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News & Politics Podcasts

The Conversation's editors bring you the most insightful, fascinating, surprising analysis and stories from the academic world. We're asking the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context. Join us as we take a deep dive into the big ideas driving our world.




The Conversation's editors bring you the most insightful, fascinating, surprising analysis and stories from the academic world. We're asking the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context. Join us as we take a deep dive into the big ideas driving our world.




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250 years since Captain Cook landed in Australia, it's time to acknowledge the violence of first encounters

DAVID CROSLING/AAPCaptain James Cook arrived in the Pacific 250 years ago, triggering British colonisation of the region. We’re asking researchers to reflect on what happened and how it shapes us today. You can see other stories in the series here and an interactive here. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners should be aware the podcast accompanying this story contains the names of people who are deceased. It’s 250 years since Captain James Cook set foot in Australia, and...


An honest reckoning with Captain Cook's legacy won't heal things overnight. But it's a start

Uncle Fred Deeral as little old man in the film The Message, by Zakpage, to be shown at the National Museum of Australia in April. Nik Lachajczak of Zakpage, Author provided (no reuse)Captain James Cook arrived in the Pacific 250 years ago, triggering British colonisation of the region. We’re asking researchers to reflect on what happened and how it shapes us today. You can see other stories in the series here and an interactive here. Editor’s note: This is an edited transcript of an...


Childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, menopause, 75+: how your diet should change with each stage of life

ShutterstockIn today’s episode, Clare Collins, a Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle, explains how our diets might need to change depending on what stage of life we’re in. The Conversation’s Phoebe Roth started by asking: what should kids be eating and how much should parents worry about children eating vegetables? An edited transcript is below. New to podcasts? Everything you need to know about how to listen to a podcast is here. Additional audio...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: MPs Tim Watts, Fiona Martin, Clare O'Neil and Helen Haines talk about serving their electorates during the coronavirus crisis

Michelle Grattan talks with MPs Tim Watts (Gellibrand, Victoria), Fiona Martin (Reid, NSW), Clare O'Neil (Hotham, Victoria) and Helen Haines (Indi, Victoria) about how they do their job during the pandemic. They discuss the operation of their electorate offices in light of isolation requirements, and recount how the crisis is affecting their constituents. New to podcasts? Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed,...


What does the coronavirus pandemic sound like? The voices of people struggling, secluding and surviving around the world

AAP/EPA/ANDY RAINWhat does the COVID-19 pandemic sound like? For this episode, Dallas Rogers – a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney – asked academic colleagues from all over the world to open up the voice recorder on their phones and record a two minute report from the field about their city. Many of those who responded to the call are struggling, just like us, to make sense of their experience in the COVID-19 city. The resulting...


Democracy 2025 - How does Australia compare: what makes a leading democracy? With Michelle Grattan, Mark Evans and Ian Chubb

Author provided (No reuse)In this special hour long podcast presented by Mark Evans, professor of governance and director of Democracy 2025, the panel discusses Australian democracy with Emeritus Professor Ian Chubb and Michelle Grattan. The panel dissects the Australian trust in government, compared with other modern democracies around the world. Drawing on the world values survey, the report notes the sharp focus on the quality of democratic governance, especially in the time of global...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty on the coronavirus crisis and the timeline for a vaccine

Dave Hunt/AAPThe coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19, has infected nearly half a million people and taken the lives of more than 21,200. No person in Australia is more qualified to speak on the science of this global pandemic than Professor Peter Doherty. Professor Doherty was awarded the Nobel prize for medicine in 1996 for his work studying the immune system. The Doherty Institute, now at the forefront of Australian research on the coronavirus, bears his name. In...


Coronavirus and COVID-19: your questions answered by virus experts

What do you need to know about COVID-19 and coronavirus? We asked our readers for their top questions and sought answers from two of Australia’s leading virus and vaccine experts. Today’s podcast episode features Professor Michael Wallach and Dr Lisa Sedger – both from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney – answering questions from you, our readers. An edited transcript is below. And if you have any questions yourself, please add them to the comments...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy on COVID-19

Lukas Coch/AAPWith 100 domestic cases as of March 10, federal and state governments and health authorities face daunting challenges posed by COVID-19 in coming weeks and months - securing a workforce of nurses and doctors to treat the sick, ensuring enough testing facilities to meet a rapidly growing demand, and stemming the spread of the virus, to the maximum extent possible. As Chief Medical Officer for the federal government, Professor Brendan Murphy is confident about maintaining enough...


We asked astronomers: are we alone in the Universe? The answer was surprisingly consistent

ShutterstockAre we alone in the Universe? The expert opinion on that, it turns out, is surprisingly consistent. “Is there other life in the Universe? I would say: probably,” Daniel Zucker, Associate Professor of astronomy at Macquarie University, tells astrophysics student and The Conversation’s editorial intern Antonio Tarquinio on today’s podcast episode. “I think that we will discover life outside of Earth in my lifetime. If not that, then in your lifetime,” says his fellow Macquarie...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Keith Pitt on the Murray-Darling Basin, the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, and Nuclear Power

MICK TSIKAS/AAPAppointed minister for resources, water, and northern Australia in the Nationals reshuffle, Keith Pitt was handed a diverse portfolio with some highly contested issues. As water minister, he’ll soon have a report from Mick Keelty on the Murray-Darling Basin, which could spark more fighting between states, and the ACCC report into water trading, expected at the end of the year. “We do need to ensure the trading is fair,” he says. “I’m as concerned as anybody else if people...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Mark Butler on Labor's 2050 carbon neutral target

Kelly Barnes/AAPMark Butler, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, is optimistic that Labor is better placed to prosecute its climate policy at the next election, compared to the last. “I think we are better positioned now for two reasons.” “Firstly, I think the business community has shifted substantially over the last couple of years, and that’s a global shift that reflects particularly the fact that regulators…and investors have recognised that climate change poses a very...


More than 70% of the Universe is made of 'dark energy', the mysterious stuff even stranger than dark matter

ShutterstockYou’ve heard of dark matter. You’ve probably heard there’s a fair bit of it out there in space, and that astronomers don’t know for sure what it is. But, strange as dark matter is, there’s an even more mysterious thing out there in the Universe – and quite a lot of it. Dark energy, believed to be responsible for the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe, makes up the vast majority of space. Today, editorial intern and astrophysics student Cameron Furlong, dives into...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Phil Honeywood on the coronavirus challenge for universities

The coronavirus is presenting a major threat to Australia’s education export industry, which is highly dependant upon the China market, and a huge challenge to the universities. Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia says: “At the end of the day, China is the most heavily populated country in the world, it’s on our regional doorstep and it has an incredible appetite for having their children study offshore.” This podcast was recorded before the...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Adam Bandt on Greens' hopes for future power sharing

Adam Bandt began his political journey in the Labor party, but the issue of climate change drew him to the Greens. Last week he became their leader, elected unopposed. Asked about his ambitions for the party, Bandt aspires to a power-sharing situation with a Labor government, akin to the Gillard era. “Ultimately Labor’s got to decide where it stands, and if Labor decides that it does want to go down the path of working with us on a plan to phase out coal and look after workers in...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Michael McCormack moves on from his near-death experience

Mick Tsikas/AAPStarting the year with a leadership spill will be seen by many, especially those hit by the bushfires, as the Nationals being particularly self-indulgent. Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack admits as much, but notes he wasn’t the initiator of his party’s bad behaviour. “We should not have been talking about ourselves. This was never of my making or doing. And we should have spent the entire day, not just those sitting hours, but the entire day...


'Futuring' can help us survive the climate crisis. And guess what? You're a futurist too

When we are imagining this time, next year, are we limiting our thinking to how we avoid the conditions we faced in this summer? Or are there bigger questions we can ask?ShutterstockEditor’s note: Today, on Trust Me, I’m An Expert, we hear from Clare Cooper, design lecturer at the University of Sydney, on how futuring techniques can help us think collectively about life under a drastically hotter climate. Her accompanying essay is below. Australians, no matter where we are, are coming to...


The Dish in Parkes is scanning the southern Milky Way, searching for alien signals

The Parkes radio telescope can detect extremely weak signals coming from the most distant parts of the Universe.ShutterstockFor John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope, astronomy has been his life’s passion – starting from the age of six. “When I was six years old, I watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon,” he says of the radio telescope made famous in the film The Dish. “In fact, on the cover of my year nine mathematics textbook was a...


'The size, the grandeur, the peacefulness of being in the dark': what it's like to study space at Siding Spring Observatory

Today we hear about some of the fascinating space research underway at Siding Spring Observatory – and how, despite gruelling hours and endless paperwork, astronomers retain their sense of wonder for the night sky.ShutterstockHow did our galaxy form? How do galaxies evolve over time? Where did the Sun’s lost siblings end up? Three hours north-east of Parkes lies a remote astronomical research facility, unpolluted by city lights, where researchers are collecting vast amounts of data in an...


Politics with Michelle Grattan: Grattan and Martin on the year that was, in politics and economics

The Yearbook is a collection of 50 standout articles from Australia’s top thinkers.The ConversationLast week, Michelle Grattan and Peter Martin (economics editor at The Conversation) were in Sydney to launch the 2019 Conversation Yearbook. The event was held at Glebebooks and presented an opportunity for readers to hear Michelle and Peter’s discussion about the year that was, and ask questions. This podcast is an edited recording of that event. New to podcasts? Podcasts are often best...