Four Corners: June 12

Thirty years on from a Chris Masters Four Corners report into corruption amongst Queensland police, Mark Willacy hears from the whistleblowers in “Breaking the Brotherhood.”

Breaking the Brotherhood: The brave few who blew the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force.

“‘Break his camera and break his mouth too!’ was the order.” Chris Masters ‘The Moonlight State’ (1987)

It was Queensland, the year was 1987, and the State’s police force was riddled with corruption. The brotherhood of crooked cops who gave the green light to illegal gambling and prostitution believed they were untouchable.

“The level and systemic nature of it, reaching to all levels, including the highest political levels, was truly a shock to me.” Leading Criminal Investigator

There was a conspiracy of silence, from within the Queensland Government and all the way up to the highest levels of the force. The nature and the extent of the corruption sickened the honest cops, who operated in a world where they could trust no-one.

“There were times that I actually feared for my life and for the life of my family. It was clear to me that we had institutionalised corruption taking place.” Undercover Operative

A small band of brave crime fighters, and their families, took the enormous risk to trust a journalist with the State’s darkest secrets. The result was ‘The Moonlight State’, perhaps the most explosive true story ever told on Australian television.

“There is another side to the Sunshine State. Despite some wholesome attempts to pretend otherwise, the Queensland Government has not managed to stop the devil at the border. In the Sunshine State, sex is a great little earner.” Chris Masters ‘The Moonlight State’ (1987)

Chris Masters’ landmark report prompted one of the most important anti-corruption investigations in Australian history, the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which led to the jailing of the Queensland Police Commissioner.

But the whole story of how the whistle was blown has never fully been told. Now the key players who put their trust in Chris Masters have come forward to tell their story, on camera, for the first time.

“I’m sitting there with my wife at home, because I knew when it was going to air, and I’m watching it. And I had this silly grin on my face, but it was also teary because we actually made it, we survived. The story got to air.” Whistleblower

“I believe that fate brought (us) together and that something had to be done.” Undercover Operative
The program also reveals the shocking lengths corrupt police went to, to try to silence the whistleblowers, and reporter Chris Masters

“My son had been walking home from school and a car had pulled up beside him and told him that his father was going to be killed.” Undercover Police Officer

“Things got very scary, and a very powerful syndicate of organised criminals and corrupt police realised that they had an illicit empire to protect and they started to play nasty.” Chris Masters

Thirty years on from ‘The Moonlight State’, leading law enforcement figures warn that every police force today must remember the lessons of those dark days so they can never be repeated.

Monday 12th June at 8.30pm on ABC .


  1. I risk being cut down and ridiculed here, but the Chris Masters report 30 years ago wrecked Qld as far as I was concerned and spelt the end of Qld as a fun state and a good place to take a holiday. After that report police began blitzing gay beats across the state, men were charged under the anti-gay laws, brothels and strip shows were closed down and a whole range of things people took for granted and enjoyed suddenly became criminal. For example, I was one of the bodybuilders who used to walk up and down Cavill Ave in Surfers Paradise wearing nothing but a G-string. We used to walk around the Gold Coast like that and nobody said anything. We were an attraction, a bit like the meter maids. After the Masters report I – and the rest of us – were charged with indecent exposure and we were just lucky that the judge agreed with our lawyer that there had been a precedent on the GC for…

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