A Rational Fear
A Rational Fear
Dec 16, 2021
Julia Zemiro Asks 'Who Cares?' — E3 — Kerry O'Brien & Zara Seidler
Play • 1 hr 17 min

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This is the 3rd Episode of the monthly spin-off podcast from A Rational Fear Julia Zemiro Asks 'Who Cares?' 

Each month for the next 4 months on the A Rational Fear podcast feed, Julia will be interviewing change makers, civic leaders, and people who organise their communities and claim their power to discover the secrets to making good things happen.

This month Julia chats with two Australian very different Australian media leaders who at the opposing ends of their career timelines

Kerry O'Brien— One Australia's most distinguished journalists. Kerry O'Brien may be off our TV screens, but he is far from retired. Kerry is busy, writing and thinking about journalism and democracy. In this chat with JZ, Kerry talks about how the atomisation of media puts our democracy at risk.

also we hear from:

Zara Seidler — The co-founder of one of the largest publishers of youth media in Australia. The Daily Aus is Australia’s leading social-first news service. Offering young Australians a digestible and engaging way to access the news, all through social media. The Daily Aus reaches nearly 300,000 young people through its Instagram, Tiktok, email and podcast channels.

If you enjoyed this please drop us a review on Apple podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/a-rational-fear/id522303261

And subscribe to our Patreon so we can keep making shows like this for you:

https://www.patreon.com/ARationalFear

THANK YOU TO

Julia, Zara & Kerry,
Rode Microphones,
The Bertha Foundation,
Jacob Round.
Jess Harwood for the amazing artwork.
and our Patreon Supporters.

 

 

Julia Zemiro  0:00  
This podcast is supported in part by the birther foundation. I'm recording my part of Julia's Amuro asks, Who cares on the lands of the gunman? Gara and Darwell people, sovereignty was never ceded. We need a treaty. Let's start the podcast.

Dan Ilic  0:18  
A podcast about politics for people who hate politics. This is Julia Mira asks Who cares?

Julia Zemiro  0:27  
Hello Julia here and thank you again for joining me on the irrational fi podcast feed to listen to who cares this month, Kerry O'Brien and Zara sideline to people who have been and are working in the media in Australia. Zara Seidler in her 20s with Sam Koz Lasky set up the daily oz news for millennials will be speaking to her after we speak with Kerry O'Brien, of course, carries a prominent Australian journalist and author whose long career includes 28 years as a national current affairs, television presenter and interviewer. From this day to night, four corners Lateline, the 730 report where he was editor and presenter for 15 years, he's written two books, one on former Australian Prime Minister for Keating, but more recently, a memoir on the social and political upheavals he's witnessed in half a century of journalism. And that's what I wanted to talk to him about today, because one of the biggest upheavals I think, is this independent grassroots movement. And I wanted to ask him what he thought about that and where he thought it might go.

Kerry O'Brien  1:41  
Just in terms of the phenomenon, and it is one I think it's been in the pipeline for quite a while, it's been coming to a slowly, and I think it's probably been hastening, the more people have become disillusioned and lost respect, and grown angrier and more frustrated with the political process, I don't think the state of politics in this country has been at a lower ebb in my working life as a journalist than it is now. And there are all kinds of reasons for that. But in terms of how the media deals with it, I would say, the media in its coverage of politics really reflects the state of our society to in the sense that we are digitally disrupted, generally, in all of our individual lives, and the media is disrupted, as it hasn't been, for a very, very long time. And disrupted not necessarily in a good way. I mean, what ultimately emerges, in a sense is in the lap of the gods, it's not all that easy to predict. I hope I never lose faith in the belief that the public will always be hungry for information. And that the same reasons that saw journalism gradually proliferate through the developed world as the printing presses arrived, and, and as communications improved, and so on. So I just don't see how we will ever lose that hunger. But what I also hope is that the quality of end and accuracy and responsibility of coverage doesn't continue to dissipate as it has, because of the disruption, because of the extent to which the Internet has crowded, and got in the way of the capacity of the mainstream, credible media to function as it is supposed to.

Julia Zemiro  3:34  
But I don't think we're ever going to be able to wind back to 24 hours news cycle.

Kerry O'Brien  3:39  
Well, I just think that there will be an evolution of some kind, Julia, I mean, I don't think what we've seen in the last, say 15 years, slowly, and then gathering pace. And now Now it's kind of on us is the meeting in the middle of the various news operations, and media operations. So print and television have met in the middle, we have converged, we've been talking about convergence for a long time, we now have convergence, it's still evolving. And the final form of that convergence is still there to be kind of played with speculated upon. But print, and television and radio have all met in the middle, you can see the ways that print is adapting to that. And I think it still has quite a ways to go. Whereas in one way, it's been a bit easier for for television, and radio to adapt to its online presence, particularly the ABC, because we're just changing the written word somewhat. We're changing if we're writing for online as opposed to for television. We're writing just for the oral word and the written word. Whereas for newspaper journalists who've known only print writing for print, in their past, they've got to learn the process of writing for pictures and and writing in a different way. So they'll catch up, they are catching up. You can see it They'll they're developing the interviewing skills. I mean, I can remember when I was a print journalist, you'd go with your little tape recorder and you'd sit down, you'd have a chat. And you'd cover all the ground and you'd walk away with about an hour of stuff, about 10 minutes of which was worth using. For television, you're very conscious of the clock ticking and you are you are forced to apply a real discipline and a serious thought process to the questions you really want to explore. And you've got to have a sense in your head of how long you've got to do it in. So that's an adaptation to print. But you see, outside of those things, those things on their own, would not present a difficulty. The real difficulty lies in the fact that the traditional model of journalism has gone out the window. Newsrooms have been seriously disrupted. The commercial operation has been seriously disrupted. Newsrooms and our either the same size, but the journalists are asked to do a lot more. So the the size of the newsrooms and the resources of the newsrooms haven't grown to match the demands that are now on the journalist. And secondly, where there have been attempts to cut back on the cost of operating newsrooms, the first to go, it always pretty much starts with with the human resource, which is the costly resource. And the most costly resource in a newsroom tends to be the more experienced older journalist who spent a lifetime accumulating knowledge and history, they've got the scars, they know where the bodies are buried, but they're more expensive. So if you're an accountant sitting down, to work out where you're going to make your cuts, newsrooms have blade, age and experience. And so you've now got a situation where newsrooms around Australia are, on average, probably 10 years, at least younger than they might have been 10 or 15 years ago. So an awful lot of very smart young journalists. And they are smart, or growing up without mentors, that they are developing as journalists without mentors. And if they don't have a sense of the history that's passed, then that comes at a great cost to the quality of their journalism, because because when I watch politics being reported, now I do get frustrated. I'm not the old white guy throwing a slipper at the screen, because it's not like it was in my day. I don't want to ever make that mistake. But I do see not just opportunities going begging, I see important questions, important checks and balances in the journos process, which is supposed to be fundamental to good journalism, I see those things going begging, I see them not being done. And that really worries me,

Julia Zemiro  7:34  
I've only been to parliament house a few times, couple of times to you know, beg for money for the ABC and SBS. Well, you're preaching to the converted anyway, in the group that you're speaking to, I'm always amazed at how much access journalists actually have in the house. And I sometimes think of the analogy of private schools and selective schools go with me, I went to the selective school. And while we weren't, didn't have the poshness or the money necessarily surrounding us, if you went to a pub, where there were private school kids, you'd be accepted, you'd be welcomed. You could share all the information, you knew what was happening behind the veil, you could see what was happening in those private schools, how they all behaved, and then you left with that information. And it was your little secret to keep because we're not one of them. But we're allowed in there. But we'll keep the secrets. And I sometimes feel like with journalists, they cannot really be in that house, they must know that stuff goes on that they don't report. And I'm not talking just now I'm talking 2030 years ago, and I wonder what the responsibilities there. And it can't just be about protecting a source or whatever. There's a kind of like an in joke or an inworld. That just annoys me when I hear it. And I think it's not a joke. It's not something to kind of go you're all pals and you know each other. And that's how he acts. And that's how she acts. That two I think has has come into journalism. And that's not the young ones necessarily,

Kerry O'Brien  9:02  
ideas, but I don't think it's quite the club that you painted to be. And I don't think it ever has been quite that club. But the aspects of it are true. Absolutely. But I mean, I can remember the wonderful mango McCallum, the late mango, in the days of nation review and mango was doing it on the Australian of all papers before he went to nation review. Rupert, by all accounts wasn't all that thrilled with the way he wrote but nonetheless, he went to Canberra and reflected this is like back in the 60s and reflect when he reflected on it, he could have sounded somewhat like you because because he was saying, even though he had gone through university, he had been a journalist. He was very well read that getting any was writing politics from Sydney to some degree, but when he actually got there, he was shocked at how little he knew. And so he made it his business to take his readers behind the scenes and give them a sense of how life really how the political process function, how the processes of government function, including the public service, how the parliament functioned. He made his business impact to educate. And he saw that as a part of his responsibility. You also got a laugh, a lot of laughs, reading it, and were sometimes scandalized as you read it. And other journalists, from time to time have reflected some aspects of that. But it's less I suspect, because it's a club, but that journalists can sometimes make the mistake of assuming that, that the kind of nuts and bolts of something is too mundane, it's not interesting enough to make it interesting for the public, which to me means that they're not doing their jobs, and they don't really understand why they're there. Or they take for granted that everyone knows. The other aspect that you touch on really is is the kind of behind the scenes chitchat, you know, you lift the phone to a politician, and you have an off the record check. But that is that has always been a part of journalism everywhere. And without that part of the process, journalism would be only ever bringing you a fifth of the story. It allows you to be more nuanced in your reporting, without necessarily reporting what the person has told you specifically, one private conversation might lead to another which leads to a story, which is an important story to get out. I look, I'm sure that some journalists have had favorite sources over the years that they have, that they've nurtured, and they don't want to burn their sources. So maybe they treat them a little gently. And I know that a journalist here or there who's who has who I've thought has done that, and I don't like it when I see it. But it is a more complex operation than then than it might appear sometimes from the outside looking in. I don't think it's quite the club you talk about. I'm sure journalists would like to be more in the know than they are,

Julia Zemiro  11:48  
when you watch the Westminster system that that we use that that sort of yelling across, do you ever do you ever get frustrated, there's just got to be a better way. You know, when you look at cultures around the world, you look in schools, you know, the whole idea of when you're trying to want to get to the bottom of something, you kind of you try and find ways to agree on it, rather than disagrees is constant arguing, I feel like part of the independence movement is that there might be five or six people on that crossbench being able to go well, you know what, clearly, you guys don't know how to have a conversation. So let's cut to it. And it's just not that hard. You know, I get as a trained actor, I get employed by companies to go in and help them figure out how to talk to each other, and how to communicate better. So you know, we're all happy to offer our services, our service, because we've all lost our jobs. So please, by all means, bring us in. But um, but yeah, I wonder about, I wonder about that system, will that changes? Well, one day? Well, we I mean, whether we become a republic or not that idea, it can't be the best way to spend time, because it's not it's not working. It's just not working.

Kerry O'Brien  12:52  
Yeah, look, I'm speaking as a journalist, but also as an individual. I do love some good theater.

Julia Zemiro  12:58  
Like to see some in there.

Kerry O'Brien  13:00  
Well, they used to be yes, the I agree with you, I go again, starting to walk down the track of, you know, the good old days. But the truth is that the standard of political debate today is about 50%, or less than what it was even say 15 years ago. There's always been a gladiatorial element. Paul Keating has maintained that, that he thinks the mood changed after the dismissal in 75. It was that the extent of the friendships across the party lines, behind the speaker's chair and in the privacy of various offices and so on, there was quite a bit of that went on. There were friendships across the aisle, and there was certainly a capacity to speak across the aisle. I think a lot of that has gone. And that is very unfortunate. I also think that the polarization of our politics is symptomatic of a wider polarization in the whole of our society. And that really, really, really worries me. Because I think, I think we're losing the capacity and we certainly risk losing the capacity to be able to talk to each other across our differences. Whether it's over the back fence, in the shop, in the pub, or in the parliament. And, and in the media. I think the media itself is polarized, like I can't remember it being polarized at any other time in my life. I think people are choosing now to to absorb the media that fits their views of the world. People who once upon a time might have read across the media that you might identify as right and left and in the middle, or various, you know, various places in between. People are choosing you know, they're calling it the echo chamber people are now choosing to learn their news get their news from sources that reflect their worldview. And you know, the the social platform for social platforms like Facebook. They exacerbate that they actually Aleut Lee exacerbate them. You know, some some bloody robot or some logarithmic algorithmic process is determining what I'm interested in and sending me stuff. And that's getting seriously creepy. But that polarization really does worry me really worries me because you look at what's happening, and if particularly if you couple it with with what's happened on the internet and social media, and America is the kind of leading edge of this, and the sort of bombardment of fake news and and attempts to manipulate us is crowding out, and D legitimizing the traditional news gathering and news gathering process that we might have once been able to rely on with greater confidence than we can now. So I just you put all of that. So so that kind of process I think, is just going to drive us into more polarization. And I think, I think it is driving us further and further away from the democracy we have known and come to take for granted.

Julia Zemiro  15:58  
Oh, I think it's definitely taken for granted. And you could argue that it starts in schools, and I know everyone says every, it's like, honestly, if you had to teach a kid, everything they need to know in the whole universe, it's all gonna go back to schools, and what more do they have to do in their,

Kerry O'Brien  16:11  
in home in the home don't fit in

Julia Zemiro  16:13  
the home, but gee, that's not happening, either. I mean, you know, you know, I'll sound like an old woman from the past now. But you know, my mom would by the National times the nation review the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, we had interesting magazines, you know, it was having a bit of everything there and having someone talk about, you know, and it's exactly what I'm talking about. Yeah, a bit of everything. And Mum would her thing was that she really wanted to compare. And she was looking at writing styles. I mean, she was a language teacher at secondary, and then tertiary. But there's a girl who, who went to school, who loved French, who had a teacher that actually said to her parents, this one should go to university. And they were like, Nah, that's not going to happen. She somehow got there, and was interested in how the place is run. But really, a lot of a lot of kids would not have that. And certainly not papers, papers, were there on the floor, and you can read them every day. We're all on our own different devices. Little may be looking at stuff, but I'm always astounded how people who I think have switched on, and also on the Women's March, you know, did you go to that? What Women's March? So people are still even though that information is there, they're not engaging with it, because they don't think it concerns them. And my way to fight against that polarization is to really be that one, that when she gets her coffee, or is at a barbecue after the niceties of five minutes, and you know, you and I get approached by random civilians all the time. I'm in, I'm like, what do you what do you get? And I don't care. Now I go straight into the conversation go, literally, what are you thinking of voting for or what, and I try and take the heat out of it, I'm not trying to have a go, I'm trying to genuinely go. And half the time. When you just explain a couple of things, or maybe offer something else, they genuinely seem enlightened by something they didn't know. And that's because you're having that one on one one to one conversation with them. And it might just sit in there for a little minute and imagine, but it's that one to one conversation with people sometimes. And we don't even have conversations without heat, let alone what we see in Parliament. So it's modeled.

Kerry O'Brien  18:29  
That's what I mean about about losing the skill and the capacity to be able to talk to each other civilly across the divide, becoming engaged on behalf of the ABC alumni in a process of trying to promote the ABC as a serious and important issue in this next election campaign, because the ABC as a as a public institution, which to me, is so fundamental, has played such a fundamental and important role in helping developments and sustain a cohesive fabric across our society. And this kind of seriously trusted institutions still in an age where there is no trust for anything. And and so I'm interested when I get some small insights into this sort of this independence movement that's taking place. And the idea of people having community discussions that aren't that they're roundtables. They're not even necessarily for big groups of people. I mean, the idea of community of our sights, small talk, relatively speaking, given that politicians and their apparatchiks turned their backs on the town hall meeting in the 70s. And I saw it happen. I can tell you the last election when any political leader in an election campaign bothered to go to big public town hall meetings was golf slash campaign in 77. Against Fraser, so that's how long it's been since but now you know the kind of the so called Town Hall. Meeting is coming back. Yes, yes. And that's not a bad development provided. It's not just part of some bullshit stitch up marketing process to create an illusion of something that's not real. And it seems to me that this independence movement is genuinely looking to the grass roots as a way of allowing its message and and the things that worry it that worry though those people are involved in it, about the kinds of things we're talking about, you know, they want to actually engage voters. And if there's one thing I hope, I'm going to be able to say again, and again, wherever I go between now and the election is make your vote count, not telling people how they should vote, but just saying, make your vote count, think about the issues that are important to you. And I hope that they see the ABC as one of them. Think about the issues that are genuinely important to you, not who's gonna not who's promising to give you an extra five bucks in your pocket or something. Those things are passing. Proper funding of various policy areas is important, of course, but isolate the key issues that are important to you, whether it's climate change, whether it is the ABC, whether it is growing corruption in the political process, whether it is lies, whatever, the idea that people, I believe, for this election, people should be challenged and feel challenged, and actually take, become interested in the challenge to really think, in some instances for the first time in their lives. What is really important to me, in this campaign, and how can I make my vote count,

Julia Zemiro  21:41  
I've always seen the election as an exam, you know, you when you go into an exam, and you've studied you feel good, because you kind of know what you're going to be saying, you can feel good about the result, the amount of times I've stood in a line at a school waiting to vote, and people are still deciding in that line. Yeah, they're still deciding in the line. And so there's something in them that goes, I won't do the homework I need to do about it. And I'm and you can that you might see someone with a friend and go with who you voting for. And it's astounding to me. So just think you can't be thinking about this right now. And I think certainly this grassroots level of independence is is more about that I, I hosted the independent candidate for Hume Penny Acuras launch. And we were in a basketball court because it was raining, we had an outdoor and indoor idea. But we went indoors in the end and 300 We didn't have a tin roof. No, we were lucky. We're very lucky that I was really worried about the acoustics as well. 350 people turned up. As you know, as the emcee, I warmed up the crowd and chatter to people beforehand. And it was really, it was quite stunning carry to see people wanting more information. Eyes wide open, for clarity for something to be able to believe in something to be a bit hopeful about, especially after the last couple of years. Others who were nervous to be there a little bit nervous, not sure why they were nervous, sort of tryna

Kerry O'Brien  23:13  
possibly feeling a little bit exposed,

Julia Zemiro  23:15  
absolutely exposed.

Kerry O'Brien  23:16  
One of the things that I think has happened, I mean, I've thought a lot about this, the impact of, of technological change the the impact of the digital age as it is now. And it's been a long road hasn't been that long a time coming really post war, post war, and it really only started to take off in the 70s. And the thing about the thing about the digital revolution is that it's a little bit like measuring a title, like measuring an earthquake, it there is a seismic shift going on, there is an exponential kind of pace, as you get further and further into that revolution. And we can I don't care how much thought we put into what's going to happen next. And then what happens after that. And then what happens after that. Try by all means, but don't get too bloody coordinate, because because you'll just end up being blindsided every time I think that the pace of change when you look at not just the pace of change, but the breadth and the range of change is unprecedented in human history, including I think, the the original industrial revolution and, and our capacity to try and stay pace with just left behind at every step of the way. When we first when we first saw the internet coming the very first rosebuds of the internet, and people started to speculate about where it would hit nobody anticipated. Facebook, nobody anticipated Google nobody anticipated any of these things. And, you know, let alone quantum physics and all the rest of it. So

Julia Zemiro  24:55  
I know I contemplated doing putting some rules around it some regulations. is around, they don't need doing it now. And at the time, you're just thinking, like even even on a level, for example, my agent for years was just worried about what do I get them to pay my actors for doing a film or television? All of a sudden, she was having to go into meetings to dis to figure out, what will I now pay my actors? What am I asking for? If the stuff goes online? If it's on the internet, what's that worth? What's happening there, the stuff just keeps moving around. If you're not gonna put a rule around it or regulation around it. It's like we let we let it all go to shit first, and then go, Oh, why people are really getting hurt by this. How do we bring it all back?

Kerry O'Brien  25:37  
I mean, look, there are so many things that feed into this. I've just been reading a terrific article, a guest essay in the New York Times, and it's headed for those who want to Google it. You are the object of a secret extraction operation. And it's by Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School. Shoshana Zubov and the author of a book called The Age of surveillance capitalism, and that's what it's about. And it says that Facebook is not just any corporation, it reached a trillion dollar status in a single decade by applying the logic of what I call surveillance capitalism, an economic system built on the secret extraction or manipulation of human data. And it says the world's liberal democracies now confront a tragedy of the quote unquote uncommons information spaces that people assumed to be public are strictly ruled by private commercial interests for maximum profit. The internet as a self regulating market, has been revealed as a failed experiment, surveillance regulating market has been revealed. As I said, failed experiment, surveillance, capitalism leaves a trail of social wreckage in its wake, and it goes on, you know, this stuff is profound, the impact of it and where it's going to go. Profound. And, and most of us are sitting in our lounge rooms with the bloody blinds drawn, or the curtains drawn, and we cringing. We don't we don't just, you know, we don't just worry about the future for our kids. We're worried about our own futures, you know, a 30 Something person who has been trained for one thing, having to contemplate how they retrain, and then retrain again, and then retrain again. And then they think, how on earth do I prepare my children for this? What's going to be the story for my grandchildren, these things. And, you know, it is no mistake that we are in an age, riddled with anxiety, riddled with anxiety. It's the it's the unseen or barely seen pandemic, alongside the highly visible pandemic that we've been through in the last two years, and in many ways, reaping a far greater, more tragic outcome. Because we are talking about, we are talking about the future of many of our of our kids, many of the youngest people in our society, their future is being ruined for them, as they grow towards even their teenage years. On there's so many potential threats. And I don't want to be alarmist I hate being alarmist. I, no point in being alarmist. But be and so people say, Well, how am I supposed to react to that? I don't know. That. You see, it's too big for government. And at the same time, the quality of government is in decline in Liberal Western democracies, we're seeing the growth of illiberal democracy through Europe, we're looking at, we're looking at the great miss that American societies become. And we have over the last 20 or 30 years increasingly seen America as what we want to be. Well, good luck with that. We're part we're already paying a price for

Julia Zemiro  28:36  
it. Yeah, I've never understood that at all. There is also another possibility. And the other possibility is to be not hopeful, because I think that's a useless word often. But there's another possibility, which is to have a kind of a vision for things that we could achieve the things that we could change. So whether it is in the renewables are kind of argument climate argument, that a renewables could make a strong economy that, you know, Australia could lead in all these ways. You know, if we could find a way I don't know, to make universities free again, and offer the opportunity for everybody to go and be in a situation where they meet different people, and do classes where you have to apply some kind of constructive criticism called critical thinking, and everyone hates the word critical thinking now. But this idea that we could also start getting excited about that kind of place to live where we have to accept change, and things will have to move. And we start to become a country that is moving forward in an exciting way. Rather than always, even though we have to be worried about the things that aren't working, and that's where our leadership can come from in terms of be it state or federal, or, you know, performers or whoever it might be that sort of has those visions in knows a bit more than us, you know, don't be afraid of being with someone that knows more than you because that's how you learn. Right?

Kerry O'Brien  30:05  
Yeah. Look, I think I think there is. I mean, there's the single biggest source of hope for me in the future, is the extraordinary range of great young people coming through, in through various public forums, wonderfully articulate, passionate, clear sighted, demanding a better way, demanding, demanding better actions, demanding action on climate change, because they're saying, You're robbing us of our future, how dare you. But at the moment, it's still fractured. You know, there's no sort of form to it that I can see. And which is why I find that that independence movement, so interesting, because it does seem to have developed as a grassroots thing. There's no hand from the top that has arranged all this. And if and the longer, I think that the mainstream parties choose to ignore the challenge that's being laid out to them, they're, the more they're going to be affected by it. Because ultimately, if this continues the way it is, if mainstream parties do not improve their act, do not reform from the middle and think seriously about getting back on the track that they once were on as responsive parties to their constituencies. Then you're going to see hung Parliament's and in multi party governments, as as much more commonplace than they have ever been in this country. And we already saw Julia Guillen, the low you had you had and more power to her for her capacity to actually bring those people together. She had independence from both sides of the political divide, broadly speaking, functioning very efficiently with her minority government, to keep pushing legislation through the parliament. at record levels, really, including some quite substantial significant legislation

Julia Zemiro  32:05  
is not the job of a prime minister to be someone who can. And I'm not saying this disparagingly about anyone, but I'm just saying surely the job, or you would want someone in that position that goes, Okay, I see your point of view, I see your point of view, we're going to bring it together, why do you think that's what's going on? Now, I'm not going to, that's the skill, right? I've got skills in what I can do, I'm certainly gonna overshoot what I can do. But those kinds of skills, that's what you need, you need someone who can do that. And they're out there, they're out there. But somehow, we're not inviting them into the fold. And it's so interesting to me, that this grassroots level of people all over the country somehow seem to be choosing in the Maine women as they candidates

Kerry O'Brien  32:48  
that that is a fascinating part of the equation, I have to say an impressive women, often,

Julia Zemiro  32:54  
grassroots movements seem to be choosing women as their candidates even though there's been men in the mix. And yet apparently, there's no place for women federally on the hill when it's done in the in the other systems. So, again, it's showing that people it's not that people don't trust women, they absolutely do the choosing them.

Kerry O'Brien  33:15  
This is you this is the same struggle that you've seen in the corporate world, as well. And funnily enough in trade unions, I think, I think trade unions were ahead of the game in that regard, because there have been some very strong female trade union leaders going back over a couple of decades. Yeah, that's just that's that's still catching up. And and even though there has been a significant increase in the numbers of women in the parliament, that very revealing series of Anabel, crabs, just shows how long it's taking any number of men to actually catch up with what the wider public has already appreciated. And that is that women have a huge and at least equal contribution to make, and in the whole process will only improve as a result of it. You

Julia Zemiro  34:01  
always hear people saying, I wish we had a just Cinder and you guys, I say she has a job already with that there were plenty of descenders around, you just have to make them get in there. And it seems like the independent way is allowing women to step up, you know, women who've already had careers and are now in the third act of something that they want to do in their life. And and it just, I mean, so eloquent, you know, zali Steggall and Helen Haynes so eloquent and how they speak and get their ideas across that I feel saying when I listened to them, I got I understand what you're saying, You're being very clear, you're being very direct, you're not mucking around, hiding anything.

Kerry O'Brien  34:39  
I mean, look, just so that we don't get too carried away with with what we're hoping as against the realities. I mean, the truth is, if you're an independent and you're settling on three or four or five key issues, that you're going to say these are my you know, stand against the tide, or no matter what, and I'm going to represent you on these issues more than any other but I also be very sensible and what else comes along, unlike the major parties, they don't have to have a whole platform. And that does make their job somewhat easier. But nonetheless, the role that they potentially can play is of really serious import, given the standards of politics generally today and the need for the mainstream parties to be forced to rethink, reassess, and reform in a way that is much more responsive to the broader public and going back to politics more as a vocation than as just another career. And that is a part of what's gone wrong.

Julia Zemiro  35:36  
But don't think that but don't you think the way they express themselves too, if you think of Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor as well, I mean, it's just a different way of expressing yourself as well. It's, it's, they always take the heat out of the discussion and the bias. And I just saying, Well, this is how it is. And I just don't see why we can't do that more for and I hope voters start to see, that's a way of doing things that's different, that seems to be yielding more. It's an approach if you know that old you can't be what you can't see. And I know it's an old cliche term, but it's true. If you can't see that someone can actually cut through with just, you know, calm discussion. It's sort of saying, Well, I know, I know, you might not have as much power and I might still be a laborer or a liberal voter. But why can't we have more of those in our group, and there are some I'm not saying they're not.

Kerry O'Brien  36:22  
But don't forget the tourney, Windsor was in a mainstream party, he was National Party, he was in the state parliament as a National Party representative. So he had come out of the mainstream, he had come out of conventional politics. And I think, any smart individual who's got any understanding of politics, if you're going to be an independent, you got to be really clear about what it is that your potential constituency is going to find attractive, because if you can't work it out, goodbye, goodbye to your chances of ever being elected. Some of them are populist. In fact, I think, I'm just guessing here talking off the top of my head, but I think over the course of time, if you went back and counted them all, and looked at them, you'd probably find that most of them were populist, most of the successful ones like a, like a bob Katter. In this day and age, if you're going to be a successful, independent, other than like a, like a rogue, self interested, Clive Palmer, then you've got to be offering alternative around issues of trust and honesty, and responsiveness to the public. Those are the things that I imagine the key resonators, and so you've got to be prepared to practice what you preach or you'll be very quickly exposed. Because before you walk through the front door of parliament house for the first time, you've made a whole shitload of enemies.

Julia Zemiro  37:39  
And that's a technical term, everybody Shitload, there'll be in the McCrory dictionary, Shitload final question to you is, I've always been sort of, I don't quite understand why. So I'm half French, half Australian. And when I go to France, people talk about politics quite naturally, easily, openly. It can be part of any conversation. And yes, sometimes it'll get a fiery and other times, it just will not. People will protest for things much for being shut down for things go on strike for things, and it all moves along. And in Australia, I honestly feel that Australians almost need permission to speak, they like that. Firstly, they'll shut it down. And I'm talking about, you know, yes, there's a group of you know, who might have been to uni, like us, and all the rest of it, who of course, have the tools to be able to, but I'm talking about, you know, any people you meet to sort of say, you are allowed to talk about this, and you are allowed to express yourself around it and find out more about it. And I guess that's the sort of feeling I got from that basketball court of people going, I can turn up, I can be here. And it doesn't have to be under the bright lights of a q&a in an audience, which is terrifying. It can be here. And I cannot say anything, but I can sort of, I'm allowed to listen to it and maybe dare to dream or dare to believe or dare to question why Australians like that.

Kerry O'Brien  39:05  
Well, look, I think truly you need to unpack this. If you've got another hour, we're gonna have a crack at it not have to give it some really serious thought beforehand. Australians have always had a capacity to there's been no shortage of anger in politics 1970s, maybe even 16, the the conscription debates, no holds barred. They're in the middle of the First World War. Australia has thrown up some significant surprises in its politics. I do think that one thing that is so fundamentally precious to our system, which really works and is a shining example to the rest of the world, is the fact that our voting is compulsory, even if people aren't prepared to to pursue an interest in politics, that the Constitution is saying that, that the Founding Fathers I hope, I hope I'm reflecting the genuine view of the founding fathers that they understood how fundamentally important the right to vote It was that they were actually they took the view that it should be, you know, shut your ears antivaxxers that. And you know, please don't mandate my life, despite the fact that has constantly mandated in all kinds of ways many of them legitimate, that it was such a crucial key to, to a healthy democracy. As that they were that they've decreed that the voting that voting should be compulsory. Now, I'm not walking article on the constitution. So I'm assuming that that was there from the outset, it might have been presented some years later. One of the great things that's happened to differentiate Australian democracy from many others. And it's, and it's why partly, it partly explains America's problem and partly explains Britain's problem. People might grumble as they go to the polls, but for one brief moment, at least, they're forced to think about it. And some more so it does create conversations. If you're right, that people are kind of timid about expressing their own views. And you're probably more right now than you might have been in the past simply because of this sense of almost isolationism and and polarization. People are scared that because they might pick a fight, because there are so many angry people out there on this stuff, which is why I think it is a kind of a nice example of how things can be done, that people can decide to sit down in a civil environment and speak to each other and open their minds up to the views of others and feel confident enough to express their own views and start to develop their own views with others.

Julia Zemiro  41:39  
Well, on that note, Kerry O'Brien What a beautiful way to finish but a beautiful way to finish what's what's the rest of the day hold for you carry you're gonna do something raining what you ox it's pouring

Kerry O'Brien  41:51  
rain writing constantly but I came to a view very early in our time up here we came up to the north coast of New South Wales when I left 730 And my wife walked away from her job the Herald I learned very early on not to complain about the rain because you you appreciate it when it's the and and often it's the it's here in abundance and the bar and Bayview have a dry season is where you have four months without rain. But now it's wonderful, wonderful part of the world and the only what it reminds you of though is is that there are now so many manifestations of the impact of climate change already on us that again, nothing is predictable anymore. The only thing I think that is predictable as is being demonstrated season after season after season. Is that is that whatever weather patterns we've had in the past we're going to have in spades and we're going to have with greater intensity and at greater cost. Sorry

Julia Zemiro  43:02  
Jesus Christ

Kerry O'Brien  43:04  
was I say never asked a question you don't know the answer to

Dan Ilic  43:07  
what out what up Jay Z asked who cares? Sure, boy, Jay Z make some noise. No, by Jay Z joins me right. This is Julius Amira asks, Who cares?

Julia Zemiro  43:19  
Thank you, Kerry O'Brien isn't it great to hear Kerry laugh on to Zara Seidler What an impressive human being she is in her 20s She set up with Sam cars Lasky the daily oz news for millennials. And it's Australia's leading social first news organization. They're on a mission to arm Millennials with the tools they need to begin their own deep dive into the news. Their news recaps and explainers are read by over 100,000 Australians daily 85% of whom are under 34. They've also got a daily podcast you can check out. And it was just wonderful to hear her talk about how they got into this and why they thought it was necessary. And I started by asking her about how she got into it in the first place. And it went via possibly wanting to become a teacher going to Washington to work in politics, and finally getting a gig with Karen Phelps.

Zara Seidler  44:15  
Straight out of school, I thought I wanted to do teaching, I was dissuaded by those around me, perhaps because of my temperament more than anything due to that. I think that people rightly identified that I'm very opinionated, I am quite impatient at times and perhaps needed to go out there and figure out a bit more about the world and then go back to teaching a little later. So I thought I was gonna do my undergrad and then go back and do a Masters of Education. And I mean, still could happen but doesn't look very likely. So I did an international level studies degree straight out of uni, and it's a fairly open degree where you can kind of Have make your own way and figure out what you want to do. Ended up at Georgetown for an exchange and got there the weekend that Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Julia Zemiro  45:10  
Now that's in Washington for people. I mean, that's the heartbeat, isn't it? That's a hard day's politics.

Zara Seidler  45:15  
It is. Yeah, you nailed that. It was quite an awakening, I think that I had thought I was political. And then I went over there and got a whole new sense of what being political really is. My understanding of being political was caring about things. And when I went there, it was a full embodiment, it was a head to toe, you know, you have thrown your life into this, it is affecting your day to day in a way that I mean, Trump really brought a new sense to, to engage during one's everyday life. But I will acknowledge that I had had a privileged upbringing where I chose issues that mattered to me and I cared deeply about those, but day to day wasn't really affected by decision making. And so I got to see that up close when I went to DC. And I also did a fellowship with Hillary Clinton's campaign director, who was obviously quite jaded post election. And so it was this just really, yeah, it was really quite life changing. I mean, I was extremely young. So

Julia Zemiro  46:29  
how can we didn't turn you off, though?

Zara Seidler  46:32  
I just honestly, and it sounds so contrived, the passion that people had the fact that this guy was still going into Georgetown, and teaching a bunch of teenagers about politics…

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