Gay Alcorn has been a journalist for over 25 years. She's been a Washington correspondent, edited The Sunday Age, won three Walkley Awards and is now the Melbourne editor for Guardian Australia.
I wanted to talk with Gay about a whole many things (we began by talking about this week's 4Corners report on the refugee children of Nauru and the roles and biases of journalism), but the bulk of our chat became focussed on the notion of "political correctness": the nature of our public discourse, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, identity politics and cultural appropriation.
Gay describes herself as a progressive person but is a staunch advocate of the freedom of speech and has concerns about the way we go about talking with each other. Is it now longer possible for us to "reasonably disagree"?
This piece by Gay on PC is the basic starting point for our chat, I'd recommend reading that first before listening here. We also got on to Lionel Shriver's speech at the Brisbane Writer's Festival and the ensuing furore; this will also be the focus of next week's episode with Yassmin Abdel-Magied.
TIME TO MEET ANOTHER HERO, EVERYONE! Shen Narayanasamy is the Human Rights Campaign Director at GetUp!. She's an outspoken activist for refugee and migrant rights who is seriously shaking shit up at the moment and she was nice enough to explain to me why (and how) she's doing it.
From her Di Gribble address on "The Great Immigration Con" to taking on the private companies that are complicit in human rights abuses through the operation of offshore detention centres to the task of defeating the philosophy behind the "detention regime" in its totality, I reckon this is a really illuminating and (mildly) hopeful discussion.
Cause of the Week: No Business In Abuse (nobusinessinabuse.org)
He used to co-host Australian Idol but this year James Mathison ran against former prime minister Tony Abbott for the federal seat of Waringah as an independent.
In this chat James explains why he decided to run, his frustrations with the current political deadlock in Australia, the limitations of election campaigns and his predictions of a new progressive movement on the horizon.
Plus he shamelessly advertises Coke.
Cause of the Week: Barnados (barnados.org.au)
22-year-old student Brendan Busch is angry and frustrated about Australian racism and denial, particularly in relation to First Nations peoples.
He's spoken out against Andrew Bolt receiving a platform at the 2016 Festival of Dangerous Ideas and garnered some media attention last month when he offered to give away his Falls Festival ticket to anyone who could prove they had convinced radio station triple j to change the date of their massive annual song countdown, the Hottest 100, from "Australia Day" on January 26th.
Here Brendan (eloquently) explains his thinking and the ideas behind the #changethedate movement, reacts to the subsequent response from triple j and the public and discusses the murky distinctions between the expression of "challenging views" and hate speech, holding our public institutions to account and how we balance the importance of calling out racism with the goal of actually changing people's minds.
Comedian Josie Long makes me feel better about the world. She is a ball of delightful, charming and passionate energy whose comedy is hilarious and socially conscious and life-affirming.
In this chat, recorded backstage at the lovely Soho Theatre, Josie and I chat about how she became more politically active, the trickiness of “helping” in the right way, the UK Labour leadership, austerity, art, privilege and voting for what you believe in.
Plus a few Kurt Vonnegut quotes for good measure.
Cause of the Week: Arts Emergency (arts-emergency.org)
Backstage at the Soho Theatre I got to sit down with journalist Johann Hari to discuss how the media corrupts our public debate, Australian television and his powerful book, Chasing the Scream: The First & Last Days of the Drug War.
What is addiction? Why is the drug war still continuing? What is it costing us? Is there a better way?
Cause of the Week: Unharm (unharm.org)
Finally! An actual new ep!
And what an ep it is. Comedian, writer and broadcaster Nish Kumar hosts topical comedy show Newsjack on the BBC and has been twice nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award. He writes very smart, politically charged comedy and his laugh is glorious to behold.
Here Nish and I discuss the current "spicy meatball" of a political period the UK is experiencing. From the concept of "right-wing comedy" to post-Brexit xenophobia to Jeremy Corbyn to Jo Cox to Trump to Hanson, this has got everything you've been craving.
Cause of the Week: We Love Immigration: A Comedy Night for Migrant Rights Network, Help Refugees UK (helprefugees.org.uk)
Just a small message to say that this podcast is still happening and everything, I just got distracted and tired and drunk at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sorry lol.
New episodes coming soon!
In a week of Sonia Kruger and Pauline Hanson nonsense, let's talk to someone who's actually doing something GOOD for immigrants and refugees and people of colour.
David Manne is a human rights lawyer and the Executive Director of Refugee Legal (formerly the Refugee Immigration Legal Centre or RILC). He's passionate about helping people who ask our country for - and are deserving of - legal protection.
David gave me the lowdown on the Australian refugee crisis as he sees it: where we're at, what laws we're breaking, just how generous we are and what should (and can) happen next - an immediate evacuation of people languishing in our offshore detention centres.
Cause of the Week: Refugee Legal (rilc.org.au)
It's episode 69 so let's talk about LOVE.
Writer and philosopher Alain de Botton is in the country to promote his (brilliant) new book The Course of Love: an exploration of the confusing ideas romanticism serves up for us. He thinks love is a serious matter indeed and one worth examining closely, and in this chat we talk about its effects, its position in our hard-wiring and its many forms.
Also, in the wake of Brexit and Trump, Alain reflects on how emotional intelligence might better inform our public debate.
How about that election, hey?!?!?!?!
As the votes continue to be counted and we all wait to see what happens next, half of the brilliant Something Wonky podcast Jeremy Sear joined me to discuss what it all means. He told me how he came to be a progressive person, negative gearing, tax cuts, Hanson, the plebiscite, humanising politicians and a whole new way of thinking about our electoral system. Good times!
Cause of the Week: Refugee Legal (rilc.org.au)
I’m back! And the election is upon us! Before the big day, I sat down with Jason Ball, the Greens candidate for the seat of Higgins. Some polling suggests the Liberal Party’s primary vote has fallen sharply and the blue ribbon seat could change hands on Saturday, which would be, to put it mildly, fucking remarkable.
Here Jason explains why he thinks he could be in with a shot, what it’s like to be involved in such a campaign, how progressive Australia really is, homophobia in the AFL and in wider society, some of his run-ins with potential voters and whether he’d actually be ready to be an MP if he actually wins.
Please vote good and proper! Head to aec.gov.au for all the info about the election
Cause of the Week: beyondblue (beyondblue.org.au)
Sami Shah is a comedian who just so happens to be an ex-Muslim atheist "militant leftist". Raised in conservative Karachi, Pakistan, and now living in Melbourne (after 5 years living in regional WA), Sami has appeared on QI and Australian Story and regularly performs stand-up all across the country.
Here Sami explains how a book made him a revolutionary and discusses Pakistani politics, the difficulties in criticising Islam and the failures of the refugee rights movement in Australia.
Cause of the Week: Edhi Foundation (edhi.org)
Eva Orner is an Academy Award-winning documentarian who is exposing Australia's shameful offshore detention regime with her new film Chasing Asylum. The documentary features never-before-seen footage from inside the camps on Nauru and Manus Island and brave whistleblowers speaking out about the horrific things they've witnessed.
I've seen it and (unsurprisingly) it made me cry and it made me even more furious.
Here Eva details her motivation to make work that speaks to power, torture, her frustrations with the refugee debate in Australia, the parallels between the persecution of Jews under Nazi Germany and Australia's detention system today, government secrecy and what might just help change the conversation.
Cause of the Week: Go see "Chasing Asylum"!
Edward Bourke is a 15-year-old right-wing conservative who loves the monarchy, Margaret Thatcher and Donald Trump.
In fact, he loves Trump so much he’s launched The Trump Campaign to support the billionaire’s presidential bid and has been interviewed by Vice, Sunrise and news.com.au – and now me. In this lively discussion, Edward and I cover class, immigration, the importance of morals, Indigenous Australians and why he finds The Donald so appealing.
Despite all our disagreements, I really couldn’t help but find myself quite liking the guy. See what you reckon.
Cause of the Week: Saving the Lion (savingthelion.org)
Rebecca Shaw is a writer, podcaster and twitterer extraordinaire. You may know her best as Brocklesnitch or have chuckled at her parody twitter account, @NoToFeminism (a book is on the way). She writes satire and opinion for SBS Comedy and Guardian Australia.
Bec makes me laugh a lot throughout this chat as we discuss the purpose of satire, queerphobia in country Queensland, feminism and the kind of feedback you can expect if you're a woman who dares to express her opinion on the internet. Oh also bad tattoos.
First Dog On The Moon is a dog and a Walkley award-winning cartoonist. His work has appeared in Crikey and now Guardian Australia and it is funny and silly and dog-based and sad and great.
Here Dog and I discuss the origins of his work, the importance of being a good political hater, the problems with empathy, his horrible lefty family, civil disobedience penguins, brussels sprouts and mountain chicken frogs.
Cause of the week: Oscar’s Law (oscarslaw.org)
Writer, engineer, former political candidate and now pollster Osman Faruqi has written for Guardian Australia, Junkee and SBS and regularly tweets like a mofo. He's the son of Mehreen Faruqi, the first female Muslim to be elected to any Australian parliament (for the Greens, no less) and has recently launched his own polling site, Metapoll, dubbed "the most reliable poll ever".
Here Osman tells me how he and his mum first became engaged with politics, the dire state of climate politics in Australia today,the lack of diversity in the Greens and the ALMIGHTY POWER OF THE POLLS.
Cause of the Week: The Refugee Advice & CaseworkService (racs.org.au)
Ben Eltham is the National Affairs Correspondent for New Matilda, the Industry Columnist for Arts Hub and has written for Guardian Australia, the ABC's The Drum, Crikey and many other outlets. He's a Research Fellow at Deakin University's Faculty of Arts and Education and a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development.
Basically, he's a major smarty-pants.
Ben's very, very good at explaining things and in this chat he kindly took the time to explain to me what the hell negative gearing is and what it means for Australia's housing crisis. We also discuss the myth of a "classless Australia", tax dodging, neoliberalism, the government's attacks on the arts and how the 2016 election is shaping up.
Cause of the Week: Alzeihmer's Australia (fightdementia.org.au)
Nayuka Gorrie is a Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman who's passionate about progress for Indigenous Australians.
After reading her piece for Vice entitled Fuck Your Constitutional Recognition, I Want A Treaty, I scurried into her (beautiful) bedroom (with her permission) to talk about the problematic nature of recognition, the echoing trauma of the Stolen Generation, white Australia's denialism, what an Indigenous treaty might look like and, of course, Andrew Bolt.
Journalist, anthropologist and broadcaster Sally Warhaft is a former editor of The Monthly, host of The Wheeler Centre's Fifth Estate podcast and mother to one-year-old twins.
In this wide-ranging chat, Sally diagnoses the current state of Australian politics, laments the lack of great political oratory today, explains why Malcolm Turnbull is politically "rooted", shares her thoughts on the cruelty of the death penalty and her friendship with Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and gives me a bit of an insight into anthropology.
Cause of the Week: Reprieve Australia (reprieve.org.au)
YES I KNOW IT'S BEEN QUITE A WHILE I'VE BEEN VERY BUSY SORRY LOL.
The good news is this episode is well worth the wait. Simon Hunt is a political satirist, film maker, lecturer, sound designer, musician and activist who's best known for his creation "Pauline Pantsdown" - a hugely popular and scathing parody of the One Nation politician Pauline Hanson.
In this extraordinary chat (recorded on the day of Mardi Gras 2016), Simon recounts his experiences of growing up gay in NSW in the 80s and explains his his fascination with religious right-wingers like Fred Nile and Anita Bryant, his politicisation in the face of the AIDS crisis, how he came to create Pantsdown and what Hanson says about us as a country today. Plus he's got some stories that are fucking funny.
Cause of the Week: minus18 (minus18.org.au)
Yes, he is the nerdy one with the glasses and the guitar from Tripod, but Scott "Scod" Edgar is also a politically-conscious clever-clogs who just so happens to be directing my upcoming show about Australia and refugees, Boundless Plains To Share.
I'm a huge fan of Scod's - Tripod were a huge inspiration for me getting into comedy in the first place - so working with him has been an absolute privilege. Here we talk about the history of Trades Hall (our venue and rehearsal space), how Scod's education shaped his worldview, the politics of the live music scene and what motivated him to explore this debate by working on this show.
Cause of the Week: 350.org
Since 2011, Jay Weatherill has served as the premier of South Australia - a state where the Labor Party has been in power for the past 14 years.
He's been attracting some headlines over the past few months as he's spoken out in favour of raising the GST and offered his state as sanctuary for vulnerable people seeking asylum who are in danger of being returned to Nauru.
I was allowed into the Premier's (very nice) office to discuss what his thinking was here, as well as his journey into politics (as inspired by his father George), the number of lawyers in our parliaments, cynicism, the political history of SA, making submarines, the Bulmer-Rizi case and marriage equality and how he sees 2016 turning out.
Cause of the Week: Catherine House (catherinehouse.org.au)
I saw Irish comedian Aidan Killian performing at the Adelaide Fringe and knew that he'd be good value for a chat.
The former Bear Stearns investment banker is currently touring The Holy Trinity of Whistleblowers around Australia and the world and sat down to tell me about his karate his experience, why he opposed marriage equality, why he doesn't vote, his attraction to conspiracy theories and why Assange, Snowden and Manning matter.
Cause of the Week: Wikileaks (wikileaks.org)