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In an emotional on-air message to her loyal viewership, Leigh Sales has announced she will be stepping down from her role hosting the ABC’s 7.30 after the next federal election.

The veteran journalist has anchored the current affairs program for 12 years, and said she believes it’s time to “pass the baton” to the next reporter to fill the role.

Leigh shared some of her favourite memories in her announcement, such as interviewing Paul McCartney, and talking with Matthew Lowe: a widow who lost his wife in the 2016 Dreamworld accident.

Through all her interviews will high-profile political figures, Leigh said she interviewed them in a way that any ordinary Australian would talk to their government members if given the chance.

She said, “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.”

Upon her shock announcement, online speculation into who would replace Sales was rife with suggestions.

Many are calling for ABC’s political reporter Laura Tingle to take up the job, with a belief that another powerful woman should be the one to fill the position.

Others online have said they would also put forward ABC News journalist Jeremy Fernandez for the job, as well as throwing One Plus One host Stan Grant’s name in the mix.

Leigh has said she will stay in the 7.30 chair until the upcoming federal election, which has yet to be officially called.

Image: ABC – 7.30

This article first appeared on OverSixty.