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)
Dave Eden is a Brisbane-based communist writer and podcaster who authors the blogs With Sober Senses and The Word From Struggle Street. He costs the anti-capitalist podcast Living The Dream with Jon Piccini.
In this conversation Dave explains what he means by the term "communism" and gives a fascinating anti-capitalist take on the Budget. We also discuss his piece for Jacobin on why the current calls for a return to Keynesianism and full employment won't work.
Joe Hildebrand is a journalist, broadcaster and columnist for news.com.au. He's a former co-host of Studio 10 and currently presents on 2GB and co-hosts the US politics podcast, I'm Usually More Professional.
In this wide-ranging chat, Joe and I discuss the first presidential debate and have it out over Joe's fondness for "radical centrism". Joe explains why he thinks "all governments are basically the same" and why he's worried about Labor being beholden to the "extreme Left".
Cause of the Week: St Vincent de Paul Society (vinnies.org.au)
Wayne Swan is a former Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. He's the current President of the Australian Labor Party.
In this conversation I ask Wayne about Labor's performance in the recent Newspoll, what it means for Australia to aspire to "full employment" out of COVID, the ideological war over superannuation, whether the Hawke-Keating legacy can be described as "neoliberal" and how he thinks about the relationship between the ALP and the Greens.
Cause of the Week: St Vincent de Paul Society (vinnies.org.au)
Kristin O'Connell is the Acting Communications Coordinator for the Australian Unemployed Workers Union.
With more than a million Australians unemployed in this time of recession (and depression maybe?), the AUWU has been coordinating a Mutual Obligations Strike and campaigning against the cruel reduction in the JobSeeker payment. Kristin shares her story with me and explains why unemployed workers are workers (and why the AUWU is definitely a union) and just how fucked up and privatised Australia's unemployment "industry" is.
Cause of the Week: The Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (unemployedworkersunion.com)
Emma Alberici is a three-time Walkley-nominated journalist. She's the former Chief Economics Correspondent at the ABC and she worked as a foreign correspondent and the host of Lateline. She recently finished up at the ABC after 18 years; in September 2021 she'll release her memoir through Hardie Grant, Rewriting The Story.
In this conversation, Emma shares her thoughts on gender pay equality, unionism and the state of the economy. We reflect on her ABC career and the controversy surrounding the articles she wrote in 2018 about the Liberal government's policy to cut the company tax: how and why she wrote it, the (small) errors that were made, why the crux of it still stands up and why it matters.
Cause of the Week: Camp Quality (campquality.org.au)
"Aysha" (not her real name) is a Kashmiri activist who advocates for the rights of those suffering under the Indo-Pakistan-Chinese conflict in her home country.
I've previously known very little about the situation in Kashmir and was grateful to Aysha for giving me a crash-course history lesson on the conflict and the 2019 escalation of tensions by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We discussed the nature of India's occupation, the possibilities of democracy in the region, the effects of COVID-19 and what others can do.
Cause of the Week: Stand With Kashmir Australia (standwithkashmir.org.au)
Guy Rundle is a political essayist, comedy writer, activist and the correspondent-at-large for Crikey. He's a former editor of Arena Magazine.
Guy's been writing about the strangeness and politics of COVID-19. Here I ask him about what a collective virus means for certain political ideologies, what it means to be a "post-Marxist" and what he made of the Democratic National Convention and the possibilities of a Biden presidency.
Cause of the Week: Free Dr. Kylie Moore-Gilbert (change.org)
This week's ep is a conversation I had with journalist and author Melissa Davey about her brilliant new book, The Case of George Pell.
The book was launched on Tuesday night and Mel kindly asked me to discuss its details and what the story and trials of Pell mean for us now.
Cause of the Week: Broken Rites Australia (brokenrites.org.au)
It's episode 200! Hurrah.
Dominic Kelly is a political historian and Honorary Research Fellow at La Trobe University. His 2019 book Political Troglodytes and Economic Lunatics: The Hard Right in Australia examines the activities and influence of four Australian right-wing single-issue advocacy groups: the H.R. Nicholls Society (focussed on industrial relations), the Samuel Griffiths Society (constitutional issues and federalism), the Bennelong Society (Indigenous issues) and the Lavoisier Group (climate change). All four groups were created and steered by three central figures: mining executive Hugh Morgan, his speechwriter Ray Evans and former public servant John Stone. It's a fascinating and (blackly) amusing history.
Here Dominic lays out just how far these four societies have pulled Australia to the right over the past thirty years, what the Left can learn from them and what it shows us about the role that mining interests play in Australian politics.
Cause of the Week: Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (unemployedworkersunion.com)
Max Chandler-Mather is a former union activist and active member of the Queensland Greens. He was the party's candidate for the seat of Griffith in last year's election, where he increased the Greens vote by 7.2%, the biggest Greens swing in the country.
I find the more explicitly Leftist approach taken by Max and the Queensland Party really exciting because they're pushing good, anti-neoliberal polices and, more importantly, it's really working for them. Here I ask Max to explain how a democratic socialist like him is making this happen and why it's been successful. We talk about renters' rights, building the foundations of a mass party, door-knocking, selling "common sense and popular" ideas and the perennial Greens/ALP conflict.
Cause of the Week: The Queensland Greens (greens.org.au/qld)
Alison Pennington is a Senior Economist at The Australia Institute's Centre for Future Work. She has a Masters of Political Economy from the University of Sydney and she rules.
After a week of changes to the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, the government's "mini-budget" announcement, a torrent of shitty "deficit politics" and some ominous talk about industrial relations reform, Alison talks to me about the state of play for Australian workers right now. We discuss the possibilities of reimagining the entire welfare system in this country right now, why debt doesn't matter, why working from home might really suck for workers' rights and what the future of the trade union movement might look like.
Dave Donovan is the founder and editor of Independent Australia, a progressive journal focussed on Australian federal politics, democracy and economics.
In a time of a declining media industry slashing jobs left right and centre, I think supporting independent Australian media is vital, and I for one find it refreshing to read explicitly progressive takes on the news in IA. Here Dave talks about his background in the Republican movement, just how much neoliberalism has reshaped Australia over the past 40 years, class confusion, the overwhelming conservatism of Australian media and the attacks on the ABC.
Cause of the Week: The Federal ICAC Now Party (federalicacnow.org)
CW: This conversation involves discussion of sexual assault
This is the second part of my conversation with human rights lawyer and self-described "social justice witch" Sunili Govinnage.
Here we continue our conversation on what cancel culture is and what it isn't, privilege, oppression, intersectionality and class; topics that have certainly SPICED UP over the past week.
Sunili Govinnage is an Australian human rights lawyer and self-described "social justice witch" who has recently come to some realisations about themselves and their politics.
In the first part of this frank conversation we discuss her "decolonising journey", her focus on dismantling the "colonialist-capitalist-heteropatriarchy", anti-racism and cancel culture. We identify areas that we agree on and some points where we have different perspectives - differences that will be further fleshed out in part two.
Sophie Payten records and performs as Gordi. She makes powerful, sweeping, personal indie-pop and last week released her sophomore album, Our Two Skins. I am a fan and it is good.
I wanted to talk to Sophie about her other job (she's a qualified doctor and has been on standby during the pandemic) and explore the political ideas surrounding her recent discovery of her queer identity and the loss of her beloved grandma. We reflect on the 2017 marriage equality plebiscite, the political stasis that Millennials are trapped and having difficult conversations with people who have different politics.
Cause of the Week: North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (naaja.org.au)
Dr. Chelsea Bond is a Munanjahli and South Sea Islander woman and a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland. She's worked and researched extensively in the area of Aboriginal health and regularly writes and speaks about race and racism in Australia today.
In this conversation, Chelsea reflects on how the recent Black Lives Matter uprising has played out in Australia, her personal experiences with the police, the fierceness of Black women in this struggle and the intersection of racial power structures and class.
Cause of the Week: Inala Wangarra (inalawangarra.com.au)
Andy Zaltzman is a British comedian, the co-host of the hugely popular satirical podcast The Bugle and (sadly) a fanatical cricket fan.
I've been lucky enough to become friends and work with Andy over the past five or so years and have been meaning to have him on as a guest for quite a while now, to laugh about everything in the world and ask him some (mildly) serious questions about his political outlook. Here discuss sport, statues, Fawlty Towers, the failures of the Corbyn moments, his "radical centrism" and the future of Brexit Britain.
Cause of the Week: The Sick Children's Trust (sickchildrenstrust.org)
Gavin Stanbrook is a revolutionary socialist who hails from Gumbanyggir country on the NSW mid-north coast. He's a member of Socialist Alternative who's been campaigning for justice for Aboriginal families for years and who helped organise last week's #BlackLivesMatter protest in Sydney.
In this conversation Gavin tells me how about tearing down statues, the revolutionary potential of this moment, police violence, the tragic cases of Aboriginal deaths in custody, his personal involvement in the #JusticeForBowraville campaign and why he thinks the police should be abolished.
Cause of the Week: The Justice for David Dungay Jnr. GoFundMe
Oliver Twist is a very funny and intelligent up-and-coming Australian comedian. He was born in Rwanda, grew up in a refugee camp in Malawi and has lived in Australia since 2014.
I was planning on taking a week off the podcast this week, but in the midst of everything that's happening right now, Oliver reached out and we decided to record this honest conversation about his relationship to the police, race, class, Black Lives Matter and what meaningful action looks like.
There are even a few laffs in there too.
CAUSE OF THE WEEK: blacklivesmatter.caard.co
Mark Seymour is one of the best singer-songwriters Australia has ever produced. He's the former frontman of Hunters & Collectors and now writes and performs with Mark Seymour & The Undertow. The new Undertow record is called Slow Dawn and comes out today.
Mark has regularly been outspoken about his politics through his music and public appearances, particularly when it comes to Australia's refugee policies. Here he tells me about how he approaches tackling social issues in his music (without being sanctimonious), why he's left-wing, wearing an "Asylum Seeker" t-shirt at the AFL Grand Final, his experiences in South Africa and how the tides of history weigh on us all today.
Cause of the Week: The Frankston Life Church (frankston.life)