British Columbia up in flames

Every year fires rage across Canada, but this year is shaping up to be extreme. More than 4 million hectares have been burnt already – that’s double the average. The province of British Columbia has exhausted all its resources, and those of its surrounding provinces, and last week around 80 firefighters from Australia flew in to help out.

As 2SER’s “Canadian Correspondent” I checked in with The Daily on Monday morning to fill Sydney in.


Monday Daily – From The Archives

I asked my wonderful producer Kim Williams to choose her favourite interviews from my time hosting The Daily every Monday morning on Sydney community radio station 2SER.

Oscars Buzz with Richard Gray – Monday March 3

The 86th Academy Awards were about to begin. Richard Gray from Geek Movie Club joined me to discuss the field and share his hot tips for 2014.  I started off by asking him if it might finally be the year that Leo DiCaprio won a gold statue. (Poor Leo.)


Peter Greste on trial – Monday March 10

Despite worldwide condemnation of the arrests from the White House down, the Egyptian government is pressing ahead with a trial that has already sparked global protests, with many seeing the new military government’s actions as a politically motivated assault on the freedom of the press.

I was joined to discuss both the Egypt case and the increasingly dangerous world environment for journalists by the Executive Director of the International Press Institute in Vienna, Alison Bethel McKenzie, who began by outlining the charges the Al Jazeera journalists were up against.

Unfortunately, the situation is pretty much the same now in June as it was in March.


How has the BBC handled claims of bias? – Monday February 10

By mid-February it had been a heady couple of weeks for the media following the ABC’s reporting of asylum seeker claims that the Australian Navy deliberately inflicted burns on asylum seekers.

The explosive story shone a light on the role of our national broadcaster: the line between its independence and duty to report the facts without political interference and its responsibility to report those facts truthfully and without bias.

The BBC is no stranger to politicians at times launching attacks on its objectivity, labelling it biased and calling for a review of its practices.

So how has it fared over the years in the face of such attacks? Angela Phillips, a reader in journalism at Goldsmiths University of London gave us her insight.

I began by asking her about an incident where London’s colourful mayor, Boris Johnson had a go at the BBC for being biased when during an episode of its hit show “Sherlock”, a mocked up newspaper flashed up on screen containing a story claiming the Mayor of London, in a hair-brained scheme, planned to turn the Thames into a motorway. Johnson wasn’t mentioned by name but he claims it was a thinly disguised attack by the BBC to portray him as dithering, incoherent and self interested.



Fourth Estate – Lucie as host for International Women’s Day



I’ve been busy making radio. One radio thing I do every week is produce Fourth Estate, a half-hour media and current affairs panel show for 2SER and the Community Radio Network. The show is now on the WalkleyTalks Podcast as well. So, we’re everywhere.

For the special occasion of International Women’s Day, 2SER broadcast special programs all day on March 8th and one of them was an all-female edition of Fourth Estate. I made my hosting debut. My guests were Kathy Novak from SBS, Joanne McCarthy from the Newcastle Herald (who won last year’s Gold Walkley) and Melanie Withnall, who is the Managing Director of 2SER. We spoke about how women rise through the ranks in the current media landscape, who’s getting interviewed the most and women who are making the news.

Please listen. 



Weapons of Mass Deception – my interview with Norma Percy



I was very excited to be able to interview Norma Percy, an amazingly accomplished documentary filmmaker whose latest work, The Iraq War, explores the murky origins of the conflict, the machinations of the war itself and the depressing aftermath.

This was first broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER.

Is the US a failed state?


I’m back on The Daily on Friday mornings. Every week I chat to Ed Blakely, Honorary Professor in Urban Policy at the US Studies Centre (at the University of Sydney) about what’s happening stateside and around the world. Last week was particularly interesting – gun violence, the “Prison Industrial Complex” and race relations in America.

This was first broadcast on 2SER on August 23.

Final Draft: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


WWII_London_Blitz_East_London (Inf-Lite Teacher, Flickr)


Life After Life is British author Kate Atkinson’s 8th novel. It’s about the many many lives of Ursula Todd, who is born many times on a winter’s night in England in 1910 and dies in many different ways – Spanish Flu, The London Blitz and various accidents. It’s all about the many twists and turns one person’s life can take and how that affects where we all end up, and at the same time illustrates what it was like to be a woman in 20th century England.

There is a whole lot of detail about day-to-day English life in the book, including some descriptions of awful-sounding food. I had fun asking Kate about that.

Kate came out to Sydney for the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and I caught up with her in her hotel lobby. I started off by asking how Kate came across the idea of telling a story through one individual’s many lives and deaths.

This was first broadcast on 2SER’s Final Draft on June 8.

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.

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 – 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 – Fazil Say is not alone

Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say

Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say

This week acclaimed Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say was given a suspended 10-month sentence for blasphemy on Twitter. Although the international community was surprised that this could happen in a historically secular country, Say’s case is not an anomaly. I spoke to Jess Hill, former Middle East correspondent at The Global Mail and ABC journalist, about freedom of expression in Turkey.

This was first broadcast on The Friday Daily on 2SER on April 19, which was also my first day as a presenter of The Daily.