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.
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)