Final Draft: Harmless by Julienne van Loon

Prisons - -JvL- (Flickr)

Prisons – -JvL- (Flickr)

Harmless is the latest novella from Australian author Julienne van Loon, who was at the Sydney Writers’ festival to chat about novellas as a literary form. It’s a very layered, intricate book full of mysterious characters who embody the contradictions and complexities of modern suburban Australia, but it was actually inspired by a collection of ancient Buddhist stories called the Jataka.

The book follows eight year-old Amanda and elderly Thai man Rattuwat as they try to make their way to a prison to visit Amanda’s father.

I had a chat with Julienne about Harmless.

Julienne actually lives where her book is set – the outskirts of Perth. I started off by asking, “What was it about this landscape and the social milieu that inspired you?”

This was first broadcast on 2SER’s Final Draft on June 1.

Lemon, Lime and Bitters


Two of my good radio friends and I – Tawar Razaghi and Miles Martignoni – decided to enter the Third Coast International ShortDocs Challenge. The challenge was to make a short radio documentary that was somehow related to “appetite” and presented in three “courses”. It also had to have a taste word in the title. Our end result could not have been called anything other than Lemon, Lime and Bitters, fixated as it was on one man’s quest for intoxication and the resulting unease this was causing for his lady friend.

We don’t know which docs were shortlisted yet but we are crossing our fingers! (Or pressing our thumbs, as the Germans would say.)

The Friday Daily – Electoral funding farce

This week in politics was dominated by a failed bill that would have provided more public administrative funding to political parties and impose tougher rules on donations. Tony Abbott withdrew support for the bill, saying “the people have spoken”. What were the people saying? And who comes out looking the worst from this whole episode? Crikey’s man in Canberra Bernard Keane chatted to me on The Friday Daily on May 31.

The Friday Daily – Could algae power Australia?

Algae - Brian Goodwin (Flickr)

Algae – Brian Goodwin (Flickr)

Finding alternative sources of energy is high on the country’s agenda – or at least it should be. Julian Cribb is a science writer who believes that Australia could feed and power itself using algal biofuels. He joined me on The Friday Daily on 2SER on May 31.  


The Friday Daily – Spoken word artists in the studio


L-R Scott Sandwich, Jo Sri, yours truly and Miles Merrill.

This was the BEST FUN. Spoken word artists Scott Sandwich, Jo Sri and Miles Merrill came into the 2SER studios and performed live on the air. Their ways with words were really something.

The artists were out and about for Sydney Writers’ Festival, in collaboration with Word Travels.

This was first broadcast on May 24th’s Daily on 2SER.

The Friday Daily: Urban Foraging with Diego Bonetto


This is the side of my house. Maybe there is a feast growing there!

I went exploring with Diego Bonetto, who takes city folk on tours to teach them what edible plants are growing in their own backyards. It’s all about a renewed connection to our environment, and recovering lost knowledge.

This was first broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER, on May 17.

The Friday Daily: Elections in Pakistan

I spoke to Associate Professor Claude Rakisits from Deakin University about the recent elections in Pakistan. The presumptive Prime Minister is Nawaz Sharif, although there were allegations of vote rigging from his opponent, Imran Khan. It remains to be seen how the new leader will deal with the Pakistani Taliban.

This was first broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER, on May 17. As of next week I will be that show’s new presenter.

(Correction from Claude: The PPP came 2nd, not 3rd.)

The Friday Daily – Newstart is too low

Last week the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) held a community conference in Redfern to call for changes to income support in tomorrow’s budget. I went along to hear all about it.

This package was originally broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER.

The Monday Daily – Two sides of the sweatshop story

New Sewing Machine (practicecactus, Flickr)

New Sewing Machine (practicecactus, Flickr)


This week I took over The Monday Daily on 2SER while the regular host was absent. The show featured two interviews about clothing manufacturing – a reflection on the recent sweatshop disaster in Bangladesh, and an insight into how a group of Australians is working to protect manufacturing workers from exploitation. These interviews were live on air.

Here Daisy Gardener from Oxfam Australia chats to me about what can be done to prevent future tragedies like the recent factory building collapse in Bangladesh.

Penina Huho is the Creative Director of No Sweat Fashions, an Australian initiative  that provides support and training for newly arrived refugees and other migrants to work in manufacturing and garment making. It’s a positive story from the fashion industry.

Final Draft: Interview with Romy Ash


Congratulations to Romy Ash, whose first novel Floundering has been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin prize!

I spoke to the Melbourne writer and food blogger about the book, which is sparse and disturbing, but captures the feeling of driving across the Australian landscape like nothing else.

This interview was first broadcast on Final Draft, 2SER’s literature show, on May 4.