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)
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)