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


Inextricable links

Globalism or nationalism, does it have to be an either/or or are they inextricably linked? Are high status people more likely to lie to protect their position and are the rest of us more likely to believe them? Better go and get yourselves a big cold glass of milk...or maybe not...perhaps a kidney transplant instead.


Wolf warrior?

Over the last 12 months or so the relationship between China and Australia has been turbulent. Is this because of China's aggressive 'wolf warrior' diplomacy and how has the region responded? Why don't we hear about African terrorism and was the decline of the Roman Empire a very good thing for humanity? We can learn a lot about a population by what they flush down their toilets. Why are Americans so hesitant to engage in waste water studies?


Social and spreading

What happened to social democracy? Individuals today are being seen by the colour of their skin and not the content of their character, but at what cost? Should we be planting more and more trees wherever there is a space or should we be thinking more carefully about where to put them?


Backwards and forwards

In recent years it had seemed that democracy was being embraced in Southeast Asia. What happened? How have cities changed over the last year and after the abolition of slavery what happened in Africa, particularly in West Africa? Can miners and geologists work together to preserve and protect fossils? In New Zealand they .


Outages and songs

As we slowly begin to emerge from the COVID_19 pandemic, what kind of shape is Australia in? How effective has the internet and social media been in the Myanmar coup? Very, if you're one of the ruling generals. Normally, if a cow has a disease that effects its ability to reproduce it's put down but what happens in India where cows are sacred? A species of bird is forgetting how to sing, can it be taught how to sing out loud ?


Politics and problems

Is democracy under threat and if it is what can we do to reverse the trend and secure it into the future? Government rorts are infuriating. Why do they happen and why does there seem to be nothing can be done to stop them? Have you ever walked out of one room and into another and forgotten why you were there? Can there be some good news from fake news, especially for vulnerable wildlife? Yes there can.


Fears and wonders

Can maps be racist? Specifically, is the Mercator Projection, conceived in 1569 to help sailors navigate the oceans, racist? What, if anything, can bankers learn from pastoralists and what can nature teach us to avoid network collapse? Is your bunker ready for the apocalypse? Do you have food, water and medicine stashed away?


Today, tomorrow and yesterday

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused world-wide disruption but does this mean that Australia needs to change its strategies, particularly in Asia? In an age of fake news and polarizing political debate do we need to teach students more about, and have them practise, critical thinking? Was there ever really ancient environmental wisdom or is it a myth and are sulpher-crested cockatoos loveable larrikins or noisy pests?


Conflicts and power

What has been happening in Tigray, Ethiopia's most northern region, over recent months? Why don't we know more about this conflict and how might it end? In an attempt to overcome racism have we become more racist, however unintentionally? Did you know that in the early 1900's Thomas Edison drove an electric car driven by a nickel-iron battery? 100 years later this battery has come into it's own. Also, it's time to get up, the curious history of waking people up.


Past and present

Is Alexei Navalny a serious threat to Vladimir Putin? How innovative is language and just how and why does it change? Have we confused knowledge with critical thinking and what's the difference between them? Scientist are looking to the past to predict the future, so where does a Spruce that was thought to be extinct fit in?


Aggressions and questions

What is grey-zone aggression and why is it being used? Angela Merkel has a few months left as Chancellor, what can she achieve or what should be achieved before she does? Did countries in East Asia, with a focus on Japan, accept westernization when it came? Not as much as wight think they did. We hear a lot about England, Scotland and Northern Ireland but what about the other country in the United Kingdom, what about Wales? How has gone since the 1998 devolution?


Eyes and ears

Can the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) withstand China's increased activities in the region, and what, if anything, should Australia do about it? Have we reached 'conceptual overreach' when it comes to human rights, health and the law? It would seem so. Why do cognitive scientists and corporations see our minds as predictive machines and the story of Ham, the first chimp in space.


Coups and crack downs

Why did the military takeover in Myanmar on the first day in February? Was it a coup, or was it just a kind of ministerial reshuffle? Can there be peace in the South China Sea? Perhaps a technocratic peace might work. Who funds NGO's? It's probably not who you think and Wikipedia has turned 20 so lets celebrate.


In sickness and in health

The Economist Intelligence Unity has just released its 2020 Democracy Index. Where does Australia rank and how do we compare with New Zealand? A map showing the sites of Indigenous massacres will hopefully be finalised by the end of the year. What does the map look like and what will it be used for? Have you heard of seafood slavery? Right now thousands of men are stuck on boats at seas, what will happen to them? What makes someone a genius? Is it a high IQ or something else?


Sceptic and captured

A sceptic is someone who has not decided, or is not in a position to decide, what is true, right or good. Why then are sceptics now called deniers? As the impeachment trial of the former president begins, is there any precedent for impeaching people no longer in office? Yes there is and it's a gruesome tale. How much have captives' or slaves influenced those who took them? It turns out, quite a lot! We're told to just follow the science, but sometimes there are competing theories so who do...


Surviving and thriving

Over the last couple of decades infrastructure spending, with the exception of China, has been decreasing. Why and how can it be lifted. Do urban ethnographers do more harm than good in speaking for Black communities? Do you have a fight or flight reaction when people stand too close to you? Why is that? Will The Peace Park in Myanmar be able to survive the troubles in Myanmar?


Labels and barks

Can we move beyond the labels progressive and conservative? Why is Coon cheese getting a new name and how difficult will it be choosing a new one? Does science really have to be about hard facts? The fascinating history of dogs and are you feeling a bit peckish? Need a bit of a pick-me-up? How about some rhubarb sprinkled with some ground mummy?


Dirty and make believe

How did Venice cope with the plague of 1575? By using a new practise called quarantine. An interesting tale about how carbolic acid has made surgery easier for everyone and the fascinating libertarian history of science fiction. How good are utopian fictions? Not at all. If you don't fit in, you're out.


Borders and a nice cuppa

Why are international borders causing so much anxiety over recent years? Did you hear the one about Stalin? Life under Russian dictator Joseph Stalin wasn't funny and yet there were jokes. What can the history of the Chinese tea trade tells us about the history of capitalism? Are they linked?


Sickness and song

In recent times there has been much talk about the imminent collapse of the liberal rules based order with Russia and China citied as the main culprits for this destabilisation. Is it true? How did people in Ancient Greece cope with sickness? Can you hear any birds singing right now? Do you think that people in the ancient world heard the same kinds of birds in the same kind of numbers that we do today? When Siri or Alexa speak to you do you speak back? Might we be a little in love with your...