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.


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


Climbing down the ladder

Is Myanmar both a tragedy and a wicked problem and what does it mean for the promised 2023 election? If it goes ahead will it be free and fare or a farce? If the US goes to war with China should Australia follow? Perhaps we need to look back to go forward. The fascinating history of the smile, especially in art and is there an alternative to wind farms? Sure is..flying a kite!


Look! Up in the Sky!

What does having a worthwhile life mean? Is it all about academic achievement and a high wage or it something more? How dangerous and how prevalent is piracy in Southeast Asian waters? Hint, just under a half of all pirate attacks so far this year have occurred in these waters. Superhero movies have recently had their share of naysayers but have they got it all wrong? Space is not the vast empty nothingness we think it is. To protect it should we start thinking of space as an eco-system?


Sting in the tail

Is it time to decolonize Russia? What is the best and worst city to be living in right now? Hint one is Vienna and the other is Damascus. We trust our plumbers but not our politicians, why is that? And the stinging nettle plant, sure the sting has a bite but the potential uses for this plant are endless.


Peculation and paradox

Why has Russia's military been so weak against Ukraine? Is this a new thing or more of a case of ever thus? Antarctica is the most protected and yet the most threatened place on earth. How do we solve this paradox? Did you know that there has been a surge in saltiness in all inhabited continents today. How has it gotten this bad and have we left it too late to do anything? How quickly are wild animals evolving and adapting to problems such as climate change? Quicker than you think.


Clicks and bites

Has American life become 'uniquely stupid? If so how did it happen and what does it have to do with a like button? We need to start feeding the earth, after all it feeds us, but with what? We have the answer in our bodies right now. The world wars produced some of the greatest poetry we know, why have recent conflicts not done the same?


Racing towards?

What is China saying on social media about the war in Ukraine? Might the war offer opportunities to revive the WTO? The planet is now a political entity, how did that happen? Plus we are on the verge of a green steel revolution. If so, how will it work?


Security, safety and hope

What does French President Emmanuel Macron actually stand for? What is Macronism? Why are some shipping companies avoiding the rules and regulations when it comes to the breaking up of ships and what are they doing instead? Nothing good. Plus Chinese people are moving from the city to the country in search of a better life and the gross yet amazing things that animals do to find a mate and to protect themselves.


Ties that bind

Asa result of the invasion of Ukraine should Australia be looking to strengthen its relationship with Europe? Diversity is all the rage but is it all that it's meant to be? Do human beings really have a higher moral value than animals and how much could we learn if instead of architects digging up castles and tombs of noblemen and queens, they concentrated on how the ordinary people lived in ancient times.


Lessons and losing

What if anything can China and Xi learn from the invasion of Ukraine? Were the reports that said that COVID had brought the end of the era of globalisation greatly exaggerated? Do you get FOMO and should we be able to experiment and fail at work sometimes?


Running on empty?

Does Australia have a fuel security problem? Is there a human cost to decarbonising the global economy and how high is it? Why are Indigenous voices missing from the space race and what can be done to fix it and what is life like in Transnistria and other breakaway states?


Locked, loaded and light

Might the Shanghai lockdown be the beginning of the end for Xi? What are the UN doing about the situation in Ukraine and what might the hugely successful way Ukrainians' have used the internet during this war mean for Big Tech? Plus lighting the way forward using plants and animals.


Starting and stopping

It used to be that most startups could be found in Silicon Valley or Seattle, that is no longer the case. Now they can be found almost anywhere. How did that happen? History has a habit of repeating itself; why don't we notice? We also haven't noticed that we are losing the sounds of birds and animals and if we don't start paying attention there will only be the sounds of sile


Fronts and fears

Can we compare Putin's leadership with that of the Queen? What is oikophobia and do you have any? Plus women in military bands and how about some boiled tongue for dinner tonight?


Law and order

Does the rules-based international order actually exist or is it just a bit of a myth? What about the grey zone or even natural laws? Do they work, can they be broken and why do they matter? Plus placebo's. They can actually work even when you know it's a placebo.


On- line and tearing down

Does on-line hate speech really lead to real world extremism? What effect does banning this kind of hate speech have and could it be just as potentially harmful as the speech itself?


Stoics and storms

In these confusing and confronting times might there be some ancient wisdom that we could turn to that will help guide us through? Have Russia and Ukraine always been so inextricably linked? Are there limits to libertarianism and are all natural disasters the result of climate change?


Tulips and clogs?

The Dutch are famous for more than clogs and tulips and cheese, they are also famous for free speech. This contributed to making the Dutch Republic an early modern epicentre of art, learning, publishing, philosophy, and science. What do our Asian neighbours think about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and what does the invasion mean for cyberwarfare. Are you happy? Or maybe content? Which is better?


Hot capital and strange ideas

What is hot capital and why is it on the rise? How big is the threat of chemical waste in our oceans and what can we do about it? Not all fringe ideas are nonsense, some will lead to something important but how do we tell the difference and what happened to the tree seeds on Apollo 14? Are they lost?


Jerks in Space?

The world is full of brilliant jerks, that is people who are leaders that have distasteful traits. How do we balance the very best of them with the very worst? Plus the growth and growth of the Chinese space program and do you hear that bird chirping? Is it saying anything in particular? Probably.


Used masks and dangerous dictators

Where are all of the used masks and personal protective equipment, along with used test kits and discarded vaccine syringes ending up? The ocean. Why? What does history tell us about dictators, particularly in China and Russia, and does that help explain what is happening in both countries now? Why 'Do Your Research' is so manipulative and the worst year on's not 2020, 21 or 22.