announced on Twitter that she was investigating the sexual harassment by powerful men in the Australian entertainment industry. Spicer said, "One name kept recurring – Don Burke".[8][9] On 26 November 2017, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Sydney Morning Herald published a joint investigative piece containing claims that Burke had sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, and bullied women throughout his television career. The report quotes alleged female victims, as well as both female and male witnesses, including David Leckie—the former head of the Nine Network, on which Burke's programs aired—comparing Burke to American producer Harvey Weinstein.[8] Kate McClymont, Lorna Knowles, Tracey Spicer and Alison Branley received a Walkley Award for their investigation.[10]

Other former Channel Nine executives went "on the record" to comment on the allegations.

Sam Chisholm said, "Don Burke was a disgrace because of his behaviour internally and externally. This precluded him from ever becoming a major star."[11]

Peter Meakin said, "There was gossip about inappropriate language and he was incredibly demanding. If someone fell short of the mark, he would excoriate them. He was unforgiving."[11]

In response to the allegations, Burke released a lengthy statement which said he was "deeply hurt and outraged at the false and defamatory claims" and suggested the "baseless" claims were from former employees who "bear grudges against me". Burke also stated that he has had a "life-long opposition to sexism and misogyny".[11]

Burke claimed to have self-diagnosed Asperger's syndrome and, in a media interview[12] following revelations about his alleged misconduct, said that these "genetic failings" were to blame for some of his conduct. In response, Autism Awareness Australia stated that Burke's claim was "beyond appalling" and "gobsmacking".[13]

In the following days, many celebrities came forward to recount their observations of Burke's sexist and offensive behaviour, including Susie O'Neill,[14] Kerri-Anne Kennerley,[15] Di Morrissey, Debra Byrne, Tottie Goldsmith, Amity Dry and Mike Carlton.[16]

Following the interview on A Current Affair,[17] one of the women sued Burke for defamation on the grounds that he said she had lied about the sexual harassment allegation and that she made the false allegation as part of a "witch hunt" during the interview. She lost the case on the grounds that Justice David Mossop did not find Burke's denial in the interview was credible, so viewers would not conclude that she was a liar or part of a witch hunt, and thus was not defamed.[18][19]


  1. ^ "Australia's 50 richest entertainers". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 7 April 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Enough Rope interview with Andrew Denton". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  3. ^ Mahosey, Jennifer (23 September 2008). "Don Burke Retires as Chair of the Australian Environment Foundation". jennifermarohasy.com. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  4. ^ "Australian Environment Foundation". aefweb.info. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Don Burke OAM". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  6. ^ Grimshaw, Tracy (28 July 2015). "Don and Marea Burke". A Current Affair (Interview: video). Archived from the original on 22 November 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Don and Marea Burke's secret fifteen-year battle". 9news.com.au. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b McClymont, Kate (27 November 2017). "'A high-grade, twisted abuser': Don Burke a sexual harasser and bully, claims series of women". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  9. ^ Spicer, Tracey (28 November 2017). "The Australian media industry operates a protection racket for men like Don Burke". smh.con.au. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Award Winners – The Walkley Foundation". walkleys.com. 22 November 2018. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "'He was trying to take my top off': Don Burke accused of sexual harassment". ABC News. 27 November 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Don Burke admits affairs, blames Asperger's". The Morning Bulletin. 27 November 2017.
  13. ^ Colangelo, Anthony; Bowden, Ebony (28 November 2017). "Head of Autism Awareness Australia blasts Don Burke's 'appalling' Asperger's excuse". Retrieved 28 November 2017 – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  14. ^ McClymont, Kate (27 November 2017). "Olympic swimmer Susie O'Neill 'flabbergasted' at Don Burke comments: 'It was crude and it was belittling'" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  15. ^ Weir, James (1 December 2017). "Inside the Channel 9 boys' club". news.com.au.
  16. ^ McClymont, Kate (2 December 2017). "In their own words: Women speak up against Don Burke" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
  17. ^ A Current Affair - Don Burke breaks his silence.[dead YouTube link]
  18. ^ Williams, Elliot (28 June 2019). "Don Burke wins defamation case against woman he allegedly sexually harassed but has credibility questioned". Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  19. ^ Marshall, Hannah (5 July 2019). "Why Wendy Dent's defamation loss is a win for #metoo" (PDF). Marque Update. Marque Lawyers. Retrieved 2 December 2020.

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