Neil Mitchell departure: Melbourne broadcaster’s final 3AW sign-off after explosive interview with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

A legendary talkback host has promised his loyal listeners it won’t be the last they’ll see or hear from as he departed morning radio.

Neil Mitchell signed off for 3AW the last time on Friday after 36 years, 34 of which spent as the host of the station’s morning timeslot.

The Melbourne broadcaster didn’t finish up quietly on his last day after clashing with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in a fiery interview.

A nostalgic Mitchell used his final 60 seconds on air to thank his family, staff, and his audience for making his time on the air a ‘privilege’ and said that he found the most pleasure in his work when he could help people.

The mulit-winning award journalist will now go on to host his own podcast and said that he plans on making routine appearances on TV and radio in the not-too-distant future. 

Neil Mitchell has signed off for the last time after 36 years on the air, 34 of which he spent as the host of 3AW’s morning timeslot

Mr Mitchell said that his time at 3AW had seen its fair share of ups and downs and that he would hate to work for himself but that it was the highlight of his life. 

‘It’s been a bit of fun at times, been sad at times, it’s been difficult, but there’s one thing that’s always driving me: it’s you, the audience,’ he said. 

‘I’m not comfortable with fame, I’m not comfortable with praise [but] my trip has been overwhelmingly positive and we achieved a lot, we got some answers.

‘And I got banned by a brace of politicians on both sides, and that shows how weak they are if they couldn’t handle me.’

The controversial broadcaster paid special tribute to his wife, who quit working  to look after their two children, Kel and Cam so that he could focus on his career.

The iconic broadcaster spent 36 years at 3AW. He's pictured in his early days at the station

The iconic broadcaster spent 36 years at 3AW. He’s pictured in his early days at the station

Mitchell also discussed his ethos as a journalist and took pride in the fact that he never sold out or recorded advertisements for a quick paycheck. 

‘That’s always been my journalistic philosophy: You don’t have a microphone or a camera or a newspaper for your own self-indulgence, you have access to an audience because you work for that audience. 

‘You represent them, you give them a voice, you give them answers when they deserve them. 

‘Unless it’s Victoria and you get banned, you give them a chance to be part of a wider process.’

He also retold the tale of how he famously campaigned the Victorian government to refund $26 million in dodgy speeding fines after he exposed a slew of faulty speeding cameras in Victoria. 

‘We fixed problems for people that didn’t have a voice,’ he said.   

‘I’m delighted with the time I’ve had, you really have given me 36 years of a life that I could not have expected in my wildest dreams, so like me or loathe me, thank you for listening.

‘Thank you for talking, thank you for caring, thank you for trusting, thank you for having a go and helping us to have a go, thank you for being there. Take care.’

It won't be the last time we'll see or see from Neil Mitchell, the iconic broadcaster promised

It won’t be the last time we’ll see or see from Neil Mitchell, the iconic broadcaster promised

Mitchell announced his retirement on September 1 which set off a major reshuffle in the broadcast booths.

Drive host Tom Elliott will replace Mitchell in the breakfast timeslot in 2024.

‘It’s (been) a great privilege. I’ve been there forever,’ Mitchell told the Today show shortly before before his last show on air.

‘But I’m a bit bemused by the amount of attention quite seriously. I’m never comfortable with it. I’ve done TV, radio and newspaper interviews and I am just a bloke who has a microphone.

‘There is nothing special about any of us. The power of us is the microphone. I’m bemused and embarrassed by it but comfortable with what I’m doing next.’

Mitchell spent his final day on the 3AW airwaves boldly pushing back on a testy Mr Albanese who refused to apologise on behalf of two of his top ministers who accused Mr Dutton of ‘protecting peadophiles’.

Neil Mitchell (pictured) didnt go easy on the Prime Minister on his final day on air

Neil Mitchell (pictured) didnt go easy on the Prime Minister on his final day on air

Embattled Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil in parliament this week tried to lay blame on Mr Dutton, her Liberal predecessor in the job, over the government’s asylum seeker debacle claiming the ‘mess’ originated under him.

Ms O’Neil claimed Mr Dutton had voted to protect paedophiles over children and Minister for Sport Anika Wells repeated the claim on morning TV the following day. 

Mr Dutton, a former Queensland Police detective, said it showed the government was getting desperate, adding that he had ‘arrested sex offenders before’. 

When grilled by Mitchell, Mr Albanese refused to apologise to Mr Dutton sparking a heated clash. 

‘Neil, this opposition leader has a record – and go back and look at the front page stories accusing us of a range of things – it is Peter Dutton,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘But you’ve said you are better than that,’ Mitchell interjected.

‘That’s right,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘Is there an apology there?’ Mitchell asked.

‘Well I. Hang on. Hang on. Ask me about things I’ve done, and I’ll be happy to be accountable for them,’ Mr Albanese replied.

‘I stand by the fact that my ministers have been doing everything they can to protect community safety. And Peter Dutton from day one has been focused on just politics,’ Mr Albanese said.

‘You can solve it all here just by making that point and apologising,’ Mitchell it back.