Please note: this story contains reference to someone who has died.


Australia has lost a giant of journalism.

Award-winning journalist, Tony Barrass, died on February 28 at the age of 58 after a year-long battle with throat cancer.

Mr Barrass died at his home in Perth with his wife, journalist Danielle Benda, and his three children, including West Coast Eagles player Tom Barrass, by his side.

Mr Barrass was a fearless reporter for The Australian, The Sunday Times, The West Australian, the National Indigenous Times and others throughout his career, and in 1989 became the first Australian reporter imprisoned for contempt of court for refusing to reveal a confidential source.

Rather than breach confidence, he served one week in jail and was fined $10,000 in relation to his incisive reporting on the tax affairs of later-disgraced entrepreneur and WA Inc figure Laurie Connell.

In December 2015, Mr Barrass bought the National Indigenous Times and resurrected the then-struggling paper with an online version launched on February 28, 2016.

He wrote hundreds of articles for the National Indigenous Times in his two years as editor.

Mr Barrass also specialised in advising Indigenous businesses and corporations in communications, and served on the board of Kimberley-based Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation.

Tony Barrass (right) being awarded the 2018 Arthur Lovekin Prize for Excellence in Journalism. Photo supplied.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) described him as a “legendary” figure who had been a union member for 35 years.

His former editor at The West Australian, Paul Murray, said Mr Barrass was “such a beautiful writer”.

“[H]e was also such an engaging personality that you knew if you gave him a chance to spend some time with people, Tony was always going to suck the best out of them. He just got people to talk and he had a wonderful news nose,” Mr Murray told The West Australian.

“He was your archetypal, old-school, gum-shoe reporter and it was combined with a talent for writing really engagingly. He was the full package and we used it to its absolute extent.”

The Australian described him as “a source of inspiration, a man of principle, [an] uncompromising newsman and an effortless storyteller”.

His son, Tom Barrass, has since posted a heart-warming tribute to his late father on Instagram.

“Rest In Peace to my beautiful father Tony Barrass,” he wrote.


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A post shared by tom barrass (@tombarrass)

“There is only one man I trust to gracefully put into words the extent of my love and gratitude for my dad and his teachings, but unfortunately he has put down his pen.

“Love you and miss you mate.”

Mr Barrass is survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Ms Benda, and their three children.

By Giovanni Torre