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43 Walkley luminaries sign open letter, following protests over Walkley’s Ampol sponsorship deal 

Some of Australia’s top journalists are calling on the Walkley Foundation to protect the profession’s standing by ruling out fossil fuel sponsors.

In an open letter the winners and finalists, including three Gold Walkley winners, asked the Foundation to: 

  • establish a climate reporting award
  • agree to not renew its sponsorship arrangement with Ampol
  • commit to declining any new sponsorship arrangement with a coal, oil,  or gas company.

It comes after a mass pull out of Walkley award applicants, led by Cartoonist Jon Kudelka, because of Ampol’s sponsorship of the awards, which will be held in Sydney on November 23.


Gold Walkley winner and media freedom advocate, Peter Greste, said “One of the most important tenets of journalism is its independence of commercial or political interests. With that in mind it’s hard to see how the Walkleys can uphold those principles while also taking sponsorship from oil and gas companies. And in cases like these, the appearance of independence matters as much as the reality. If the public thinks the awards are influenced by the sponsors, they lose their value and integrity. That’s why I have signed the petition.”

Comms Declare, a climate advocacy group representing communications professionals, wrote to the Walkley Foundation in February raising concerns about Ampol’s sponsorship.

Comms Declare Founder, Belinda Noble said, “Just like tobacco, fossil fuel companies are using sponsorships as a reputational fig leaf – allowing them to curry favour while profiting from products that are damaging our health and climate. Fossil fuel sponsorships are not charity, they’re influence peddling, and our most prestigious journalism awards need to be above that.”

Open Letter Signatories

  • Lorena Allam
  • Vivien Altman
  • Rebecca Armstrong 
  • Danny Ben-Moshe 
  • Mary Binks
  • Yaara Bou Melhem
  • Eric Campbell
  • Jane Caro
  • Jenny Coopes 
  • Anwen Crawford
  • Mark Davis
  • Bentley Dean
  • Winsome Denyer
  • Nick Evershed
  • Dan Goldberg 
  • Matt Golding
  • Vanessa Gorman
  • Peter Greste
  • Miles Herbert
  • Karina Holden
  • Judy Horacek
  • Greg Jericho
  • Mireille Juchau
  • Fiona Katauskas
  • Glen Le Lievre
  • Tosca Looby
  • Anne Manne
  • David Marr
  • Miles Martignoni
  • Catriona Menzies-Pike
  • Sophie NcNeill
  • Adrian Nesbitt
  • Maya  Newell
  • First Dog on the Moon
  • Jennifer Peedom
  • David Pope
  • Geoff  Pryor
  • Andrew Quilty
  • Amos Roberts
  • Olivia Rousset
  • Ali Russell
  • Dylan Welch
  • Cathy Wilcox

Withdrawals from 2023 Walkley Awards

  • David Blumenstein
  • Christoher Downes
  • Nick Feik
  • Matt Golding
  • Megan Herbert
  • Greg Jericho
  • Fiona Katauskas
  • Jon Kudelka
  • Glen Le Lievre
  • Patrick Lenton
  • First Dog on the Moon
  • David Milner
  • Wes Mountain
  • David Pope
  • Olivia Rousset
  • Jack Ryan
  • Andrew Weldon
  • Joel Werner
  • Cathy Wilcox
  • Rachel Withers
  • Dean Yates

About the Walkleys and Ampol

  • The Walkleys are named after Ampol’s founder, Sir William Gaston Walkley.
  • Sir Walkley, Australia’s first oil baron, founded the awards in 1956. 
  • Sir Walkley also sponsored polocrosse, fishing, golf, rally driving, soccer, indoor bowling and surf lifesaving, among others.
  • The current Ampol ‘Platinum’ sponsorship began in 2022 as part of Ampol’s $165m rebrand from Caltex.
  • Ampol also sponsors the State of Origin, Ampol ‘Little Origin’, the Smith Family and Red Bull Racing as well as influencers on TikTok and Instagram.
  • In 2021/22 Ampol donated $88,750 to political parties.
  • In the September quarter 2023, Ampol increased fuel sales by 11%, with profits up 65% to $438.2m.
  • Ampol has no concrete plans to reduce its main (scope 3) emissions and has demand forecasts that are inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.
  • The Walkleys Foundation is reviewing its sponsorship policy.