Luke McGregor is a beloved Australian comedian who co-stars in the ABC series Rosehaven alongside Celia Pacquola and presents "Lukenomics" on The Weekly. He's also my very nice friend and one time we got KFC together.
A month on from his appearance on Q&A alongside (now Nationals leader) Barnaby Fucking Joyce, Luke talks to me about the frustrations of public debate, why studying economics stopped him being a Liberal voter, and the ins and outs of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT).
Cause of the Week: Brightside Farm Sanctuary (brightside.org.au)
Josh Callinan is the Secretary of the Retail And Fast Food Workers' Union (RAFFWU); a young fighting union which represents thousands of overwhelmingly younger Australian workers in highly casualised and insecure industries.
RAFFWU was set up in opposition to the right-wing "yellow" union the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (the SDA), aka Christian Porter's favourite union. In this conversation Josh explains just how bad the SDA has been for workers, the scourge of casualisation and how RAFFWU is organising for a better deal and a better future.
Cause of the Week: RAFFWU! Join them yourself or spread the word (raffwu.org.au)
Tim Hollo is a former staffer for the Australian Greens, is the Greens candidate for the federal seat of Canberra and works as the Executive Director of the official Greens think tank, The Greens Institute.
He's currently working on a book laying out his theory of "ecological politics"; a a self-organising democracy grounded in the natural world and connection. Tim wants a politics seeks to go beyond the neoliberal capitalist status quo, rejects the far-right's "solutions" and avoids what he considers to be the limits of socialism. We discuss the details of Tim's theory, as well as his reflections on the Greens' strategy around Kevin Rudd's CPRS, how fossil fuel companies killing off the possibilities of climate action, decentralising power and why consensus decision making isn't centrism.
Cause of the Week: IndigenousX (indigenousx.com.au)
Emma Dawson is an ALP member and a former adviser to the Rudd and Gillard governments on public broadcasting policy. These days she’s the Executive Director of the think tank Per Capita, “an independent, progressive think tank, dedicated to fighting inequality in Australia”.
After very kindly providing me with a nice lunch, Emma explains where her politics come from, the Labor Party's neoliberal legacy, the role of markets in society and her passion for social democracy. She lays out the policy complexities with the #80ADay JobSeeker campaign and the tensions between idealistic, activist politics and brutal electoral math.
(Note: at one point I think Emma accidentally said Linda Reynolds when she was referring to Linda Burney.)
Cause of the Week: The Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (unemployedworkersunion.com)
Jonathan Biggins is a legendary Australian satirist, actor and writer, who is currently performing his one-man show The Gospel According To Paul - a theatrical biography of the reforming Labor Treasurer and Prime Minister, Paul Keating.
I asked Jonathan about his thoughts on Keating's complicated legacy - the good and the bad - and how his (often arrogant, but politically effective) leadership contrasts with the shit we have today. We discuss "economic rationalism", the waging of culture wars and identity politics and Jonathan's grave concern about the effect that social media technology is having on our society..
Cause of the Week: The Actor's Benevolent Fund (actorsbenevolentfund.org.au)
Richie Merzian is the Director of the Climate & Energy Program at The Australia Institute.
With Australia embarrassing itself on the global stage when it comes to setting actual reduction targets that might actually do something, this was a great chance to check in with where the climate debate is at. Richie lays out just how lacking our commitments are, what they should be and what other countries are doing, as well giving me the rundown on electric vehicles, carbon accounting tricks, just transition models, fossil fuel subsidies and the (relatively straightforward) path to addressing this existential crisis.
Cause of the Week: The Juice Media (thejuicemedia.com)
Hello! Sorry for the radio silence - I have been busy being too hot for TV and annoying Andrew Bolt. Apologies.
This week's ep is a slice of a conversation I had with socialist councillor Stephen Jolly and Leftist intellectuals (and previous LIASYO guests) Alison Pennington, Jeff Sparrow and Guy Rundle for Stephen's new podcast, Melbourne Calling.
We had a wide-ranging chat about the state of the Australian Left in the wake of COVID, the sexual assault crisis in Canberra, workers' power and ideology.
Cause of the Week: Pay The Rent (paytherent.net.au)
Samantha Maiden is an award-winning journalist who's currently the political editor at news.com.au. In February, she broke the story of Brittany Higgins' alleged rape in Parliament House in 2019, which has since sent shockwaves through Canberra and the Australian political class.
I wanted to ask Sam about what's really been going on over the past couple of months: what we're witness, what it means and why it's different to the #MeToo moment from a couple of years ago. She reflects on Higgins' bravery, people wanking on desks and the Morrison government's attempt to respond to the ongoing crisis.
Cause of the Week: Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia (rape-dvservices.org.au)
David Milner is an award-winning journalist who now regularly writes for The Shot - a "profound and profane" news site from The Chaser that is consistently pumping out sharp, angry rants about the state of Australian politics and the sinister influence of the Murdoch media.
This was a great conversation about how The Shot was born in the fires of Melbourne's 2020 lockdown, what David learned from his time as a video journalist, just how toxic Newscorp is, how we could reject it, the ALP's lack of a fight and why right now is "a depressing time for people who give a shit about things".
Cause of the Week: March 4 Justice (march4justice.com.au)
Ricardo Menéndez March was elected to the Parliament of Aotearoa in 2020. He was born in Mexico, immigrated to New Zealand and eventually became a socialist, queer activist and anti-poverty campaigner.
Ricardo tells me about the motto he lives by ("Be gay. Do crime"), the neoliberal legacy of the NZ Labour Party, the gap between the Ardern government's rhetoric of kindness and the reality on the ground, and the Green movement's challenge to remain authentic and grassroots-driven, while still being productive and professional to make things better for ordinary people.
Cause of the Week: Auckland Action Against Poverty (aaap.org.nz)
Jordon Steele-John is a disability and youth activist and has been a Greens senator for Western Australia since 2017, when he replaced Scott Ludlam in the Senate at just 23 years old.
Here I ask Jordon about how parliament actually works and how it feels to be inside it as a Millennial Green. He explains why he's in parliament, his disappointment in the ALP, what being a socialist means to him, empowering young people, the fight for "ecological democracy" and the good and bad of the NDIS and the ongoing Royal Commission into the abuse and neglect of people with disabilities.
Cause of the Week: People With Disabilities Australia (pwd.org.au)
Amy Remeikis is Guardian Australia's political reporter who writes the Australian politics live blog, covering the thrills and spills of Australian politics as they happen.
Amy joined me after another crazy week in Canberra, to reflect on the "Remeikis experience", why the political class sucks so much, what to make of the media bargaining code and Labor's strategy to win back Queensland at the next election.
Cause of the Week: Support your local florist!
Dr. Evan Smith is a historian and academic who's extensively researched the history of the Far Left in Australia and the UK. Last year he released his book No Platforming: A History of Anti-Fascism, Universities and the Limits of Free Speech.
I reached out to Evan last month after the whackiness of the storming of the US Capitol and Trump's removal from Twitter. We only managed to find some time recently for a chat, but this is clearly still a relevant conversation (as Trump is formally acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial). Evan lays out the history of "no platform" as a political tactic, the moral and political arguments surrounding it, the grey areas and its potential limits as a strategy for the Left.
Cause of the Week: The Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (unemployedworkersunion.com)
Luke Savage is a Canadian socialist and staff writer for Jacobin magazine whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic and The New Statesman.
I've always really enjoyed Luke's writing about US politics and political economy and was stoked that he joined me from Toronto to chat about Canada, the neoliberalism of Trudeau and the politics of Jimmy Kimmel's horrific "Goodbye Trump" animation video. I asked Luke about what the Obama years might tell us about the un-radical promise of a Biden presidency, the failure and limits of liberalism, why bipartisanship sucks and what might become of the Big Cheeto President now.
Cause of the Week: The Workers' Action Centre Toronto (workersactioncentre.org)
Doug Cameron is a former AMWU trade unionist who served as a Labor senator from 2008 to 2019. He's now retired to Hobart, but still regularly tweets out exactly what he thinks about Australian politics and the state of the ALP.
After a week of leadership speculation, a shadow cabinet reshuffle and a lot of chatter about how progressive people should just shut up and vote Labor no matter what, I found it refreshing to talk to an old-school class warrior like Doug who articulates bold, socialist politics. We talked about his experience as a socialist working in the trade union movement and the ALP, why the party should grow a spine, the Corbyn moment and why he thinks joining the Greens is the "easy way out".
Cause of the Week: Everybody's Home Campaign (everybodyshome.com.au)
Luke Pearson is a Gamilaroi man who in 2012 founded IndigenousX: a 100% Indigenous owned and operated, independent media, consultancy, and training organisation.
As January 26th approaches, I wanted to ask Luke about what he makes of the Australia Day culture warring, his critique of the #changethedate campaign, our national amnesia when it comes to our history and why we need to #changethenation instead. He explains the nature of the ongoing occupation of this country, what political action might bring about material change for First Nations people and why the idea of changing the national holiday is like a gym membership.
CAUSE OF THE WEEK: indigenousx.com.au
Oh hello. Happy New Year.
Amy MacMahon is the new Greens member for the Queensland state seat of South Brisbane after unseating Labor's Jackie Trad at the 2020 election.
Amy tells me how her politics were informed by her experiences in Bangladesh and her mum's stroke of a few years ago. We discuss what running on a socialist platform looks like in Australia today, that stupid "Mean Girls" tweet scandal, what the ALP has become and how the Greens can reach out to the labour movement, as well as the Greens' priorities for Queensland in the year ahead.
Cause of the Week: Mums 4 Refugees (mums4refugees.org)
It's the final ep for 2020! Thank heavens, etc.
JR Hennessy is a Sydney-based writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Monthly and The Outline. He's the current editor for Business Insider Australia and he is smart and funny.
I wanted to take to James about his thoughts on the wonders of 2020 and what (if anything) we can take from it. We discuss it all: people who consider politicians and health experts their friends, winning fights on the computer, "experts", OnlyFans, "dropshipping", logging off, whether the Millennial socialism moment is over and finding some hope for the Left in a post-COVID world.
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/It's Over, everyone.
Cause of the Week: Foodbank (foodbank.org.au)
Simon Copland is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the Australian National University (ANU) who is currently studying the online "manosphere" on Reddit. He's written for the BBC, The Guardian, Fairfax and News Corp. and he co-hosted the Queers podcast with Benjamin Riley.
Here Simon lays out what the "manosphere" is and why it exists. We discuss incel violence, male alienation, Jordan Peterson, the material conditions that leads to this stuff and the challenges of trying to understand it. Scrubbing the internet clean of these ideas clearly isn't working and neither is joking about killing all men; so what's the alternative?
Cause of the Week: MensLine Australia (mensline.org.au)
Ed Miller is the Economic Fairness Campaigns Director at the progressive activist group GetUp!.
I wanted to chat to Ed about where GetUp! is at these days; the attacks being made on it by the Murdoch media, its recent wins and failures and its more explicitly anti-capitalist campaigning that I've been noticing recently. We discuss the way GetUp! works, why conservatives hate it, the power of its members and why Australian politics' obsession with "debt and deficits" has limited our political imagination.
We also had a (quick) crack at discussing Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and why it matters.
Cause of the Week: Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network (seedmob.org.au)
Jess Scully is the Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney as part of "Team Clover". This year she released her debut book Glimpses of Utopia: Real Ideas for a Fairer World, which draws on her own experience and actual examples from all over the world on how people are doing politics, democracy, work and environmental action differently.
Jess is a delightful, passionate and optimistic person who inspired me to shake out of my current cynical, black pill-ed view of the world (as Jess says, under neoliberalism, "We have internalised the impossibility of change"). We discussed why it's worth thinking about utopia and how we can get there, citizens' juries, workers' co-ops, the financialised economy and how the alternative ways of organising society are already playing out in the world right now.
This week's ep is my conversation with a group of young climate leaders as part of a panel organised by the Foundation for Young Australians, Youth Action NSW and the team behind the Youth On Strike! documentary.
It was a fierce and inspiring chat about about where young people's call for climate action goes to from here in a post-COVID Australia and touched on activism, First Nations justice and youth representation. It was a pleasure to moderate; I hope you enjoy listening to it.
The panel featured:
Richard Cooke is a brilliant writer and commentator who's written for the likes of The Chaser, The Monthly, The New York Times and The New Republic. His 2019 collection of essays Tired of Winning: A Chronicle of American Decline painted a picture of "Trump country" and the factors at play in US politics over the past four years.
Richard kindly came back on the pod to reflect on the results of the 2020 presidential election: what a Biden/Harris victory means, just how bad the Trump presidency has/hasn't been, whether Bernie Would Have Won, the spectre of "wokism" (ergh), BIPARTISANSHIP and what this whole whacky episode might tell us about the state of the Australian Left.
Cause of the Week: Swing Left (swingleft.org)
Osmond Chiu is a researcher with the progressive think tank Per Capita and editor of the Labor Left magazine Challenge. A couple of weeks ago, as he was giving evidence to a senate inquiry into issues facing diaspora communities, Osmond was asked by Liberal Senator Eric Abetz to "unequivocally condemn" the Chinese Communist Party. It was very weird and bad and Abetz has since refused to apologise and only doubled down.
Here I ask Osmond about why that incident was so demeaning, why it matters and how we might consider Australia's relationship with China in a serious, critical but definitely not-racist way.
Cause of the Week: Union Aid Abroad (apheda.org.au)
IT'S A CROSS-POD, PEOPLE.
My dear friend Greg Larsen has a new podcast about the dogshit state of things in Australia right now. It is good and funny and I think you'll enjoy it.
Greg interviewed me for his first episode and we covered it all: does the Left need to get better at falling in line? Is hating Murdoch more important than getting infuriated by the ALP? Why are the Greens wankers? To vote or not vote? Are YouTube comedians good?
Cause of the Week: Anti-Poverty Week (antipovertyweek.org.au)