Jeff Sparrow is a writer, broadcaster and activist. He's a former member of the International Socialist Organisation and was one of the founding members of the Socialist Alternative.
I've been wanting to talk to Jeff for a long time and really appreciate this chance to ask him about radical politics, Marxism, class, oppression, the widespread rejection of centrism and the matter of taking one's politics "seriously".
Cause of the Week: Triple R (rrr.org.au)
This week I'm bringing some highlights from a panel I chaired last week for Amnesty International Australia entitled Defending Human Rights In A Time Of Heightened Populism.
The panel included refugee rights advocates Andre Dao and Aran Mylvaganam, Indigenous lawyer Meena Singh and businesswoman and social activist Hana Assafiri. Claire Mallinson, the National Director of Amnesty Australia, was also on the panel, but unfortunately due to audio issues I haven't been able to include her here.
I thought this was a really enlightening discussion on the way that populist politics affects our conception of human rights and plays into public debate. We reflected on what does and doesn't work for human rights advocacy in the face of populism, the death of facts and reason, persuasive storytelling and the impact of the Murdoch media on this conversation.
Please bear with the audio: I guarantee you it's worth it.
Cause of the Week: Amnesty International Australia (amnesty.org.au)
Samantha Ratnam is a social worker and Greens politician who's currently serving as the Deputy Mayor of Moreland City Council. She's previously served as Mayor in Moreland and in 2016 ran as the Greens candidate for the federal seat of Wills, losing out to Labor MP Peter Khalil.
This is a great insight into local politics and why Sam's passionate about it, particularly its ability to inspire change by example. We also cover the situation in Sri Lanka and how that's informed Sam's attitude towards conflict and multiculturalism, how Australia's approach to race feels like it's going backwards and the future of the Australian Greens.
Julian Burnside AO QC is a barrister and refugee advocate who has acted in some of the highest profile legal cases in Australian history, from the cash for comment inquiry to the waterfront dispute to the Tampa affair.
For the past 16 years Julian has tirelessly spoken out about Australia's cruel immigration policies and has acted pro bono for refugees and people seeking asylum. He received the 2014 Sydney Peace Prize for "his brave and principled advocacy for human rights and for those wronged by government [and] for insisting that we respect our international legal obligations toward those seeking asylum".
I got to go to Julian's (freaking amazing) house and talk to him at length about the state of refugee rights in Australia today, why he's never run for office himself, how the MUA case changed the way he looked at governments, the arts, justice and evil.
Cause of the Week: The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (asrc.org.au)
Shireen Morris is the Constitutional Reform Advisor at Noel Pearson's Cape York Institute.
In the wake of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the Uluru Statement From The Heart, Shireen runs me through the history of constitutional recognition, what it means and how it might work moving forward. We cover symbolism, the political reaction to the Statement, what an Aboriginal Voice might look like, treaty and the tension between Indigenous land rights and environmental considerations.
I learnt a whole lot here because Shireen is fully heaps smart.
Cause of the Week: 1 Voice Uluru (1voiceuluru.org)
Jack Latimore is a Goori man of the Birpai nation. He's a journalist and researcher who covers indigenous affairs, media, culture and politics and his work has appeared in The Guardian, Indigenous X, Koori Mail, The Citizen, medium, SBS and Overland.
In the past week we've marked Sorry Day and the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and witnessed 300 Indigenous leaders gather in Uluru for a summit on what constitutional recognition for Australia's First Peoples might look like. Here I ask Jack what he made of the summit's Statement from the Heart, how recognition and/or treaty could work and media representations of Indigenous peoples, from First Contact to Stan Grant to Bill Leak's cartoons.
SAVE THE DATE: June 22nd for a charity gig for Refugee Legal at Howler Bar in Melbourne
John Safran is one of the most interesting writers/comedians/filmmakers/broadcasters/provocateurs/social commentators Australia has ever produced. He’s fascinated by issues surrounding religion and race and the Illuminati and he’s very funny when exploring them.
John’s latest book, Depends What You Mean By Extremist, sees him hanging out with far right extremists like the United Patriots Front and Reclaim Australia, Islamic fundamentalists and far left anarchists. It’s brilliant, challenging and very relevant to the INTENSE political moment we’re living through. Here John and I talk about patriotism, extremism, Australia’s reluctance to accept radicalism in any form and geese and ganders.
Cause of the Week: The Make A Wish Foundation (makeawish.org.au)
One of the biggest and best comedians in Australia, Wil Anderson is super funny, super smart and super nice. Wil is a world-renowned stand up, the host of the ABC hit Gruen, former host of weekly satire show The Glass House and serial podcaster. He's been thinking and telling jokes about the news for a long time and he's pretty bloody good at it.
This chat covers a lot of ground, from Wil's thoughts on the size of government to the state of journalism and the ABC to his approach to political comedy. We also eat some cheese and laugh about Mark Latham.
Gay and Bi men are being persecuted in Chechnya - you can help:
Cause of the week: UNHCR (unrefugees.org.au), support independent media please
Sara Saleh is a self-identifying "radical" poet and human rights activist. She works in refugee resettlement, is a GetUp! board member, co-founded the Dubai Poetry Slam and has worked with organisations like Amnesty International and WestWORDS.
At a time of heightened Islamophobic debate raging in the public sphere in Australia, Sara and I talk about what it's like to have your faith and community constantly being scrutinised and demonised by politicians and commentators. From the plight of Yassmin Abdel-Magied to Palestine to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the intersection of Islam and feminism, this is a really enlightening discussion about uncomfortable things.
Cause of the Week: GetUp! (getup.org.au)
Chris Berg is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs and a Postdoctoral Fellow at RMIT. He's passionate about civil liberties, defending freedom, shrinking the size of government and general libertarian good times.
Here Chris and I cover a lot: "ideology" not being a dirty word, the pitfalls of politics, the role of the State, prosecuting radical ideas, human flourishing, adapting to (rather than taxing) climate change, the Nanny State, partying in Amsterdam, why the Commonwealth Games are a rort and what he admires in the Left.
Cause of the Week: The Human Capital Project (humancapitalproject.com.au)
This guy is a gun. At just 22 years old, Tim Lo Surdo has advised federal senators and worked at everywhere from the Oaktree Foundation to the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition to UN Youth to the United Voice union.
He's now set up an advocacy group called Democracy in Colour: an advocacy group dedicated to combating racism in Australian politics. It's a fascinating project, and here Tim outlines his personal experiences of racism, the realities of racism and the politics of fear in Australia today, the Left's failures to combat such racism and how white allies can help (in the right way).
100 episodes, everyone! We bloody made it. Gosh.
Thanks so much for getting onboard with this little show. I love doing it and hope you get something out of each episode. I've learnt so much talking to all the guests on the show over the past two years and hope to keep doing it for as along as I can.
I can think of no better way to celebrate the century than with a live show at The Wheeler Centre with the national director of GetUp!, Paul Oosting.
In this chat, recorded in front of a "sold-out crowd" (it was free, but still - pretty cool) as part of the Centre's Invasion of the Pod People series on Monday March 27th, Paul and I discuss what GetUp! is all about and how things are looking for progressives in this country at the moment. From the far-right's influence on the government to 18C to campaign finance reform to the crucial difference between viewing the electorate as "disenfranchised" as opposed to "disengaged", this is a really interesting and relevant discussion for now.
PLUS we brainstorm about how to stop Dutton getting elected.
A big thanks to Paul for flying down from Sydney just for the show and Helen and everyone at The Wheeler Centre for their help in making this happen.
Here's to 100 more!
Cause of the Week: GetUp! (getup.org.au)
James Paterson has been a Victorian senator for the Liberal Party for just over a year now. He's been making a name for himself as a passionate advocate for freedom of speech in regards to the reforming of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and by proposing that Australia help deal with its debt problem by selling off Jackson Pollock's Blue Poles.
Here the Senator and I talk about our first meeting years ago, his position as something of a political anomaly within his own family, why he's so strident on 18C, racism, offshore detention and corporate tax cuts.
Cause of the Week: Soldier On (soldieron.org.au)
Daniel Webb is the Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre. He is a passionate voice for human rights and for treating people seeking asylum with dignity and humanity.
In this chat Daniel is so crystal clear about why he does what he does, why what we're doing to refugees is wrong, the alternatives that are out there for us and why it's vital that we as a country need to rethink our entire approach here. He also describes what it's actually like for the men being held on Manus Island at the moment and in particular tells me about Mehdi Savari, an Iranian refugee comedian who has been detained on that hellhole for more than three years.
Cause of the Week: The Human Rights Law Centre (hrlc.org.au)
Writer, feminist, sociologist, social commentator, activist and postage stamp honouree Eva Cox AO is a remarkable person. A Jewish refugee child, Eva has always been something of an outsider, agitating for change and asking tough questions her entire life.
In this wide-ranging, educational discussion, Eva sums up the philosophy of neoliberalism and argues the case for social capital. We discuss feminism, Islam, the shortcomings of the same-sex marriage movement, identity politics and the Universal Basic Income. I was inspired and educated by this chat; I hope you like it as much as I did.
Cause of the Week: FIND CAUSES AND IDEAS THAT ARE OPTIMISTIC OR THINK THEM UP YOURSELF
Fin Taylor is a British comedian who's making some fascinating politically-charged work at the moment. I saw his show Whitey McWhite Face at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and it lit a fire under my butt. He made me laugh and think and feel uncomfortable, and that's all good stuff.
Here we discuss his disillusionment with the Left, his journey to progressive centrism, class, Corbyn, Blair, Clegg, Islamism, white white white privilege/invisibility and political correctness.
Cause of the Week: The Euston Manifesto (eustonmanifesto.org)
Kate Ellis has been the Federal member for the seat of Adelaide since 2004. She was the youngest person ever appointed as a minister in the Australian government, holding a number of portfolios. She's currently the Shadow Minister for both Early Childhood Education and Development and for TAFE and Vocational Education.
This is a frank, funny and insightful discussion about Kate's career, the state of politics in this country right now and the changes she's seen over her 13 years in the job. We talk about everything from Islamophobia and dealing with Neo-Nazis to how Tony Abbott changed the dynamics of politics to the disappointments of the Labor leadership turmoil years. Kate reflects on the purpose of factions, the fracturing of the right side of politics and tells an extraordinary story about the bizarre issue that prompted the most vehement feedback she's ever received as a sitting member.
PLUS Kate helpfully sets out how she thinks we should talk about debt, early childcare and Labor's approach to offshore detention of people seeking asylum.
Cause of the Week: The Zahra Foundation (zahrafoundation.org.au)
Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore was elected as part of the Nick Xenophon Team in the 2016 election.
Now that she's 7 months in, she reflects on the job in all its glory and its frustrations. Skye talks about what it means to be in the "sensible centre", why she moved from political staffer to candidate, working with the likes of Cory Bernardi and Pauline Hanson, gambling reform, her views on offshore detention and the government's proposed visa lifetime ban for people seeking asylum and she even gives some tips about the best way to get your Senator's attention.
Cause of the Week: The Carly Ryan Foundation (carlyryanfoundation.com)
Comedian and Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng is back in Australia at the moment and gave me some of his time to talk about a whole many things. We covered offence, racism, interviewing white supremacists, freedom of speech, outrage, satire in the age of Trump and his conservative upbringing and disposition.
Oh, and my Nazi haircut. Apparently.
Apologies for the slightly not great audio quality on this one. Persevere, please: it's worth it. It's Ronny Chieng, for God's sake.
Make America Hate Again - Ronny's undecided voters piece
Cause of the Week: The CNN Freedom Project (cnn.com/freedom)
Let's talk about a little thing called democracy.
MiVote is a new political movement that launches next week and it's all about direct democracy. It's an online platform and political party that enables its members to directly influence their elected representatives: representatives that will be committed to enacting the people's (informed) will.
Founder Adam Jacoby kindly gave me a lot of time to talk through the idea and answer my annoying questions. He sets out just how fucked the system currently is and why he believes this might just work.
Cause of the Week: MiVote.org.au
Charlie Wood is the Campaigns Director at 350.org, an international climate action organisation that are fighting for a future that’s free from fossil fuels.
Here she describes where climate politics is at in these troubling times, how divestment is changing the game, climate scepticism, just how much the fossil fuel industry influences our politics, fear-mongering, how she manages to maintain hope. Charlie explains why Trump might actually be a good thing for the movement and whether or not, actually, for real, we (the human race) are fucked.
Cause of the Week: 350.org
Playwright, Black Comedy writer, tweeter and Aboriginal not-activist Nakkiah Lui joins me for a chat ahead of that ugly date, January 26th. Nakkiah reveals how she and her family mark Invasion Day and we discuss the merits of even having a national day at all.
We also touch on ideological diversity within Indigenous Australia, the "personal responsibility" narrative, deconstructing whiteness, the myth of multiculturalism, Bill Leak and the new TV series we're now going to pitch all over town, Blackfulla Mirror.
Cause of the Week: Butucarbin Aboriginal Corporation (butucarbin.org.au)
Lara Jeffery is the director of MyChoice Australia and describes herself as a right-wing libertarian. She's all about pushing back against the "nanny state", reducing the size of government and letting the free market do what it does.
Here we discuss how she came to this worldview and how that plays out in relation to education, healthcare, social justice, housing, smoking, the environment and more. We also cover the legacy of Ayn Rand, claiming the moral ground and Uber.
Cause of the Week: Students For Liberty Australia & New Zealand (studentsforliberty.org/anz)
Happy 2017 everyone!
Sally Goldner is the Executive Director of Transgender Victoria, the treasurer of the Bisexual Alliance Victoria and the first ever trans woman to be included on the Victorian Women's Honour Roll.
The Greens MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt joined me for the first ever live instalment of LIASYO.
Recorded in Collingwood on Sunday afternoon at the Easy Street Concert Hall in Collingwood, Melbourne, this discussion examines how Adam, the only Greens MP ever elected to the House of Representatives, is feeling at the end of what has been, largely, a shitty year for progressive causes.
An eternal optimist, Adam picks apart Turnbull's legacy, parliament's effectiveness, Trumpism, neoliberalism, the future of the Greens and how progressives can get better at winning. He even manages to find some good news in all of this.
AND he tells a great story about getting a voicemail from Tony Abbott. AND he tells us what he admires about Christopher Pyne.
This will be the final ep for the year, I'm going to have a break and cry more and drink beer and get sunburnt and think more about the revolution. Never fear: the show shall return in 2017. Thanks for everything, y'all.
Cause of the Week: Sea Shepherd Australia (seashepherd.org.au)