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Australia: Lawrence Mooney, Triple M: Host demands $1million payout after sacking

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Former Triple M Sydney host Lawrence Mooney is seeking a seven-figure payout from Southern Cross Austereo, accusing his former employer of 'breach of contract' after the radio network sacked him earlier this month.

Mooney, 56, still had more than a year to go on his contract with SCA when he was axed from the Moonman in the Morning breakfast show on November 15.

His lawyers lodged a statement of claim in the NSW Supreme Court last Monday and it's believed the comedian is chasing 'no less than $1million' in damages, reports The Australian's Media Diary.

This figure could grow even bigger when other aspects of Mooney's deal with SCA are taken into consideration, including performance bonuses, and when both sides' legal fees are accounted for.

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Mooney is being represented by high-profile employment lawyer John Laxon of Sydney firm Laxon Lex Lawyers.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Laxon Lex and Triple M for comment.

Mr Laxon previously said his client would be holding SCA to the agreed-upon terms of his contract.

'My client has a contract which runs through to the end of next year, which SCA has brought to an end,' the lawyer said two weeks ago.

'The terms of that contract were drafted by SCA and were bargained for and agreed to by my client. He will hold SCA to those terms.

'All my client asks is that SCA honour the contract and observe the contractual arrangements which they put in place.'

Mooney was hired in early 2019 to host the Moonman in the Morning breakfast show alongside Jess Eva and Chris 'Pagey' Page.

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His contract, believed to be worth $2million per year, was set to expire in 2022.

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An SCA spokesperson said in a terse statement on November 15: 'SCA thanks Mooney for his contribution to the Triple M Network over the past five years.'

His exit came two weeks after he vanished from the airwaves without explanation, and amid rumours of a 'major' falling out with co-host Eva.

The radio program has since changed its name to Triple M Breakfast with MG, Jess & Pagey, with 'MG' referring to incoming host Mark 'MG' Geyer.

When contacted by Daily Mail Australia on the day of his sacking, Mooney said, 'Please don't call again,' then hung up the phone.

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford said an 'internal' issue had led to Mooney's sudden departure.

'My information - which is very well-placed - says to me that it was an internal, off-air workplace issue that has led to this disappearance,' he said on The Morning Show.

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Mooney left the radio station a week after sources told Daily Mail Australia he was set to lose his contract at Triple M 'imminently'.

He had apparently caused issues at the station in recent months, after clashing with several staff members including Eva.

Network executives were also said to be struggling to justify his rumoured $2million paycheck given the program's meagre ratings.

Mooney was hired to host Moonman in the Morning in January 2019 on a $750,000 salary, which was boosted to between $1.5million and $2million for 2020 and 2021.

He had previously fronted Triple M Brisbane's breakfast show from 2016 to 2018.

Since its launch, Moonman in the Morning struggled to contend with other FM breakfast shows, earning a 4.6 per cent market share in the latest radio survey.

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The show peaked at a 6.9 per cent market share when it debuted in 2019 after taking over The Grill Team, which ended its nine-year run with a 5.4 per cent share at the end of 2018.

Moonman in the Morning never reached the heights of its predecessor, which routinely pulled in shares over seven per cent in its heyday.

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The Grill Team was hosted by former rugby league player Matty Johns, who quit the station in November 2018 to concentrate on his television career.

In contrast, KIIS 106.5's market leader The Kyle and Jackie O Show soared in the latest ratings with a 10.7 per cent share.

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Listeners had been puzzled by Mooney's disappearing act for the two weeks before his formal exit.

Triple M hadn't offered any explanation for his absence, with a spokesperson simply saying: 'Lawrence Mooney is currently off air.'

Several meetings were held between Southern Cross Austereo and Mooney's management in the week after he vanished off air.

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