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)
Nayuka Gorrie returns to unpack Episode 2 of First Contact with me. It's bloody tough going as the episode looks at overcrowded housing and poverty in the NT town of Elliott and survivors of the Stolen Generation.
What does the airing of this show actually mean for Indigenous Australians? Why do some react to the stories of the Stolen Generation with blatant denialism? How can non-Indigenous people (try to) be better allies?
Cause of the Week: Indigenous Literacy Foundation (indigenousliteracyfoundation.org.au)
Episode 1 of First Contact has arrived.
The kind Nayuka Gorrie joined me for a viewing of the show and to share her thoughts. We discuss #DefineAboriginal, the difficulty in making a show like this and the issues and attitudes it exposes.
Jamila Rizvi is a writer, commentator, former Labor staffer and political junkie. She was raised in Canberra by her immigrant public service parents, joined the Labor Party at 18 and has worked for the Rudd and Gillard governments.
On the dancefloor at Mardi Gras this year, I met Tim Rosenberger. He is a gay, conservative, Republican law grad from Ohio. And he has supported Donald Trump's candidacy for President of the United States. That candidacy was successful. And now we're here.
Here I have a lengthy chat with Tim via Skype about why he thinks Trump and Pence will be good for LGBTIQ+ Americans, racial politics, "pussy-gate", the electoral college, Clinton, climate change PC, identity politics and much more. I listened. It was hard and frustrating. But useful. I hope. #MAGA
In these times of uncertainty and fear, I speak to my mum and dad.
Neil and Judy tell me about their political beliefs, the changes they've seen in their lifetime, what they make of the election of Donald Trump and how they think progressive change can happen.
I learnt and laughed a lot. I hope you enjoy it.
Cause of the Week: Amnesty International (amnesty.org.au)
It happened. Donald J. Trump is going to be the next President of the United States.
I am very sad.
I don't know about you, but I want to help. I want to make things better.
Support queer rights by donating to allout.org
Support refugees by donating to UNHCR Australia
Support the fight against climate change by donating to 350.org
Support gender equality by donating to Emily's List Australia
Nur Warsame is Australia's first openly gay imam.
He's an incredible man with a fascinating story that I think is really important to hear. If you're like me and want to call out and stand up against any religious bigotry towards queer people BUT you also don't want to pile on to the current shitstorm of Islamophobia that's swirling around this country at the moment, there's a lot to be learnt here from Nur. Here we discuss his journey to coming out publicly, what that decision has cost him, how he reconciles his faith with his sexuality and how we can have better conversations about critiquing Islam and certain oppressive cultural attitudes.
Cause of the Week: Marhaba (@marhaba_Melb)
Activist, writer, engineer, motoring enthusiast and outspoken young Muslim woman of colour Yassmin Abdel-Magied is kicking arse on multiple levels right now and I felt very lucky indeed to have this opportunity to chat with her.
Earlier this year, Yassmin sparked a large controversy in the literary world when she walked out on author Lionel Shriver's speech on cultural appropriation at the Brisbane Writers Festival. Here she reflects on that experience and further explores her thoughts on why an awareness of what cultural appropriation is and how it works is important.
Last week's guest Gay Alcorn had a different take on this subject; you can listen back to that episode here.
Cause of the Week: Mumtaza (mumtaza.agency)
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)
Brad Chilcott is a highly-principled pragmatist. A progressive pastor, political activist and founder of super-cool outfit Welcome To Australia, I've come to know Brad over the last couple of years and find him to be an extremely inspiring dude.
Here we have a big fat yarn about how his faith has informed his life and his activism, what he's learnt from his son Harrison's battles with ill health, the luxury of dismissing things as "politics", his criticisms of the progressive left and the story of and idea behind WTA.
Cause of the Week: Food 4 Education (food4education.org)
You probably know Corinne Grant best from her comedic work on Rove, skitHOUSE or The Glass House. She’s been passionate about social justice and politics all her life but has recently made the decision to get her law degree and get her hands dirty for what she believes in.
Here we discuss Sophie Mirabella, unions, how she tried (and failed) to marry her comedy with her politics, the Glass House and ABC bias, the disappointments of Labor, writing speeches for Julia Gillard, Australians and their apathy and refugee rights. We also reflected on a difference of opinion we had a few years ago surrounding gay male comedians and misogyny.
Here’s another guest I managed to snag whilst in Perth: 17-year-old (!!!) writer and visual artist Somayra Ismailjee.
Somayra is of Karen, Gujarati and Kashmiri heritage and has written for Right Now, New Matilda, Media Diversified, Junkee and many other publications on matters of race, political correctness, Islamaphobia, queer rights and Charlie Hebdo. Here we cover everything from Coldplay and cultural appropriation to the power of the UPF in Perth to trigger warnings and orientalism and Somayra was even kind enough to teach me a new word.
Episode 50 you guys!
Senator Scott Ludlam is a Greens Senator for Western Australia. He’s co-deputy leader for the party and its spokesperson for issues such as communications, housing, mining and nuclear power.
Whilst in Perth I chatted with Scott about everything from DJing to his viral hit speech to the cult of personality to his journey into politics to why he’s a “Senate nerd”. Plus the issues that drive his passions: nuclear disarmament, digital rights, Julian Assange, our shitty foreign policies, the TPP, the NBN and the possibility of a Greens government.
January 26th is upon us again!
To reflect on the issues of blind nationalism and patriotism that Australia/Invasion/Survival Day (of Mourning) throws up, here's a slice of Stan Grant's speech on racism and my conversation with artist Jim Coad, the man behind the Castlemaine civil event named "Chuck another flag on the barbie?".
Cause of the Week: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (asrc.org.au)
Mohammad Ali Baqiri is a former refugee who came to Australia by sea as a child. He spent three years in Australian immigration detention on Nauru.
Here he kindly shares his story with me and explains what it's really like to be a "boat person".
Cause of the Week: Road to Refuge (roadtorefuge.com)
Fiona Patten is a former lobbyist for the sex industry, she's the founder and leader of the Australian Sex Party and she was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in 2014 as the member for the Northern Metropolitan Region.
Fiona is passionate about civil liberties and honest conversations about everything from sex to drugs to voluntary euthanasia. We had a great ol' time talking and laughing about sex work (and her personal experience with it), porn, the history of Fyshwick, abortion clinic buffer zones and more.
Cause of the Week: Harm Reduction Victoria (hrvic.org.au)
Paul Farrell is a Guardian Australia journalist who writes about juicy stuff like national security, privacy and immigration. He’s concerned with what our government does and doesn’t let us know.
In this conversation Paul and I discuss Freedom Of Information, data retention, whistle-blowing, what’s happening inside Australia’s detention centres and the shocking truth behind Channel Nine’s Border Security.
Cause of the Week: Open Australia Foundation (openaustraliafoundation.org.au)
James Fry is a writer whose debut novel, That Fry Boy, tells the story of his journey from a normal happy childhood to a violent white supremacist (and back again).
James kindly shared his story with me and we discuss what lessons it might hold for the current conversation about the radicalisation of young men by Muslim extremists.
Cause of the Week: Medicine Sans Frontier (msf.org.au)
My chat with the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby continues.
Things get heated as Lyle and I discuss the ACL's objections to the Safe Schools program and how we educate young people about sexual and gender diversity.
Cause of the Week: Alliance for Gambling Reform (pokiesplayyou.org.au)
Here's a quick taste of the in-depth radio investigation I put together for ABC Radio National.
In the mid-1990s, the US Air Force considered investing $7.5 million in the development of a 'Gay Bomb'—a chemical weapon designed to alter the enemy's sexual orientation.
When out-and-proud comedian Tom Ballard saw this story being referenced on one of his favourite TV shows, he thought it was hilarious. When he found out that it actually happened, he was gobsmacked.
So Tom decides to do some digging… and finds out a lot more than he bargained for.
After finally receiving security clearance from the very highest echelons of the American military, he can now officially bring you this unbelievable story: a story of political intrigue, secrets, betrayal, death and sex; a story that proves once and for all that truth is always stranger than fiction.
Merry Christmas everyone! To remind us all of the reason for the season, who better to talk to than the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton.
The ACL is a significant political force in Australian politics and Lyle and his team are active and determined about advocating on public policy issues from a faith perspective, from life issues to same-sex marriage to Australia's treatment of refugees.
In the first part of this polite but passionate conversation, Lyle and I discussed the role faith should play in politics, evidence, reason, marriage, parenting and gender.
Cause of the Week: ChilOut Sydney fundraiser at Giant Dwarf Theatre
Activist Ali Hogg is the Victorian convenor of national marriage equality campaign Equal Love. She's proudly radically progressive and she's been leading the call for same-sex marriage in Australia for over a decade.
In this chat Ali talked me through her progressive upbringing, her personal experiences with homophobia, the Socialist Alternative, the next steps in the equal marriage debate, the ethics of protest and that time she charged into a restaurant on Lygon Street to confront former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Cause of the Week: Equal Love (equallove.info)
David Marr is a self-described "bourgeois do-gooder". He's written for Fairfax Media, The Monthly, The Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia, appeared on Q&A, The Drum and Insiders and is the author of multiple in-depth profiles for the Quarterly Essay.
In this second part of our chat, I ask David to outline the complex and bleak politics surrounding our policies towards refugees. Why are we so terrified of the boats? Why do our politicians stoke those fears? Is there any possibility of a solution?
Cause of the Week: Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org)
Respected journalist and MORTAL ENEMY OF GERARD HENDERSON (not really), David Marr is a self-described "bourgeois do-gooder". He's written for Fairfax Media, The Monthly, The Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia, appeared on Q&A, The Drum and Insiders and is the author of multiple in-depth profiles for the Quarterly Essay.
In this first part of our conversation, David tells me about who Bill Shorten is, Labor and the unions, why Australia is so late to progress, drugs, conservatism and right-wing commentators. Hot dang!
Cause of the Week: Maternity Worldwide (maternityworldwide.org)
Peter Reith was a member of John Howard's cabinet from 1996 to 2001. He served as Minister for Small Business, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and the Minister for Defence. He's perhaps best known for formulating the GST policy and his roles in the 1998 waterfront dispute and the "children overboard" scandal.
Peter's just released The Reith Papers, an annotated collection of his diary entries during his time in government. Here we got to discuss (and occasionally lock horns over) the notion of humanising politicians, the recent Paris attacks, military action in the Middle East, Australia's approach to processing refugees and the role of unions in today's society.
Comedian, writer and activist Aamer Rahman jokes about race and detention centres and terrorism and hip-hop and comic books and cultural appropriation. Formerly of the comedy duo Fear Of A Brown Planet (with previous guest Nazeem Hussain), he now tours his stand-up internationally being very funny and very on-point.
Here Aamer articulates how the Adam Goodes controversy sums up the issues of Australia's race problem, how he views the impact of his work, cultural appropriation, Iggy Azalea, ethnic faces on TV, Bill Maher, Cornel West and political correctness in comedy.
Cause of the Week: Refugees, Survivors & Ex-Detainees (riserefugee.org)
Here's a live panel on where the jolly hell Australian politics is heading at the moment, recorded at This Is Not Art 2015 in Newcastle, as part of Critical Animals. The panel featured myself, Labor Senator Sam Dastyari and academic Professor James Arvanitakis and was moderated by Alice Workman from triple j's Hack program.
We discussed political leadership, immigration, marriage equality and titles.
Critical Animals is a creative research symposium held annually as a part of tINA; find out more at criticalanimals.com.
At just 33, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young already has eight years of experience serving as a Greens Senator for South Australia in the federal parliament. Once a protégé of Bob Brown’s, Sarah now holds the portfolios of Immigration & Citizenship, LGBTI rights and Youth, Early Childhood Education & Childcare for the Greens.
In this chat, recorded just before Sarah took to the stage at a Rally for Refugees in Melbourne, we discuss the future of her party, her path from student politician to youthful senate candidate, the 2009 CTRS decision, party donations and the horrible shit she’s seen in her visits to offshore detention centres.
It's been almost a year since a magistrate gave whistleblower Freya Newman a two-year good behaviour bond for “unauthorized access to information” under the NSW Crimes Act. Her leaking of private information about Frances Abbott, the prime minister’s daughter, receiving a $60,000 undeclared scholarship at the Whitehouse Institute, a private design school, ignited a furious public debate about privacy, privilege and the public’s right to know.
At the National Young Writer’s Festival in Newcastle, I got to sit down with Freya and asked her to reflect on exactly how it all happened, what it’s like to be in the centre of a media shitstorm, the failings of the media’s handling of the issue, gaps in the law and whether or not she holds any regrets about the whole episode.
After another bit of a delay and SOME JOLLY CRAZY HAPPENINGS in Australian politics, we’re back. Hello.
Erik Jensen is the definition of “precocious”. He’s in his mid-twenties and he’s already won a Walkley Award and he’s responsible for the launch and editing the highly-respected Saturday Paper – a weekly, centrist newspaper dedicated to long-form narrative journalism.
Plus he’s written a critically-acclaimed biography of artist Adam Cullen, he likes cool music and is very funny. What an arsehole.
In this chat Erik tells me about his beginnings in and passion for journalism, the over-arching philosophy behind TSP, the media and bias, the Abbott government’s “paucity of ideas”, leaks and opinion polls and just where things might go with Malcolm Turnbull as our new Prime Minister.
Cause of the Week: The Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre (rilc.org.au)
Again, apologies for the delay, everyone. It's been a while, but I'm back with a doozy of an episode.
Philip “Dr. Death” Nitschke has been the face of the controversial right-to-die debate in Australia for almost 20 years. He is the founder and director of the pro-euthanasia group Exit International and author of The Peaceful Pill Handbook – a book describing ways to commit suicide that has been banned in Australia.
I’ve always been fascinated by Philip’s arguments and his tenacity in presenting them. When I heard he was performing a one-man comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival about his life and various suicide techniques, I had to find out more and jumped at the chance to sit down with him.
Here Philip explains how he came to be performing this show, how he got involved in the euthanasia debate to begin with, his personal approach to death, his response to all the objections, censorship, the failings of modern medicine, “rational suicide”, what it’s like to help someone die and where he sees the debate going next.
Hello! I'm back! Sorry about the wait for a new episode. I'm in Scotland, so let's talk to a Scot.
Kieran Hurley is a playwright and poet based in Glasgow. His work touches on the human stories involved in political events and he was a vocal supporter of the "YES" campaign in last year's referendum on Scottish independence.
Together Kieran and I talked about the UK government banning rave music in the 90s, the London riots, May's general election and what it means for British politics, Jeremy Corbyn, austerity, "Torycore", nationalism and why he's occasionally happy to be considered a "traitor".
Cause of the Week: The Black Triangle Campaign (blacktrianglecampaign.org)
I think Damien Power is one of the most exciting comedians in Australia right now. He opened for Tenacious D on their Australian tour a few years back (I saw the show and he crushed it) and his 2015 stand up show I Can’t Believe I Cared was nominated for the Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Damien’s comedy is not only hilarious, it’s extremely well-informed and socially conscious. In this chat we covered cats (shout-outs to Jerry the Persian), what the film Jurassic World tells us about capitalism and the growth economy, anarchy, conspiracy theories and the impending World War III that’s coming to obliterate us all. Enjoy!
Cause of the Week: GetUp!’s campaign to shut down Manus Island and Nauru (getup.org.au)
Van Badham exudes passion for political action. She’s a playwright, novelist, columnist for The Guardian, proud union member and vocal activist who’s appeared on Q&A, The Drum and Radio National.
Van outlined the case against the federal government’s approach to arts funding and spoke to me about the importance of the arts to a society’s understanding of itself, our lazy attitude to democracy, politicians’ failure to listen to the people, asylum seekers, education, taxes, why the marriage equality debate gives her hope and tackling trolls.
Rod Quantock recently received a Medal of the Order of Australia for his 45+ years of being an outspoken comedian/environmentalist activist/shit-stirrer. He is a living legend of Australian comedy who has relentlessly used his work to explain, dissect and call out political issues that really piss him off.
In this wide-ranging chat, Rod told me about his thoughts on music, his political radicalisation, the origins of his groundbreaking shows Tram and Bus, the community campaigns he’s been involved with, being physically beaten at a protest at the 2000 World Economic Forum, his plans to close down the Murdoch press, how he keeps faith in the political system (or doesn’t) and how the realities of climate change colour his view of the future.
Cause of the Week: Quit Coal (quitcoal.org.au)
Tim Wilson is a former policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner, public commentator and tea-drinker. He describes himself as a economic and social liberal and a cultural and institutional conservative. He's passionate about his principles and isn't afraid to wade into whatever controversy those principles might him lead to.
Together we discussed the criticisms he's faced since taking on his role at the AHRC, asylum seeker policy, what it's really like at the IPA, his opposition to plain packaging cigarettes, the balance of marriage equality and religious freedoms, anti-discrimination legislation and his thoughts on the recent Q&A controversy.
Cause of the Week: The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (aief.com.au)
Vegan lawyer Shatha Hamade is a former prosecutor for the RSPCA and is now the Head of Investigations for Animals Australia. She's passionate about advocating for animal rights and challenging social conditioning when it comes to the way we treat our fellow earthlings.
In this chat (recorded in the AA offices, where DOGS JUST RUN AROUND FREELY IT IS SO COOL) we discuss her "wake-up" moment, the kind of godawful abuses she's witnessed, the law's approach to animals accoridng to their "use", inherited thinking, the links between animal cruelty and a myriad of other social problems, the live export and live baiting investigations and the non-humans right movement.
A warning: animal cruelty is described in explicit detail here, some listeners may find it disturbing.
Cause of the Week: Animals Australia (animalsaustralia.org)
Dan Ilic is a political satirist who employs what he calls “evidence-based shit-stirring”. He loves taking the piss in all sorts of media; his sensibilities can be found in The Ronnie Johns Half-Hour, Can of Worms, The Mansion, Hungry Beast, his ads for GetUp!, his labour of love satire collective A Rational Fear and more recently his work for Al Jazeera’s AJ+.
In this chat (recorded in a very SPECIAL LOCATION featuring a SPECIAL CAMEO), Dan and I reflect on the furore surrounding Q&A and discuss his amazing family story, how his “inner rage” fuels him to do what he does, the saga surrounding his piece (that was originally titled) Beaconsfield: A Musical In A Flat Minor, why he recently got fired and where he sees Australian political satire going in the future.
Cause of the Week: Sanfilippo Children's Foundation (sanfilippo.org.au)
Waleed Aly (aka Nazeem Hussain) is a politics lecturer, columnist, author, radio broadcaster and co-host on Channel Ten's The Project.
Waleed has an extraordinary reputation for making considered and insightful contributions to public debate. We discussed how he's finding the world of commercial television, how the act of writing informs his ideas, the political philosophy of conservatism (what it is and what it isn't), marriage equality, Middle Eastern politics and why ISIS' appeal to young Muslim people in the West might be working.
At one point I hit the mic with my hand and at another point a chair collapses.
Cause of the Week: Possible Dreams International (possibledreams.org)
This week - something a bit different.
I am a very big fan of former Bluejuice frontman, comedian and broadcaster Jake Stone and feel very lucky indeed to count him as a friend. I think he's extremely funny and creative but also has a darkness and a brutal honesty to him that I find fascinating.
This chat - recorded back in January of this year - covers Jake's career with Bluejuice, the band's philosophy, the state of today's music industry, the major break-up in his life that inspired him so much and stilll haunts him, mental health issues and the experiecne of writing a good pop song.
Jake even kindly gave me a special little musical treat, just for this podcast: his cover of How Will I Know?. Enjoy!
Cause of the Week: Music NSW (musicnsw.com)
Newsreader, journalist, writer and philanthropist Tracey Spicer doesn't tolerate make-up, God, prudishness or sexism in the workplace. She rips through bullshit with a smile and had stories to burn from her time studying, working in the trenches at Channel Ten and Sky News and her colourful personal life.
Tracey told me about how liberating it is to shake off the image of the "perfect" newsreader, how Joh Bjelke-Petersen inspired her to become a journalist, the issue of bias in journalism, her work as an ambassador for World Vision and the time she almost killed her mum.
Cause of the Week: Dying With Dignity (dwdv.org.au)
Nic Holas is a moustached writer and advocate living with HIV. He's written for Junkee, Hello Mr., Star Observer, Cosmopolitan and others, he's appeared on the ABC's Q&A and he's co-founded a social media umbrella for positive people.
He's fearless, frank and funny and I love him for it. In this chat Nic shared his story about becoming positive and we discussed the ins and outs of what HIV is, the spectre of the 80s epidemic, shame, sex education, the problem with condoms, same-sex marriage and wolf-daddies.
Cause of the Week: The Institute of Many (theinstituteofmany.org.au)
Jarrod McKenna is one of those "cool Christians" you've heard about, except he actually is genuinely cool.
Jarrod is many things: a pastor, a protestor, the National Advisor for Youth, Faith and Activism for World Vision Australia, founder of the Love Makes A Way campaign and the First Home Project, theologian, husband, dad and drealocked d00d. He subscribes to the whacky idea that Christianity should look like Jesus and that compels him to do good, important things.
In this conversation (recorded in the communal kitchen of the First Home Project) we covered a lot: the problematic nature of ANZAC Day, his journey to faith, living Jesus’ love, being the Christian kid at school, non-violent protest and how he turned a further meth lab in the Perth suburb of Midland into a home for people who are trying to build a new life for themselves.
Super-dooper brainy (and very funny) comedian Sara Pascoe was in Australia for a bunch of festivals and kindly gave me some of her time to talk about sperm and hymen in a hotel lobby. Her work is whip-smart and politically active and has recently focussed on the fascinating world of sexual biology and its implications.
Here we cover her early political awakening, the difficulty of being a good person, kamikaze sperm, pornography, incest, hymens, paedophilia - you know, all the good stuff.
Prepare to do a lot of LEARNING.
Cause of the Week: Eaves For Women (eavesforwomen.org.uk)
After my little rant about this nonsense, sit back and enjoy my wide-ranging discussion with Melbourne's one-and-only "larrikin priest", dear Father Bob Maguire.
A humanitarian, broadcaster, philosopher and community leader who makes me laugh and think, Bob was an absolute joy a to talk to. We discussed his history with the Vietnam War, ideology, the problems in the Middle East, the idea of heaven, "doctrinal constipation", his "wife" and much more besides.
At one point he exclaimed "Bugger Rome!" and that made me laugh quite a bit.
Cause of the Week: The Father Bob Maguire Foundation (fatherbobsfoundation.com.au)
Here's a special little treat because I love youse so much: my piece for Fan Fiction Comedy at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Based on this actual news story about the federal government spending $4 million on a telemovie designed to deter asylum seekers to come to Australia by boat, Deathboat - Bloody Borders is a gritty, action-packed drama that is sure to be a ratings winner.
My chat with Helen Razer continues and by now she’s really in her groove.
Here we cover our obsession with gestures as opposed to real action, why we should tear down the catwalk, the evils of iPhones, the overuse of personal anecdotes, how “the world is just fucked” and much more.
Helen Razer is a writer, a broadcaster and a gardener who doesn’t fuck around. Presenting alongside Mikey Robbins on breakfast and Judith Lucy on drive, she was a defining voice on triple j throughout the 1990s thanks to her wit, her vocabulary and her distaste for bullshit.
Since her time on the radio, Helen has forged a reputation as a ruthless and incisive opinion writer, appearing in The Big Issue, The Saturday Paper, Crikey, The Guardian and elsewhere. She very kindly had me over to her place for lunch and to talk about her latest book on the quality of public debate and the spectre of “Stupid”.
In this first part of our chat, we discuss comedy, the value and purpose of university learning, feminism, killing liberalism, capitalism, marriage equality and the “banality of good”.
Cause of the Week: The ABC’s Appeal for the Nepalese Earthquake (abc.net.au/appeals)
I was happier than a pig in shit to have a chat with comedian Robin Ince last week. I've been a fan of Robin's comedy ever since I saw him supporting Ricky Gervais on his tour DVDs years ago and his recent work has really excited me as an atheist and as a novice student of science.
Robin is in Australia touring his Happiness Through Science show in association with the Atheist Foundation of Australia, critiquing silly religious ideas and celebrating the natural world through jokes. We talked and laughed about Australia's religiosity, Robin's journey to and conception of atheism, the "great big tumour of existence", the danger of dogma, morality, Islam, the quantum qualities of plants, having children and whether or not he actually has sat on ham.
Cause of the Week: Water Aid (wateraid.org/au)
Freelance journalist Andrew McMillen writes about all sorts of fascinating stuff. While I was in Brisbane I sat down with him to briefly discuss dead bodies and Wikipedia, but we spent most of our time focussed on getting high.
Andrew's book Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs saw him interview big names in Australian music about their relationship with and opinions on illegal drug use. I asked him what he learnt from putting the book together and we talked about the history of drug criminalisation, the relationship between drugs and creativity, the problems with the public debate about the issue, why people take drugs, how to buy them and where he sees the conversation going next.
Cause of the Week: Headspace (headspace.org.au)
Clementine Ford is a self-described "feminist killjoy to the stars". As a Daily Life columnist, speaker and activist, Clem is a proudly outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and a staunch critic of rape culture and all that entails.
Our conversation covered the perceptions of and challenges faced by modern-day feminism, society's attitude towards the perpetrators and victims of rape and sexual assault, men's role in feminism, checking one’s privilege, "rape jokes" and more.
Please note this discussion comes with a strong trigger warning; details of sexual assaults and victim blaming are mentioned.
Clementine’s TED Talk: Your Vagina Is Not A Car
Opinion piece: It Was Easy For Bayley To Stalk, Rape And Murder
Opinion piece: There’s Nothing Funny About Misogyny
triple j’s Hack program: Are rape jokes ever OK?
Cause of the Week: Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (safesteps.org.au)
Journalist and comedy writer Richard Cooke has worked with the likes of The Chaser, The Checkout, The Saturday Paper, The Guardian and The Monthly.
He gave me some of his time to sound off on Aussie hip hop, Australian political satire, the theory of "mutual obligation" and tax evasion and the role of polling in today's politics.
Cause of the Week: Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org)
Ben Riley describes himself as a classical liberal, a Queenslander and a larrikin. He's a former president of the Young Liberals and the current Vice President of the International Young Democractic Union.
We came together to find out exactly where we do and don't agree on things like the privatisation of public assets, the State's role in our lives, puppy farms, same-sex marriage, diversity in politics, the environment and our Prime Minister's character.
Plus we laughed about that time he got drunk and was a bit silly.
Adelaide's Welcome Centre is an initiative of Welcome To Australia, an organisation dedicated to changing the conversation around Australia's immigration policies and to providing support to asylum seekers, refugees and new arrivals.
My guests were Kate Leaney, the Centre's manager, and Ali, an Iranian refugee who was kind enough to share his story of fleeing his homeland and coming to Australia by boat. We discussed the notion of being welcoming, faith, children in detention, fear and hope.
The one-and-only Arj Barker is hilarious on stage, but serious when it comes to reports and lore surrounding Unidentified Flying Objects. He told me about the cases and evidence that have influenced his thinking, the philosophy surrounding the idea of extra-terrestrials and the nature of belief.
We also covered his interest in meditation and his former life as a bit of a stoner.
Jacques Vallée’s Passport To Magonia
Cause of the Week: The RSPCA on the greyhound racing industry (rspcavic.org/)
Jimblah (aka James Alberts) is a producer, MC and vocalist based in Adelaide, SA. He hails from the Larrakia Nation and on his two albums to date, Face The Fire and Phoenix, he’s produced smart, self-aware, passionate and original music.
Our conversation covered his recent philosophical evolution and the focus for his new album, pervasive racist systems, Australia/Invasion/Survival Day, love, power and eating meat.
Quentin Kenihan is a movie star, a TV presenter and producer, friend to celebrities, disability advocate and enthusiastic Jewel fan.
Brought into the national spotlight as a 7-year-old boy with osteogenesis imperfecta (or "brittle bone syndrome"), the Q has experienced the dizzying heights (and lows) of fame, sex and drug use. As he brings his autobiographical show I'm 40...Now What? to the Adelaide Fringe, we chatted about everything from sex workers to inspiration to the late Stella Young to the death penalty to his own funeral.
I even met his dog.
Cause of the Week: The Attitude Foundation (attitude.org.au)
Comedian, writer, TV & radio host and outspoken activist Nazeem Hussain escaped the watchful gaze of ASIO to join me in my house for a chat.
The creator and star of Legally Brown discussed comedy, the white media landscape and his intense martial arts training, as well as reflecting on his approach to Islam and his single mother's role in fostering his commitment to helping other people.
Cause of the Week: RISE (riserefugee.org)
For an in-depth breakdown of what exactly is going on with Australia's immigration policy and exactly how many laws we're breaking, I talked to academic and advocate Senthorun Raj.
Currently completing his PhD in law at Sydney University, Senthorun has worked extensively with the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Amnesty International, ACON Health and many other organisations. Hear us discuss how his Tamil family background (and a TV show) influenced his passion for human rights, our society's tendency to ignore certain kinds of violence and how Australia is complicit in state-sanctioned torture.
You probably know Dicko best as that arsehole judge from Australian Idol, but there's a lot more to the old codger than that. He's been a window washer, a music journalist, a radio host and more, all the while retaining his trademark unflinching honesty.
Here we discuss his father's remarkable story, the political colouring of his youth, stories from his time working with everyone from Pearl Jam to Rage Against the Machine, political correctness and why he's found himself in hot water with Quentin and Paulini.
Dicko's story about Quentin is on ABC iView
Cause of the Week: The Australian Children's Music Fund (acmf.com.au)
Kate Doak is a freelance investigative journalist who runs her own current affairs website (thedeadlynewt.com) and writes and reports for numerous publications.
She is a proud transwoman who's passionate about confronting transphobia and other forms of discrimination facing the LGBTIQ community. Listen to hear about her coming out story (both of them), the physical threats trans people still face and the importance of language and visibility.
Cause of the Week: The Safe Schools Coalition (safeschoolscoalition.org.au)
Samah Hadid is a human rights and social justice campaigner who's worked with the Global Poverty Project, the UN and grass-roots organisations all over the world.
She very kindly sat down with me in a Bankstown cafe to talk about being called a terrorist, wearing (and not wearing) a veil, Charlie Hebdo, foreign aid and being addicted to warzones.
Cause of the Week: The Global Poverty Project (globalpovertyproject.com)