The Good Life: Andrew Leigh in Conversation

Our society places a lot of emphasis on 'smarts' but not enough on 'wisdom'. In this podcast, I seek out wise men and women to see what they can teach us about living a happier, healthier and more ethical life.

If there's a guest you'd like to hear on the podcast, please drop me an email to let me know.

The podcast is available through Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your favourite podcast app.

Thanks to 'The Podcast Reader' magazine, many of our episodes have been transcribed. We hope you enjoy reading them.

Transcripts

Annabel Crabb on seasoning, sharing and savouring

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

AC              Annabel Crabb

 

AC              Well, I hate going to the dentist. No, I don’t have cold showers. What you just… A monster. You’re looking for ways in which I might go out of my way to make myself horribly uncomfortable. No, I don’t look for physical suffering in life.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a podcast about living a happy, healthy, and ethical life. Although I’m a politician and an economist, this isn’t a podcast about politics or economics. It’s about living a good life, which is an idea that goes back to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. What Aristotle meant by a good life was the life that one would like to live, a life with pleasure, meaning and richness of spirit. A life that most of us were trying to live until everything else got in the way.

                   In this podcast, I’ll seek out guests, not because they’re smart, but because they’re wise. I’ll speak with writers, athletes, and social justice campaigners. With people who’ve been lucky, and those who’ve experienced hard times. I found their stories fascinating, and I hope you do, too.

                   Few people seem to enjoy life as much as Annabel Crabb. She writes witty newspaper columns and thoughtful books. She’s created television shows Kitchen Cabinet and When I Get A Minute with Leigh Sales, and does a radio podcast called Chat 10 Looks 3, the title which I think is a nod to Chorus Line, if I’m not mistaken. She has three children, Audrey, Elliot and Kate, and seems to manage to spend a surprising amount of time with them.

                   Annabel’s latest work is a cookbook titled Special Delivery, Favourite Food to Make and Take. Co-authored with Wendy Sharpe, it’s not just a set of recipes, it’s also a love letter to the art of cooking.

                   One of the reasons I’m doing this podcast is because I want to find people who know more about topics than I do. And what could be a bigger knowledge gap than between Annabel and me on cooking? I love food, but I’ve never been much of a cook. Annabel gets so much pleasure from it that I want to learn more. What role can cooking play in a good life?

                   I also want to explore different philosophies to living a good life, and I think I may have found Australia’s leading proponent of the epicurean philosophical tradition. I’ll come back to that. Annabel, thanks for joining me.

AC              It’s a pleasure.

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David Gonski, the chairman of everything

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

DG             David Gonski

 

DG             My principal tip is to listen. It is amazing how many people go to meetings, be they chair, director involvement, to hear their own voice and not to listen to others.

AL               My name is Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a politics-free podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers, about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   David Gonski has been called the Chairman of Everything. He has chaired Coca-Cola, Hoyts, Film Australia, NIDA, the Australian Stock Exchange, the Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Grammar, the Australia Council, Investec, Morgan Stanley, and the Future Fund. He’s currently the Chancellor of the University of New South Wales, the Chair of ANZ Bank and the President of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Trust.         

                   Born in South Africa, David’s family moved to Australia in 1961, when he was seven years old. He attended Sydney Grammar and the University of New South Wales, where he won the University Medal. He joined Freehills and became their youngest ever partner at age 25.

                   There’s a Zelig-like quality to David. He was the co-executor of Kerry Packer's will and has written half a dozen reports for governments, including one for the Howard government on corporate philanthropy, and school funding reports for the Gillard and Turnbull governments. He and his dermatologist wife, Orli Wargon, have three adult children. And for a frighteningly busy man, he has a talent for looking calm. David, thank you so much for joining me on The Good Life podcast today.

DG             It’s a pleasure to be here.

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Bill Crews on Exodus, Talkback and Compassion

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

BC              Bill Crews

 

BC              And it was like time stood still. And it must have been a millisecond, but it’s eternal. And there was like a voice, but there wasn’t, there was just a knowing. And it said, you’ve got to leave your job, you’ve got to come and work here, you’ve got to work with the poorest of the poor.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to the Good Life. A politics free podcast about living a happy, healthy, and ethical life. In this podcast we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full with humour, pleasure, meaning, and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life.

                   If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends, or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Bill Crews is one of Australia’s great social justice churchmen. Uniting church minister in Ashfield, he established the Exodus Foundation which provides meals, healthcare, and education. And operates an outreach fan that helps the homeless.

                   Bill’s been involved in drug rehabilitation, education, and prevention programmes. Created the First Life Education Centre with Ted Noffs. And is active in public debates around refugees, poverty, institutional child abuse, poker machines, and homelessness. Bill, thanks for joining the Good Life podcast.

BC              Thanks Andrew.

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Robert Dessaix on dalliances, language and leisure

Speaker Key:

RD              Robert Dessaix

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

RD              But the siesta, no, I am completely committed to the siesta, as is my partner and my dog. At 1:30 we all go to the television room where we have recliners and we sit in a recliner, put our heads back and have half an hour’s siesta. This is an act of resistance. This is thumbing our nose, this is cocking a snook at capitalism. And so that’s what we do.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh and welcome to The Good Life, a podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. While I’m a politician and an economist, this isn’t a podcast about politics or economics. It’s about living a good life, which is an idea that goes back to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. What Aristotle meant by a good life was the life that one would like to live. A life with pleasure, meaning and richness of spirit, the life that most of us were trying to live until everything else got in the way.

                   In this podcast, I’ll seek out guests not because they’re smart but because they’re wise. I’ll speak with writers, athletes and social justice campaigners, with people who’ve been lucky and those who’ve experienced hard times. I found their stories fascinating and I hope you do too.

                   Robert Dessaix is the quintessential Australian public intellectual. You may know him from hosting Books and Writing on ABC Radio from 1985 to 1995. Or from more than a dozen books including novels, editor’s collections, nonfiction works and two autobiographical volumes. Born in Sydney, Robert never knew his father, who was killed in a plane crash shortly after Robert’s birth. He was adopted at a young age by Tom and Jean Jones and educated at North Sydney Boys High and the Australian National University.

                   Robert worked as an academic, a translator and a radio producer before becoming a full-time writer two decades ago. Among his best known works are A Mother’s Disgrace, Night Letters, Corfu, And So Forth, Twilight of Love, and The Pleasures of Leisure, which he is currently promoting. Robert lives in Battery Point with his partner of some 30 years, writer, Peter Timms. Robert, thanks so much for joining me on The Good Life podcast today.

RD              It’s my pleasure, Andrew.

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Susan Carland on Islam and authenticity

Speaker Key:

SC              Susan Carland

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

SC              For me, it was very much like, I remember there were a couple of friends that really didn’t want to know me after I became Muslim. And I remember feeling sad, thinking, if this were you, if the roles were reversed and you came to me with something else, I would want to stand by you. And so that was quite sad to me.

                   But then it was also, I saw it as a good separating of the chaff from the grain. Maybe our friendships weren’t what I thought they were and so be it. I think that’s also when you know you really want to do something sincerely and with absolute conviction, is when you realise things might go badly after this and I still want to do it.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh and welcome to The Good Life, a politics-free podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full with humour, pleasure, meaning and love. We chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Susan Carland grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Forest Hill, where she practiced ballet, excelled in school and attended her local Uniting Church. In her late teenage years, she decided to explore different religions. At age 19, Susan switched Abrahamic religions from Christianity to Islam.

                   As well as being Australia’s best-known Muslim convert. Susan is a lecturer at Monash University’s National Centre on Australian Studies, a commentator on gender, sociology and religion and co-presenter of SBS’s Salam Cafe. Her second book, published this year, is on Islam and feminism and carries the punchy title, Fighting Hislam. Susan, welcome to the podcast.

SC              Thanks for having me.

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Munjed Al Muderis on his refugee journey and bionic surgery

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

MA             Munjed Al Muderis

 

MA             So I had to face the most challenging decision in my life, should I obey the commands and live with guilt for the rest of my life by violating every single principle I was brought up on, should I refuse and end up with a bullet in my head, or should I escape?

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a politics-free podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning and love.

                   We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Munjed Al Muderis is one of Australia’s most successful refugees, very much in the vein of an Anh Do or a Frank Lowy. He is somebody who has come to Australia from Iraq, leading an extraordinary life both before he came, on the way, and since he’s arrived. He’s a pioneer in the technique of osseointegration, which involves directly grafting limb implants onto humans.

                   His story starts in Iraq, born in the same year as me, 1972, but to much more distinguished lineage. Let’s start, Munjed, with your upbringing. You’re descended directly from the Prophet Muhammad, is that right?

MA             That’s right. Thank you very much for having me here on your podcast. My family are direct-line descendants. The Prophet Muhammad is my grand-grand-grandfather, basically. And in the western, mainly, in different monarchies around Europe, usually blue bloodline goes with royalty and nobility. In the Arab world and, definitely, in the Islamic world, people who have blue bloodline are the ones who are descended from the Prophet Muhammad.

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Paul Grabowsky on making music

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

PG              Paul Grabowsky

 

PG              To use the piano is an extension of you. Sing through the instrument. Make the instrument sing which, when you think about it, is not a kind of a given because the piano is mechanical. You hit a key and there’s all those things that happen and finally a hammer strikes the string.

AL               Welcome to The Good Life: Andrew Leigh in Conversation, a podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teak us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, do take a moment to tell your friends or give us a rating. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Paul Grabowsky is one of Australia’s great musicians. He’s a pianist and a composer of music for film, theatre and opera. He’s won seven ARIA Awards and pushed the envelope in jazz and improvisation. He’s engaged in collaborations with indigenous Australians, worked in Germany for a number of years, and collaborated across a remarkable range of people.

                   His last two albums, for example, are Tryst with Kate Ceberano, which came out in 2019 and Please Leave Your Light On with Paul Kelly, which came out last year. He is an Australian legend and it’s a delight to have him on the podcast today. Paul, thanks for joining me.

PG              It’s great to be here, Andrew, thanks for having me.

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Morris Gleitzman on writing big stories for little people

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

MG             Morris Gleitzman   

 

MG             When I write about some of the biggest examples of the worst behaviour that our species is capable of, I do it always in a context where there are examples of the best.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a politics-free podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers, about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends, or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   If you have children, you’ll know Morris Gleitzman, one of Australia’s leading authors of books for kids. He’s written more than 40 tomes, including Bumface, Misery Guts, Toad Rage and Wicked. Earlier this year, he was appointed Children’s Laureate for 2018 and 2019, which, as he puts it, gives him a licence to ruin the land, engaging young readers in a celebration of stories and all the precious things they get from them.

                   Born in 1953, Morris grew up in South London, and moved to Australia at the age of 16. He started writing for the screen, and then produced his first novel in 1987. He’s energetic, engaging and life-loving. And I’ve come to his home in Brisbane to learn more about what makes him tick, and what we can learn from a great writer about living a better life. Morris, thanks for joining me on The Good Life podcast today.

MG             It’s my great pleasure.

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Michael Kirby on love, luck and the law

Speaker Key:

MK             Michael Kirby

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

MK             So I don’t go along with the view that everybody on one side is good and everybody on the other is bad and that you should hate people of a different political or religious or sexual persuasion. I suppose this has come from my own experience learning about myself and learning how people really seriously hated gay people. And there are still people who hate them.

AL               My name is Andrew Leigh and welcome to The Good Life, a podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. Although I’m a politician and an economist, this isn’t a podcast about politics or economics. It’s about living a good life, which is an idea that goes back to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. What Aristotle meant by good life was the life that one would like to live. A life with pleasure, meaning and richness of spirit, the life that most of us were trying to live until everything else got in the way.

                   In this podcast, I’ll seek out guests not because they’re smart but because they’re wise. I’ll speak with writers, athletes and social justice campaigners, with people who’ve been lucky and those who’ve experienced hard times. I found their stories fascinating and I hope you do too.

                   One of my favourite songs from the musical Hamilton is Non-Stop. It’s about the incredible written output of Alexander Hamilton. Economic ideas, constitutional thoughts and letters. But the song could just readily have been written for Michael Kirby. His voluminous output spans books, speeches, United Nations reports and, of course, legal judgments.

                   During his time in the New South Wales Court of Appeal and the High Court of Australia, Michael Kirby shaped a distinct jurisprudence, heavily influenced by international law and human rights. He did not always bring his fellow judges on board, however, and his dissent rate is the highest in the history of the High Court.

                   In 1997, 1998, a year out from law school, I had the privilege of working. I was one of Michael Kirby’s two judge’s associates. I answered the telephone, put thousands of letters in envelopes, made hundreds of cups of Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea and occasionally even had the chance to do some legal research.

                   Over the 12 months I was in the role, I learned more from Michael Kirby than from anyone except my parents. He taught me not just about the law but also about how to disagree without being disagreeable. He is without doubt a national living treasure. And it’s a pleasure to have the chance to speak with him today on The Good Life. Michael, thank you for joining me.

MK             Thank you very much. I’m so moved by that introduction. I’m searching for a hanky to wipe away the tears that have accumulated over the years. But it’s nice to see you again. And I congratulate you on your public career. It’s wonderful. I’m very proud if I had any influence on your career.

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Linda Burney on love, loss, racism and hope

Speaker Key:

LB              Linda Burney

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

LB               It’s the humble acts of individuals that change things, not the big sweeping changes of parliaments and big statements from famous people. It’s what you can do that makes a difference.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a podcast about living a happy, healthy, and ethical life. Although I’m a politician and an economist, this isn’t a podcast about politics or economics. It’s about living a good life, which is an idea that goes back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. What Aristotle meant by a good life was the life that one would like to live, a life with pleasure, meaning, and richness of spirit, a life that most of us were trying to live until everything else got in the way.

                   In this podcast, I’ll seek out guests not because they’re smart, but because they’re wise. I’ll speak with writers, athletes, and social justice campaigners, with people who’ve been lucky, and those who’ve experienced hard times. I’ve found their stories fascinating, and I hope you do too. In over 20 episodes of The Good Life podcast I haven’t yet had a serving politician on the show. To be clear, I don’t have a bias against them. Some of my best friends are politicians, but this is a podcast about living a good life, not a policy cast.

                   So, today is a first, but my guest is pretty used to being number one. She was the first Indigenous graduate of Mitchell CAE, the first Indigenous person to serve in the New South Wales parliament, and the first Indigenous woman in the Federal House of Representatives. Linda is a Wiradjuri woman who worked as a teacher at Lethbridge Public School before entering the public service, ending her public service career as director general of the New South Wales Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

                   If you did the Reconciliation Walk across the Sidney Harbour Bridge in 2000, you have Linda to thank. In 2003, Linda entered the New South Wales Parliament, where she rose to become deputy opposition leader. Last year, she shifted to federal politics and is now the shadow minister for Human Services. The best thing about this is that I get to sit next to her in question time. From this vantage point, I can attest that she is often witty, sometimes acerbic, and always impeccably dressed. Linda, thanks for being on the podcast today.

LB               Thank you, Andrew. That’s a beautiful introduction, and very accurate, I have to say.

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Juliette Wright on Givit and living life like you cannot fail

Speaker Key:

JW              Juliette Wright

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

JW              I said, what is the most beautiful story about my work, about my parenting, about my children, about my marriage? And when I wrote the answer to that, it gave me immediate clarity on who I am and what I want and my best-case scenario.

AL               Welcome to The Good Life: Andrew Leigh in Conversation, a podcast about living a happy, healthy, and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full with humour, pleasure, meaning, and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, do take a moment to tell your friends or give us a rating. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   If you’ve ever thought about making a donation to someone in need, then perhaps you should turn to the GIVIT website. Founded in 2009 by Juliette Wright, GIVIT has helped to auspice more than a million donations. It is a platform used in disasters, but also used in regular times, a kind of a virtual warehouse.  I first profiled Juliette Wright along with Nick Terrell in our book Reconnected and particularly admire her energy and her discussion of the vulnerabilities and challenges of being a non-profit leader.

                   She is Australia’s 2015 Local Hero and somebody who I greatly admire. Juliette, thanks so much for taking the time to join me on The Good Life podcast today.

JW              Thank you so much for having me. I’m really honoured.

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Kurt Fearnley on Kokoda, struggles and gratitude

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

KF              Kurt Fearnley

KF              I constantly wonder about what it is to be Australian, and that track actually taught me, I think, a fair bit about that. The idea is that these average blokes decided to sacrifice everything for their neighbour.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, the politics-free podcast about living a happy, health, and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning, and love.

                   We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers, about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Kurt Fearnley’s a wheelchair racer with three Paralympic gold medals. He’s competed in the last four Paralympics, crawled the 96km Kokoda trail, won marathons in New York, London, Chicago, Seoul, Paris, and Sydney, and crewed the winning yacht for the Sydney to Hobart.

                   He is, quite simply, one of the toughest humans I’ve ever met. He’s been a hero of mine for a long time, and it’s great to have him on the podcast today. Welcome Kurt.

KF              Thanks for the invite.

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Justin Wolfers on impact, feminism and economics

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

JW              Justin Wolfers

 

JW              And it turns out these ethical intuitions over which you might determine tax policy also play out in our lives. Right? At the end of my life I have to write a will. Should I leave the most money to the child who deserves it the most? Should I leave the most money to the child who needs it the most? Should I leave everyone the same amount of money? You can see this exact same morale intuition echo through all of our political debates.

AL               Good day and welcome to The Good Life: Andrew Leigh in Conversation, a podcast about living a happier, healthier and more ethical life. Our society puts a lot of emphasis on smarts but not enough on wisdom. So, this podcast seeks out wise people who can share their insights on passion, grit, love and empathy. We’ll discuss everything from sport to parenting and hear the stories of some of the world’s wisest souls.

                   If you enjoy the podcast, let your friends know so they can share the insights. Now, let’s dive into today’s conversation. I first met Justin Wolfers when we were in Sixth Grade. We’d both been admitted to the same school and our parents decided we ought to meet. We stayed good friends through James Ruse, separated a little and then re-joined paths as economists in our 20s.

                   He was one of the groomsmen at my wedding and is one of the most important soul mates that I’ve got. So, that’s why I’ve invited Justin back for a second chat on The Good Life. He’s back in Australia, a country where he grew up but now visits for a month every year, and he’s working on a range of interesting projects, including a brand stonking new economics textbook. But before we get to that, Justin, what’s it like to be in Australia?

JW              Mate, it’s beautiful. Those of your listeners who are in Australia take the beauty here for granted and there’s nothing like 20 years away to remind you of just how extraordinary the place is. You get off the plane, you get hit by the plane and it’s a certain light you can only see in this country. You see this shade of olive you only see on an Australia eucalyptus. You can get a can of Solo, which is quite a good drink. People are happy. It’s egalitarian from moment you get in front of the cab. The food’s fantastic, the wine’s fantastic, a hell of a way of living, really

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Emily Oster on data, pregnancy and parenting

Speaker Key:

EO              Emily Oster

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

EO              In general when you are pregnant, the first thing that happens is people are like, okay, here are the list of things that you can’t do and the list of things that you should do. I am a person who likes to ask why.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a politics-free podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life.

                   If you like this podcast, please take a moment to tell your friends or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Emily Oster is an economics professor at Brown University. I first met her when she was completing her PhD at Harvard, where she graduated in 2006, before taking a job at the University of Chicago. Emily’s research interests are extraordinarily broad, from the impact of television on gender equality in India, to how people change their eating patterns after being diagnosed with diabetes.

                   But in the public arena, she’s best known for two books, Expecting Better and Cribsheet. Both of which discuss a data-driven approach to decision-making in pregnancy and parenting. It’s these books we’ll spend most of our time discussing today. Both for their wisdom, and for the wise way that Emily goes about gathering evidence to make better decisions. Emily, welcome to The Good Life podcast.

EO              Thank you for having me. It’s nice to talk to you.

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Graeme Simsion on The Rosie Project and being a late starter

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

GS              Graeme Simsion   

 

GS              I’m not that old, but I came to this career in writing quite late. And I hope, brought a whole bunch of things to it that, if I was 25, I wouldn’t be bringing to it. So, I’m interested in sharing with people what being a late starter means.

AL               My name’s Andrew Leigh, and welcome to The Good Life, a podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. Although I’m a politician and an economist, this isn’t a podcast about politics or economics. It’s about living a good life, which is an idea that goes back to the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. What Aristotle meant by a good life, was the life that one would like to live, a life with pleasure, meaning and richness of spirit. A life that most of us were trying to live, until everything else got in the way.

                   In this podcast, I’ll seek out guests, not because they’re smart, but because they’re wise. I’ll speak with writers, athletes and social justice campaigners, with people who’ve been lucky, and those who’ve experienced hard times. I’ve found their stories fascinating, and I hope you do too.

                   In 2013, a novel called The Rosie Project hit the shelves. It was a romantic comedy, but one that appealed to men and women alike. To date, around 2,000,000 people worldwide have read the book, which counts among its fans, Bill and Melinda Gates. The Rosie Project was written by Graeme Simsion, who spent much of his adult life building up a data modelling company, and writing textbooks on questions like the suitability of the 5 Ps framework in database design.

                   But as well as excelling on left brain activities, Graeme’s also managed to publish about a dozen short stories, a dozen short films and plays. The film of The Rosie Project is in production. In this sense, he’s similar to his wife, Anne Buist, Professor of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, who’s also written four novels.

                   In 2014, Simsion followed The Rosie Project with a sequel, The Rosie Effect, which also sold spectacularly well. I’m speaking with him today on the launch day of his latest novel, The Best of Adam Sharp, a book about what happens when long-lost lovers get back in touch. I’m speaking with him in Canberra, a city whose marathon nearly killed him, but created one of the best short stories about running I’ve ever read. Graeme, welcome to The Good Life.

GS              Thank you very much, Andrew.

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Eitan Hersh on why local service beats political hobbyism

Speaker Key:

EH              Eitan Hersh

AL              Andrew Leigh

 

EH              In hobbyism, one thing that happens is it’s more fun to engage in politics where we’re in our bubbles and we don’t interact with anyone we actually need to convince of anything. And if we don’t need to convince anyone of anything, then the way we make most fun of this is by having these us versus them teams. My side is great. The other side is terrible. My side is smart. The other side is stupid.

AL               Good day and welcome to the Good Life, Andrew Leigh in conversation, a podcast about living a happier, healthier and more ethical life. Our society puts a lot of emphasis on smarts, but not enough on wisdom, so this podcast seeks out wise people who can share their insights on passion, grit, love and empathy. We’ll discuss everything from sport to parenting and hear the stories of some of the world’s wisest souls. If you enjoy the podcast, let your friends know, so they can share the insights.

                   Now, let’s dive into today’s conversation. For over 100 episodes, I’ve described this as a politics-free podcast. I’ve steered guests away from partisan issues and policy topics, the ones that occupy my job as a member of parliament. But then this new book came along that made me want to break that rule. The book’s called Politics is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action, and Make Real Change, and it’s written by 36-year-old Eitan Hersh, an associate professor of politics at Tufts University.

                   It’s provocative and insightful, and I found myself discussing it in all kinds of places, most recently on a phone hook-up with climate change activists. Eitan, thanks  for joining me on the Good Life podcast and for prompting me to break my no-politics rule today.

EH              Thank you for having me.

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David Williamson on a life of drama

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

DW             David Williamson

 

DW             You had to read language not just on the surface but in the subtext to get what was really being said, and language was a weapon.

AL               Welcome to The Good Life, Andrew Leigh in conversation, a podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full with humour, pleasure, meaning and love.

                   We'll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast do take a moment to tell your friends or give us a rating. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   If, over the past 50 years, Australia had a national bard it would be David Williamson. David has written 56 plays including the dark social realist plays such as A Conversation or Sanctuary, dramas such as Brilliant Lies, After the Ball, Amigos, Travelling North, Soulmates and Influence, and satyr such as Dead White Males, Emerald City, Corporate Vibes and The Perfectionist.

                   He's produced 20 screenplays including Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously, and five television mini-series.

                   And now he's written an open and honest autobiography called Home Truths. Weighing in at 424 pages, it's unsparing about his career, his mistakes and his relationships. It's a real delight to have David join me on the podcast today. David, welcome to The Good Life Podcast.

DW             It's a pleasure, Andrew.

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David Marr on corruption, truth-telling and big lives

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

DM             David Marr

 

DM             I975 was where I saw conservative Australia, supposedly respectable Australia, supposedly conventional Australia, supposedly lawful Australia willing to bet the house, willing to bet democracy itself on getting rid of Whitlam and getting into power. And the sight of that and the lessons of that have never left me.

AL               My name's Andrew Leigh and welcome to The Good Life, a politics-free podcast about living a happy, healthy and ethical life. In this podcast we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full with humour, pleasure, meaning and love.

                   We'll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast please take a moment to tell your friends or rate us on Apple Podcasts. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   David Marr is one of Australia's great writers. Trained as a lawyer at the University of Sydney, he began his career on The National Times and The Bulletin before moving on to The Sydney Morning Herald and now Guardian Australia.

                   He's written major biographies of Garfield Barwick and Patrick White and penned quarterly essay profiles of Kevin Rudd, George Pell, Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott.

                   He's witty, historically informed and superbly read, and his repartee with Gerard Henderson on the ABC Insiders is stuff of legend. David, thanks for joining me on The Good Life Podcast today.

DM             A pleasure so far. I enjoyed your exaggerations in the introduction very much.

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Astrid Jorgensen on Pub Choir

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

AJ              Astrid Jorgensen

 

AJ               The fact that we have this gift of an instrument. The one thing that stops people is that they feel that they’re not good enough to do it. But what a bad reason not to do something because you’re not the best at it. You are still worthy of joy even though you’re not an amazing singer. If singing makes you feel happy, you should open your face and start singing.

AL               Good day, and welcome to the Good Life. Andrew Leigh in Conversation. A podcast about living a happier, healthier, and more ethical life. Our society puts a lot of emphasis on smarts, but not enough on wisdom. So this podcast seeks out wise people who can share their insights on passion, grit, love, and empathy.

                   We’ll discuss everything from sport to parenting. And hear the stories of some of the world’s wisest souls. If you enjoy the podcast, let your friends know so they can share the insights. Now, let’s dive into today’s conversation.

                   Imagine 1 500 people, some slightly tipsy, all singing together Life in a Northern Town. Now imagine that instead of some awful karaoke exercise, they’re singing in euphoric three part harmony. Next month they’ll be back to singing We’re All in This Together or Truly Madly Deeply.

                   Pub Choir is the brain child of New Zealand born Astrid Jorgensen. Trained at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. Astrid worked as a high school music teacher and choral director. In 2017 she and her friend Megan Bartholomew created Pub Choir, which exploded in popularity.

                   The start of this year saw Astrid taking the idea to the United States. Then Coronavirus, and all of the concerts were cancelled. From the shutdown came Couch Choir, which is in my view one of the great connection stories of this chaotic year we’re living through.  

                   Astrid, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.

AJ               Thanks for having me. What a rap. What an intro.

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Ben Quilty on painting soldiers, asylum seekers and Santa

Speaker Key:

AL              Andrew Leigh

BQ             Ben Quilty

 

BQ              Was throughout all those special forces, terrible things happened. Because those men were under such intense and ridiculous, sustained pressure for such a long time. With no way of telling their story when they came back here. I think we are responsible for what happened there, all of us. And trying to blame one person for the crimes of all, in my opinion, all of us, is shameful.

AL               Welcome to The Good Life, Andrew Leigh in Conversation. A podcast about living a healthy, happy and ethical life. In this podcast, we seek out wise men and women who have lessons to teach us about living life to the full, with humour, pleasure, meaning and love. We’ll chat with musicians and athletes, CEOs and carers about making the most of this one precious life. If you like this podcast, do take a moment to tell your friends or give us a rating. Now, sit back and enjoy the conversation.

                   Ben Quilty is one of Australia’s leading contemporary painters. His painting of Margaret Olley won the Archibald. He helped teach Myuran Sukumaran to paint in the time before he was executed in Indonesia for drug smuggling. Ben spent a month in Afghanistan embedded with Australian forces.

                   And travelled to refugee camps with Richard Flanagan, coming home to produce a book showing the Syrian war through the eyes of children. His art touches on everything from masculinity to racial identity. Age 48, Ben lives with his wife and two children in the southern highlands of New South Wales. Ben, welcome to The Good Life podcast.

BQ              Thank you for having me on the podcast, Andrew.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.