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Talking Heads -

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What happens now, he can go back in.

You may know Rex Hunt - the fish-kisser, footballer, family man and even philanderer.

G'day, folks. Thanks for joining us.

But there's another Rex - the cop pursuing white collar crime.

Take that cotton picker off me.

The carer of 30 years with a partner debilitated by depression. And then there's Rex the boy, told
he'd never amount to anything.

COMMENTATOR: ..and has kicked the goal.

Bullied at school and dismissed by his teachers, Rex Hunt set out to prove that he could be a
success by pursuing his passions. Well, a stream of TV shows, radio programs, a fish cafe and
products ranging from fishing rods to board games has made him very rich indeed. Rex Hunt, welcome
to Talking Heads.

Thank you, Peter, very much.

Where did you get this larger-than-life character from?

I suppose I got it from my childhood because I wanted to noticed because I was never any good at
anything. I suppose, in the light of day, I think because I was a big kid, and that means quite a
broad kid and a tall kid, that I thought I had to be loud. So it's about...

Were you always loud?

Uh...not always. Not always. Until I found the most precious gift of life and that was
self-confidence and self-belief when you decide you have a right to be on this planet, you can do
something very, very good. Although I wasn't good at, you know, building a cubbyhouse or building a
skateboard or something like that, that I could actually play football and catch a fish and the
supreme confidence probably led me into the persona that many people would identify today.

This great sense of fun actually served you very well. It's made you a distinctive product.

The thing about it is, I think what we've proven that people who don't like football even listen to
our football broadcast.

You brought that to fishing too.

Yeah, I did. I wanted to make fishing fun, I wanted to make fishing for fun and if the kids go, get
the mum and dads involved, get the kids kissing a few fish and that's what it's all about. I'm not
big on fishing programs that say how to put on hooks and put on bait and look at the fish and that
sort of thing. It's more than the fish. It's about where you're going, who you're going with and
just enjoying the environment. I think that's why we've survived for 14 years.

Well, let's look at the extraordinary story of Rex Hunt starting from when you were a nipper. And
in those days, not only did you lack self-esteem as you say, but you also had pretty low scores in
the sports field.

Oh, and in the schoolyard as well. I was born in Mentone on 7 March, 1949 in Melbourne. I don't
know whether I was a mistake or not, but my mother was well into her 40s, so I think I was sort of
a change-of-life baby. To me, my brother and I as kids had old parents and they were more of
guardians than friends. As a kid, fishing was my out. I was away from the bullies. I didn't have to
be embarrassed because I was on the bottom of the class. All the kids were better footballers than
I was. They were all slim, I was quite chubby. And when you feel inferior, and then when teachers
tell you that you're no good, it has a profound effect on your development. There are worms in the
bucket, mate. Yeah, worms. Yuck, eh?


I was a loner, I was bullied, and then I remember, when I was about 13, I hit a bully back.


I agree with you, mate. It could be my saviour though, mate. Year 9 was a disaster for me. I slowed
down and I felt really sad. But then I suppose if asked to describe my career at the Mordialloc
High School, I started off slowly, then I completely slackened off.

Were the teachers telling you you were no good?

Well, the headmaster for a start. He dragged me in and said "What do you do with your life? I said
, "I want to be a fisherman and a footballer," and he said, "Well, you'll never make a living out
of fishing and football. "You want to get a trade like a plumber or an electrician." I didn't go
down a sewer and fix a blocked pipe and I didn't want on top of a pole and get electrocuted.

Your first fish weren't all that good either.

No, they were tiny and... But at least they were fish.

(Laughs) H

ow many fish did YOU catch on your first day. Peter?

Not...actually not many since, when I think about it. You're 6'4" now and you grew many of those
inches over a couple of years, isn't it?

I grew five inches in about 18 months from 15 to 16.

That turned the tables. I

t did and I started to take marks. For those people who don't understand what a mark is, when you
catch the football in Australian football, you know, you control the game, and I couldn't believe
how I could dominate a game. And within 18 months I was running around the MCG in front of 100,000
people with a premiership medallion.

When you think back, what does your memory tell you about where you started to shift from being the
person that didn't have much self-esteem and was bullied to actually someone that was starting to
believe in themselves?

Probably the fourth form, I think it's year 10. I'd got out of year 9, where I spent some of the
best years of my life. I joke, but...

Two years.

It was not much good. And when I got into the intermediate, I had an impersonal talk to one of the
mentors down at school and we had decided perhaps a career in the police department wouldn't be a
bad idea. And I hasten to add, my mother thought it was great cos she thought I'd look good in a
uniform. My father thought it was good 'cause I'd have a fortnightly cheque. So that's a great
reason, innit? Now, I want to get to the intermediate certificate. I want to be a police cadet and
I want to make a career out of being a policeman.


A lot of people say, "When did you make the decision to join the police department?" Well, I
didn't. My mother and father did. And believe it or not, that's the reason I joined the police
department in 1966. In a year and a half, I came from a kid with pimples eating ice-cream and
lollies to a police constable guarding Parliament House with a loaded gun. I took up a position at
the city traffic branch. It was about 150 of us who directed traffic.


It was a fantastic time of my life because that year I played league football, I was a policeman,
bought a brand- new car and life was pretty good. It was 1970 when I was called up for National

Three green summer underpants. A pair of winter pyjamas. Three pairs of long johns.

I didn't want to go in the army, but I accepted it. I did my three months training at Puckapunyal.

You can do better than that, boy. Get right up there. That's it. Come on, further up you get.

And then, I'm sad to say, I filled in time until the day I got out because all I did was drive the
colonel around. I found it hard not to be bitter. But I'm proud now. I did my time and I couldn't
get back into the police department quick enough. I worked so hard to become a detective in the
company fraud squad because I always wanted to specialise in white-collar crime.


Everything that you do in the police force is someone's misfortune.

Take that cotton picker off me.

I'll be damned!

So what? Take your hands off.


But the thing that tipped me over the edge was knocking on the door of parents and you know, giving
death messages. Holding a young boy in my arms and he turned blue and actually died. Being shot at.
I suppose I should have been dead if I hadn't a stumble on a fence by the Prince of Wales Hotel. It
was time to move on. And I joined the police force as a 16-year-old cadet with pimples and I left
as a 30-year-old sergeant and suddenly I was a civilian again.

You talked about going into the cops completely green and coming out as a 30-year-old, in a sense
fairly sickened partly by what the job involves. What did that do to you?

It had a profound effect on me. And the biggest mistake I made - look, hindsight's a wonderful
thing. I should have stayed in the company fraud squad 'cause I was dedicated to exposing blokes in
Zegna suits who were taking pensioners for millions of dollars in their office and weren't being
treated the same way that a bloke that walked in with a hood and a sawn-off .22 to the State Bank.

Most cops of course get confronted by having to turn a blind eye to something or at least being
asked to do that, and you did too.

Yeah, I did. I caught a very high profile... ..or a son of a high profile hotelier speeding
recklessly along Beach Road. And I put the report in and I was told quite bluntly by the
superintendent that the report had not been recommended to go to the court. So the traffic fine was
pulled out and there was a steam and dry iron delivered to my place and that was the payment. So
how about that?

You saw much more of that stuff?

I saw a lot more. You just accepted that as being normal because you were supervised by sergeants,
inspectors and superintendents who were brought up in that culture. The culture of the police
department when I was there with the chief commissioner started off as a constable, you know,
throwing drunks out of the Prince of Wales Hotel.

How tough were you?

Not very tough. I was tough cos I had a badge and a gun.

Did you fire the gun?


Other than target practice?

Yeah, I did as a matter of fact. I was out in the market garden one night at Cheltenham when I was
with Cheltenham crime car squad. And just at this particular stage, I decided that a couple of
areas needed a bit of surveillance. Where I was, as a kid, I knew there were a couple of good hills
of rabbits around. I got a pair of rabbits and presented them to the night-shift barbecue. Probably
the only time I shot my gun.

Rex, you must have been a champion juggler too balancing, as you were, being in the police, then
later being in the army and at the same time, being in first class football. CHEERING

Straight through the eye of a needle. The Parkdale Football Club - my second home in the '50s and
'60s. I used to cut oranges for the firsts and seconds, run the boundary for the thirds in return
for an old worn-out footy. And then I'd get it, hop up over there, BOOM! the lights would come on,
and that's where it all started.

COMMENTATOR: Rex Hunt, John Nichols.

My VFL career started in 1968.

..good kick by Hunt towards half forward...

And the seven years I spent at Richmond were just absolutely unbelievable. Culminating with the
highest honour in 1969 and 1973 as a member of the Premiership side. And I was one of them. The
little fat kid from Parkdale!

It's got to be Hunt once again. Look at him.


He's been the dominant man in the aerial battles all day, Rex Hunt, and fitting into centre half
forward like the manner born. as mark No. 12...

11, I think. 11 i

s it?

I wanted to further my career in the police department. In 1974 I moved to Geelong where I was a
big fish in a small pond and I did really, really well.

Hunt is unmarked as Hewitt passes to Rex Hunt.

And after two years, I then transferred back to St Kilda where I was a policeman at St Kilda and a
footballer at St Kilda.

Now looking for Hunt. That's...Hunt wins. Wonderful anticipation by Hunt. Great judgement.


Will Clarke to Rex Hunt and has kicked the goal.

Did you have a big following among the girls?

No, I was frightened of girls. I was so shy. I...

Shy with a big voice?


You've got to clear this up.

Well, I was still shy and unsure of myself because for quite some time, I didn't believe that I
belonged. I didn't believe that I belonged as a policeman with a badge and a gun, I didn't believe
that I belonged as a member of the Richmond side that had won a premiership for the first time in
years. It was a while before I accepted the fact that I did belong.

So the girls were after you but you couldn't quite handle it.

I don't think there were many girls after me and I always consider myself an ugly duckling
and...but when I met my wife, it all changed. It was fantastic.

What about, how do you assess your own mix of talent and hard work compared to others?

I try and speak to three or four schools a year in an assembly and I try to get across that, you
know, just because you're bottom of the class doesn't mean you can't buy the school. The message is
to do your best. It's not important to be the best. But I look back at the days at Parkdale, which
we've seen. Probably 14 better kids there than I was if you were going to say who'll play league
football out of this lot.

So do you think the difference was you had more drive than the others?

No doubt. I had a vision, I had somewhere I wanted to go, and I dreamt for so many years even as a
ice cream boy in Bay 13 watching Ron Barassi. I dreamt that one day I would run out there. And then
when I got this supreme self-confidence that I was as good as anybody in grabbing that football out
of the atmosphere, away I went. There was no stopping me. I got fit, I had a resting pulse of 52, I
had the most magnificent feeling in my mind that no drug or alcohol could give you. It was this
light-headedness feeling of wellbeing and continual intoxication through the rush of adrenalin.
It's something that I'll never forget in my life, is the pure drug in your system. There's nothing
on earth like it.

Your football career turned out to be a stepping stone for something you even, perhaps, yearned
about more than playing football, as we're about to see.

I remember as a teenager at Parkdale, you know, sitting in the grandstand, as far as everyone as I
could with a jam tin to make it sound hollow and as if I had a, you know, a radio voice on and that
sort of thing. Yeah, Rexy has got it! Oh! I was practising for what I wanted to do later on in
life. And he turns around and goes bang! And Parkdale are running away with this. ..thank you very
much. A long ball goes over the head of Tarrant. It favours the hourglass. He now does a pirouette
and gets it to C.B. CB hand passed. Beautiful slugger off the boot, King hold! Yeah! And for 41
years, I've either been playing or broadcasting Australian Football at the highest level.

It's the Eagles by seven points.

I beg your pardon? Don't go smoking here, mate, or I'll get you thrown out! You sit down! You
blokes, you should be at the cricket!

West Coast...

Don't smoke or I'll start to fart, mate! You piss off yourself! Come out the back, you idiot! And
what we have here is an underwater steam train. And I think he's upset. The first time I had a
fishing show on television was called 'Angling Action' in 1981. Then we became national. And then
we sold the program overseas to about 152 countries. And I must admit, I felt pretty good about it.
Nice blue fin tuna. Particularly when people come and say, "We love your show "and you're welcome
in our home." (English accent) Have a cup of tea, love, ready for me, you know, in England. See ya
later. So, what happens now, he can go back in... The first show I ever made on television, I
kissed a fish. The thing about it is why I kissed a fish was because I knew that if I showed
respect for the fish, the Greenies don't have a leg to stand on. I see you got all the gear there,

Well, this is the latest Loomis, Rex.

Still, a bloke like you, Mike, would be on a couple of million a year, wouldn't you, Mike? One more
time for Uncle Rexy boy, yeah! I'm very aware that the medium in which we work is about
entertainment. You've just got to lighten up a bit.

When did it click for you that, hey, here's a whole business opportunity? Because a lot of this, a
lot of these things all integrate nicely together to be a commercial success story for you.

I saw the amount of kids come up and want autographs and get photos and that sort of thing and I, I
started... ..they used to buy beanies from Kmart and grow their hair long and that sort of thing. I
said, "We've got a cult figure going here" and I just thought, "This is an opportunity "to turn
this into a business," because Greg Norman had spoken to me about three years earlier when I was a
young cadet at 3DB, doing the football. He said, you know, "You could do for fishing what I've done
for golf." I don't think I quite got to his heights or Tiger Woods's heights.

Or Steve Irwin did for wildlife.


It's not all upside, because you ended up in the Supreme Court with your manger.

Yeah, I did. Shocking time of our life. But it had to be done. In hindsight, we lost a lot of a
money, but we got our life back.

When I read your account of your dispute with your manager in your book - you devote quite a lot of
space to it - I thought, "How naive was Rex?" Have you changed your sense of trust about other
people? I mean, you were taking for granted really, really fundamental stuff about the running of
your business.

Yeah, I was. I wasn't big on contracts and that sort of thing. And, unfortunately, now, I spend
more time in my office signing contracts than I do actually working. But on a serious note, it does
change you.

And what did you find out about yourself?

That I'm not a bad person. That at times in my life I have chose to go down a road that I shouldn't
have gone down and I didn't have the common sense to turn around and go back. But it also showed me
that it's not the end of my life. Life is just precious and wonderful. And the most important
people in my life are my wife and two children and their wellbeing. It was 11 November, 1968 that I
met Lynne. And we've been together ever since. It's been amazing. When trouble comes along, she's
just sensational. When I'm not going so well or the ratings have been horrible, I'm a bit of a
drama queen, I sort of think, "This is the end of the world!" With Lynne, it's not. Lynne has been
a sufferer of bipolar depression for nearly 30 years. She is a fantastic example of surviving the
impossible. Um...most people have only seen my wife when she's well. You want to see her when she's
unwell. She is just an inspiration. And,'s a horrible, horrible condition, but Lynne has
proven it's not a life sentence. It just looks such a good boat. That teak is looking fantastic
since I found out that your thing that you treat teak... Without any shadow of doubt, the two
happiest days of our lives have been the birth of our lovely children. Lynne and I have always set
out to be good friends with our children. And we're off, hey? SS Minto. Matthew was born at Pambula
on the south coast of New South Wales. And Lynne went into labour pulling up the anchor on my boat
when I was whiting fishing on the Pambula River. Rachel, that's another story. I was fishing in a
Victorian trout fishing competition on the Goulburn River and suddenly Lynne said, "I think we'd
better go." And the fish were just starting to bite. But on a serious note, it's been an incredible

Lynne has spoken about her bipolar... ..on Neil Mitchell's program.

She has.

So she's been upfront about it.'s been a problem for a long time - 30 years, virtually.
Virtually the whole time of your marriage.

Yeah, it has. It started after Rachel was born. But in relation to Lynne going on the Neil Mitchell
program, I was very proud of her. Because since then, a lot of the stigma has been lifted off
bipolar. They don't call it manic depression any more. They don't talk about loonies or, you know,
"Oh, Rex's wife..." You know, that sort of thing. So she was a trailblazer. And she won't like
this, but she's helped thousands of other people and now we're starting to understand it more.

It must have, inevitably, pushed you both to the brink, in terms of your relationship.

It did, but our love for each other and our respect for each other has kept us together. I'm sure
both of us, many times, would have said, "Wind all this up." But - it's a bit corny - Lynne and I
were meant to be with each other. We were meant to meet on that night in 1968 at the dance. We're
meant to be together and we'll be together forever. In sickness and in health and through
my...stupid acts.

Now, talking about stupid things you did, a couple of years ago it was you who came out and made a
statement paying for sex. And, I suppose, part of it... ..part of the reason why it was a sensation
was not just that it was you, but that you'd actually criticised others for similar sort of
indiscretions in life.

I'm sorry to disappoint your viewers, but that was then and this is now. It's something that I've
learnt from and I've had some fantastic lessons in life. You find out who your friends are. All I
have to ensure now is that my family understand that I love them more than anything else in the
world and that I've made a mistake. It's now time to move on.

When you reflect back on that, was that, for you, your darkest time?

It was my darkest time as an individual, 'cause I felt ashamed. because I felt that I'd let my
whole family down.

It's often said that things that don't destroy us make us stronger. Did you feel that about that

Yeah, I did. I hadn't killed anybody. I'd brought shame on myself and I'm...I'm the only one to
blame. Um...the love of my family got me through it and I'll never, ever...ever be able to thank
them enough. My fishing career on radio and television was dominated by my absolute hunger to be
the very, very best fisherman that I could be. I was fortunate enough to win 17 Victorian titles
and an Australian title. The Rex Hunt Future Fish Foundation was set up in October, 1999. It's
about getting kids fishing, getting kids to understand about the environment, making sure that
there's plenty of quality water for the fish to swim in and, also, putting fish into waterways so
kids can catch them. If, in 100 years' time, kids are kissing fish, I'll be pretty happy about it.
So, yeah, it's nice to think that I might have left my mark. As a young, fat kid at Parkdale, I
dreamed to be a broadcaster, I dreamed to be a fisherman. I've had a fantastic life and career in
football, fishing, broadcasting. And as I approach my seventh decade on this planet, I couldn't
have wished for it to go any better. Dreams do come true.

How would your parents see this, this life experience you've had?

Well, I hope they'd be looking down to say, "Is that a little boy from Parkdale "that we, you know,
that we knew?" I just get a bit sentimental because my father died at a very young age and didn't
see his grandchildren, but I reckon he'd be pretty happy about the way things have gone.

Rex, it's been great talking to you.

Peter, pleasure to be on your show and it's actually an honour. And thanks for the opportunity.

Thank you. Closed Captions by CSI

This program is not subtitled CC

Tonight, the controversial kangaroo cull gets under kangaroo cull gets under way at at Belconnen

It is appalling,

done it? The Leaked email fuelling Liberal tension

We all


We all spurt the policy. I support it because impart of the team.

China's three days earthquake victims and earthquake victims and a breakthrough that could mean the
beginning of the end of mulesing. Good evening. Craig Allen with ABC News - It has been on again u
again for the best part of year but the controversial cull hundreds of kangaroos hundreds of
kangaroos on Defence land in Canberra is finally under way. The cull was abandoned just six ago