ABC (Australia)

Amanda Vanstone tackles key social, economic and cultural issues in Australian life, challenging assumptions and giving voice to new and seldom-heard commentators.

Amanda Vanstone tackles key social, economic and cultural issues in Australian life, challenging assumptions and giving voice to new and seldom-heard commentators.


Melbourne, VIC


Amanda Vanstone tackles key social, economic and cultural issues in Australian life, challenging assumptions and giving voice to new and seldom-heard commentators.




Counterpoint ABC Radio National GPO Box 9994 Sydney 2001 (02) 8333 5116


Unrest and wistfulness

Who is responsible for the crisis in American cities right now? Is it the rich, or corporations, or the system or might it be the city leaders themselves? Who do you think the most influential person in modern history is? Might it be the man who was responsible for the beginning of the start of the first World War? How might Europe have a credible and autonomous defence policy and why does it involve the UK? Is nostalgia a guilty pleasure or a launch pad for your future? Pass me my cabbage...


Moons and mounds

Is racism just about black and white or something more? Where has our sense of grandeur gone and can we get it back? Washing our hands is really important right now but germs and viruses are also important, so how can we make sure we aren't killing any good germs or bacteria or haver the times overtaken us? Termites produce methane gas the same way we all do but their mounds filter about half of it out. How and why is that potentially very important?


Quietly listening

How does China maintain its influence over other countries, and within those countries, the Chinese community? Australia is a middle power, as is New Zealand and a host of other countries including South Korea, but why is it known as a middle power like no other? How did Venice cope with the plague of 1575? By using a new practise called quarantine. The kauri trees of New Zealand are in trouble. Can they be saved? How?


Mothers and others

Is phrenology making a comeback in the form of facial recognition technology? The history of gibberish shows that saying coochy coo to a baby is a good thing. Why is still so difficult to find flour to feed your mother and why aren't the fields of animal health and human health closer?


Conspiracy and colour

What is behind some of the most fanciful conspiracy theories of the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you know what science to believe and when to believe it? What can the history of the Chinese tea trade tells us about the history of capitalism? Are they linked? What is the ancient world's best kept secret and what does it have to do with whiteness?


Legacy, Livid and Leo

What will Angela Merkel's European legacy be? What will war look like in the future? The RAND Corporation have published a report assessing the future of warfare. What does it say? Is being angry a waste of energy or can it be constructively used for your greater good? Right now the world is relying on epidemiologists to get us through the COVID-10 pandemic, but who modelled diseases before this branch of medicine was founded? Astrologists.


Language and connections

Are we more connected than we thought we were? Why is the kind of language that is used during war time being used now? If there is a lighter side to COVID-19 it is in some of the new sayings and terms being used? For example, would you like a quarantini at your is isodesk while we're living through this Miley? Kangaroos have not always been an Australian icon, a new book looks at how they were hunted and killed and portrayed during colonial times.


Puffs of pollution

Is Libya headed for partition? As China and the US increasingly view each other with suspicion, what challenges will Australia face? Why do you believe what you do? Is it because of where you lived and how you were raised? Did you know that cattle produce more methane gas than many large countries, and that most of it is a result of burping?


Economics and borders

What might post COVID-19 China look like? Will they lead the global economic revival or will it struggle? Why are international borders causing so much anxiety over recent years? Are we at the Kindleberger moment and what is it anyway and was the collapse of Virgin Australia inevitable?


Growing heroes.

What will happen to agriculture after COVID-19, will it be business as usual? Italy may have just eased some restrictions after a complete lockdown but their troubles are far from over. We hear a lot about the scientific modelling that is guiding our response to COVID-19 but what actually is scientific modelling? What is a hero?


Death and home

While we've been paying attention to COVID-19 another killer has been on the loose. That killer is ISIS and they bombing Sikhs in Afghanistan. Last year roughly 155, 732 people died around the world every day. Death, just like tax, is normal, that is, until now. Are you working from home right now? Are you enjoying it? The benefits of working from home have been talked about for the last 50 years. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, or live close to a park, now is the time to go out...


Tried and trusted

Can we trust China? How? The internet has changed the world but has it also created 'unprecedented concentrations of power, which are making society not only less transparent, but more brittle as well'? Can we compare COVID -19 to the Black Death? Are we nearly at the point, with social media, of needing to legislate and police friendship?


Shock and smells

Will globalisation survive the COVID-19 pandemic? What are some examples of successful public health polices? In the immediate aftermath of BREXIT many British academics and commentators claimed that people voted Leave because they were racist or were yearning for Empire and the good old days. Is this true? How good is your nose? It's all kinds of brilliant!


Power, people and pandemics

President Xi Jinping's rule of China is seemingly absolute, but is all as it seems? Outbreaks of animal-borne and other infectious diseases like Ebola, SARS, bird-flu and CVID-19, are on the rise around the world. Why? How did people in Ancient Greece cope with sickness and disease and how clean is the International Space Station?


Looking back and looking forward

Is Narendra Modi's India a democracy in peril? Might COVID-19 be a disaster without precedent? Civilization has brought millions of people out of poverty, out of hunger, and saved millions of lives, so why does it seem that some academics want to destroy it? Emotions can be tricky and unpredictable but should we be using them more to help us face some of our most pressing problems?


Loyalty, loving and distance

Would you buy something from a company if they didn't agree with the same causes that you do? We know, or have heard about, Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Revolution but did you know that he also went to the Middle East? We know the best way of avoiding the spread of COVID-19 is to isolate citizens and adopt stringent hygiene standards. How is this interpreted around the world? When Siri or Alexa speak to you do you speak back? Might we be a little in love with your technology?


Rules, rulers and ruling

How stable are the autocratic regimes in the Middle East? After the Arab Spring it seemed like possibly the end of authoritarian rule in the region, but was it? Why are there different reactions to COVID-19? Who is getting on with their lives and who is not? Rules are everywhere. Some make perfect sense but others seem to be there simply to annoy us, so how do we know which ones to ignore or break and which ones to follow? Superman has saved the world countless times, he did other things...


Dominance, popularity and fear.

The United States now has to share the globe with other great powers. What has happened to their sphere of influence? Who is in the middle class and is it the same now as it used to be? In the aftermath of the Arab Spring what has decentralisation meant for Tunisia? How are diseases named and why is that important?


Blame and shame

It's easy for politicians to deflect the blame for their own policy errors by blaming someone or something else. Right now, especially in countries with nationalistic tendencies such as China, the Philippines and the United States, the favourite scapegoat is globalism. As China embraces its facial recognition technology for its Social Credit System, is it also changing the Confucius concept of face? Can proportionality save us from the wackiest of the woke? The beloved Aussie icon Holden...


Power, Puns and People

Two years after Robert Mugabe was swept from power, how is his successor Emmerson Mnangagwa faring as President of Zimbabwe? The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper reinforced Australia's commitment to the Indo- Pacific region. Might this have been a mistake? Did you hear the one about Stalin? Life under Russian dictator Joseph Stalin wasn't funny and yet there were jokes. Is there a difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence and what effect will either have on our working...