Podcast Special: Interview with Heath Whiley

A full length interview with Heath Whiley (University of Tasmania), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “Appointing royal commissions for political gains: is it a bad thing?”

The abstract for the paper is:

    Discourse on royal commissions indicates that they are appointed for either policy advisory or inquisitive reasons. Recent trends in Australia point to a third reason for the appointment of royal commissions, namely their appointment for political advantage. This paper argues that a political advantage through a royal commission occurs through blame avoidance, the shaping of the political agenda and to gain a political edge over competing parties or interests groups. Reviews of recent royal commissions into trade union corruption, natural disasters, child sex abuse and the home insulation program illustrates a developing trend for them to be established for political gain. The act of establishing a royal commission for political advantage can quite commonly be seen as politicising its process, recommendations and conclusions. This can limit its effectiveness because a royal commission is independent from the government that establishes it. This research recognises the seriousness of each royal commission it discusses, and elaborates on both the disadvantages and advantages of their use for political gain.

Podcast Special: Interview with Joanna Vince

A full length interview with Dr Joanna Vince (University of Tasmania), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled Swimming in plastic soup: Governance solutions to the marine debris problem”, written with Britta Denise Hardesty (CSIRO).

The abstract for the paper is:

    Plastic marine debris has been found in every ocean and coastal area in the world (STAP 2011; Ivar do Sul & Costa 2014). The impacts on the marine ecosystem are profound with nearly 700 marine species being found to interact with marine debris through ingestion and/or entanglement (Gall & Thompson 2015; GEF 2012). It is estimated that three quarters or more of litter in our ocean comes from land-based sources (Hardesty et al. 2014) making this as much a transboundary global problem as a local issue. Governance arrangements, at present, are unable to provide the necessary solutions to large scale mitigation, prevention and/or removal of marine debris. We examine the governance arrangements on a global level, and Australia’s national and local policy responses. We identify community and market based strategies that are making progress with prevention and removal where government policies are lagging behind. We argue that a new, legally binding international agreement will provide guidance to mitigation on a global scale and that nationally a large scale integrated policy approach can make a difference to the marine debris problem in Australian waters. Integrated policy approaches, also known as type VIII policies (Howlett and del Rio 2015) are regarded as the most complex and difficult policy mixes. Despite being been prone to policy failure as suggested by Vince (2015), we argue that due to the complex, transboundary nature of the marine debris problem and the urgency for mitigation, it is the policy solution that may be most effective.

Podcast Special: Interview with Nicholas Munn

A full length interview with Dr Nicholas Munn (University of Waikato), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “Voting, Rights and Compulsion”.

The abstract for the paper is:

    In this paper, I examine the benefits to democratic legitimacy conferred by compulsory voting regimes, and question the degree to which these benefits in fact arise from the fact of compulsion, rather than from other aspects of institutional practice which occur (in a jurisdiction like Australia) concurrently with it. In particular, I argue that a significant amount of the benefit of compulsory voting comes not from the fact of voting being compulsory, but from the infrastructure which is required to reasonably support a compulsory voting system. Where this is the case, it is the provision of sufficient voting infrastructure that generates the democratic advantages appealed to by proponents of compulsory voting, and this infrastructure is positive independently of compulsion. I explore whether compulsory voting is a) necessary for, or b) the best way to achieve, the desired outcomes of widespread participation and resulting legitimacy in democratic outcomes. I claim that we can achieve these outcomes without compulsion, and discuss whether we should attempt to do so.

Happy Holidays! Multiculturalism Show

In which the Nerds take seriously the PMs claim that Australia is the “most successful multicultural society on earth” and discuss multiculturalism, its origins, politics and policy with a diverse (get it) group of guests.  The Nerds also talk about a new book on animal welfare policy in Australia


  • Dr Amanda Elliot, Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Sydney
  • Dr Stewart Jackson, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney


  • Doctor Sev Ozdowski, Director, Equity and Diversity, Western Sydney; Chair of Australian Multicultural Council.
  • Associate Professor Christine Inglis, Honorary Associate Professor, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney
  • Dr Leticia Anderson, National Centre for Cultural Competence, University of Sydney
  • Dr Peter John Chen, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

With show extras! Including a book give away. Ho ho ho.

Podcast Special: Interview with Meagan Tyler

A full length interview with Dr Meagan Tyler (RMIT University), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “The ‘Nordic Model’, prostitution policy, and women’s rights in Australia”

The abstract for the paper is:

    Prostitution policy in Australia is determined at the state and territory level, consequently, there are various approaches taken across the country. Some states have introduced systems of legalisation or decriminalisation, while other states have criminalisation or de facto criminalisation, often based on long out-dated laws. Problems with each of these existing approaches have led to a number of reviews and inquiries regarding prostitution policy in different Australian states and territories since 2010. During this same time period, a relatively new form of prostitution policy has been gaining traction internationally. Originating in Sweden, and increasingly known as the ‘Nordic Model’, this legislative approach is a type of asymmetric decriminalisation: all prostituted persons are decriminalised, but the purchase of sex is made illegal. Central elements of this model include a recognition of prostitution as a serious site of violence against women and an understanding that the existence of systems of prostitution hampers efforts to achieve gender equality. Many of the recent prostitution reviews in Australia mention the Nordic Model, but have most often dismissed it as an unfeasible policy option. This paper will provide a theoretical, thematic analysis of the understandings of the Nordic Model provided in these reviews. In particular, the analysis will consider if and how the elements of the Nordic Model relating to women’s rights, violence against women, and gender equality, are dealt with in the Australian context.

Podcast Special: Interview with Ben Spies-Butcher and Gareth Bryant

A full length interview with Drs Ben Spies-Butcher (Macquarie University) and Gareth Bryant (Sydney University), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was his paper, titled “The Shifting Politics of Financialising Higher Education”

The abstract for the paper is:

    This paper explores the Australian innovation of income contingent student loans as a form of financialised social policy. The expansion of finance has been a defining feature of contemporary capitalism. Within the welfare state, two dynamics have seen a growing role for finance. The first involves the tensions between growing tax resistance from business and sustained support for existing and maturing social provision from the public. That tension generates a ‘politics of austerity’ in which financialised policies like Australia’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) can provide a potential response. The second involves demands from finance markets to ‘unlock’ the relatively secure savings of households. Most advanced in housing and pension policy, this form of financialisation has extended to student loan markets in the United States. Using this framework, the paper argues HECS combined elements of a tax and a loan in ways that confounded standard accounting principles and advanced a ‘Third Way’ politics of social expansion within neoliberalism. However, by shifting the form of policy towards a financial instrument, HECS changed the nature of political contest. The paper uses recent reports from think tanks and the Parliamentary Budget Office to explore how accounting frameworks are becoming an increasingly important site of policy contest and relates this to a broader trend evident in debates over tax expenditures and public private partnerships.

Podcast Special: Interview with Rachel Eberhard and Lyndal Hasselman

A full length interview with Rachel Eberhard (Queensland University of Technology) and Lyndal Hasselman (University of Canberra), recorded at the 2016 Australian Political Studies Association conference at UNSW Australia.

The subject of the interview was their paper, titled “When and why governments and non-government stakeholders engage in collaborative governance of water policy – lessons from the Murray Darling Basin and Great Barrier Reef”

The abstract for the paper is:

    Environmental policy issues are classic wicked problems – where problem complexity and stakeholder divergence resist resolution. In water policy, major water users (typically agriculture) need to change their behaviours. Good governance practice suggests that collaborative strategies are the best approach to resolving wicked problems that involve stakeholder behavioural change. Collaborative governance promises better policy design, greater community acceptance and the negotiation of implementation roles. Influential non-government organisations that represent different communities of interest mediate policy development and implementation through formal and informal pathways. The need to engage and negotiate water policy within and across government, as well as with key stakeholder groups, challenges the traditional hierarchical modes of government decision-making. This paper presents findings from research examining the evolution of water policy in the Murray Darling Basin and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. Adopting a critical realist approach, the research has explored the dynamics of water policy evolution and the roles and institutional logics of government and non-government organisations active in policy dialogue. Preliminary findings document the contexts and mechanisms that have driven institutional behaviour in these two case studies. These offer tantalising insights into how policy debates can be better facilitated to support effective collaborative governance, required to negotiate the resolution of water, climate and other environmental issues that are of critical significance and urgency.

Don’t Mention His Name Show

In which the Nerds tap the expertise of the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney to unpack the fallout and implications of the 2016 US Presidential and down ballot votes.



Including podcast extras!