Leigh Sales announced on Thursday night she would be finishing up with the ABC's 7:30 after the federal election later this year, with the journalist saying she wanted to be able to spend more time with her young sons.
The veteran host has been working on the show since 2010 and shared that she wanted viewers to hear the news from her personally.
"There's nothing wrong, other than I just feel a strong sense of it being time to pass the baton to the next runner in the race and to take a break," she explained to viewers.
"At the end of an election cycle feels like a good time to move on to something new at the ABC. I hope it's been obvious that I've always approached this job with one goal – and that is to ask frank questions of people in power, without fear or favour, that a fair-minded, reasonable person with some common sense watching at home might like to ask if they were sitting in my position."
She continued: "I've tried to shut down and call out bulls**t, hold powerful people to account, expose lies, incompetence and exaggeration in all political parties and all issues and present facts even when they're unpopular or inconvenient."
"I have truly tried my absolute hardest on behalf of you at home to do that every single time I've sat at the desk. Anchoring 7.30 has been the most amazing job and I'll never stop being grateful for the opportunities it's given me."
Leigh shared some of her favourite moments from her time hosting the show, including interviewing five prime ministers as well as celebrities such as Paul McCartney.
The interview that stood out to her the most, however, was with Matthew Lowe, who lost his wife in the 2016 Dreamworld accident.
"Every time you interview somebody whose life has been devastated you feel terrified by what life has dished up to them and incredibly humbled by how they met it with strength and clarity and dignity and you just don't forget it," she said.
It's been rumoured that Leigh's successor will be Insiders host David Speers or Laura Tingle, who is currently the chief political correspondent on the show and a viewer favourite.
And while many social media users, including Australian media personalities and politicians, shared praise for the journalist, some were quick to criticise the host.
"Leigh Sales is a formidable interviewer," Tanya Plibersek wrote. "Smart, thoughtful, and unflinching in her pursuit of the truth. You always need to be prepared when you’re opposite Leigh. Thank you @leighsales for so many years of top-quality journalism. All the best for what comes next."
"The best in the biz," David Speers added. "What an extraordinary contribution you’ve made @leighsales. A fearless journo & formidable interviewer. Thank you for always being such a great sounding board & source of advice. Can’t wait to see what you do next!"
"This is going to take a little while for @abc730 colleagues to process. @leighsales you are a class act, the most supportive of colleagues and a bloody great journo," Laura Tingle wrote. "As one of a handful of people who has had the remotest glimpse of what the job involves I am in awe #12years."
"Rarely does a great journo make a great anchor or vice versa," one user wrote. "You’re a member of a very small club Leigh. Congratulations."
"It’s been a joy to watch you on the show and I look forward to seeing what’s next for you, congratulations," another said.
"As a Victorian, I say hear, hear," one Twitter user wrote, sharing they were happy to see Leigh leave. "Thank god she’s leaving. Her performance during the pandemic has been biased and woeful."
Trolls took to Twitter to slam the host, writing a stream of mean comments.
Others defended Leigh, with one user writing: "Some comments here are simply not nice and totally unnecessary. Leigh Sales has worked exceptionally hard on this show since 2010. Why not just say thanks and best wishes?"
Another added: "Show some grace with the replies, Twitter... regardless of your opinion."
Social media users have been campaigning for Laura to be hired as the 7:30 host for some time.
Laura dismissed the calls for her to take over the reins, responding to one Twitter user last month with, "Thanks, but no you don't. My day job is funner. And I am in awe of what Leigh Sales does day after day amongst quite a horrible environment of social media sh*t."
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