#1436 Blowing the Whistle

This week we work our way through the government’s changes to national security legislation, and zero in on one change that passed earlier this month – Section 35P of the ASIO Act. The change makes it illegal to disclose information about something called a ‘Special Intelligence Operation’ by ASIO. The problem for journalists is, these operations are declared in secret. So you won’t actually know whether or not you’re allowed to be reporting on it.

So what does that mean for journalists? What could it mean for whistleblowers? What does it mean for us?

The Case of Witness K

Is it so unbelievable to think that a government’s security interests and other interests could become interwoven and start to get muddled up? Well, not really, because it’s already happened.

Dr Clinton Fernandes is an Associate Professor of International Relations and Strategy at UNSW and spoke to Heidi Pett about the Timor Sea Oil Dispute and the case of Witness K.

Park Benches and ASIO in my emails

Mark Isaacs spnt nine months working for the Salvation Army in Australia’s Regional Processing Centre on Nauru. He was disappointed and horrified by what he saw, and eventually broke the confidentiality clause in his contract to write The Undesirables.  He met one of our Features EPs, Heidi Pett, on a park bench near central station because despite or even because of all the technological advances we’ve made, it’s still safer to meet in person. Also we love The Newsroom and would have met in a public library but they were all closed.

Who is Bill Toomer? 

Leona Hameed speaks to Kim Sawyer, an academic and former whistleblower, and sociologist Brian Martin about the history of whistleblowing in Australia. Do we have a culture of disclosure? What stops people from whistleblowing, apart from the law What are the best stories of whistleblowing in Australia? Everyone we spoke to for this piece mentioned the case of Bill Toomer, a quarantine officer who wanted to fumigate a ship. So we figured we’d find out why doing his job would be a reason for dismissal.

This episode was produced by Leona Hameed, Jess O’Callaghan and Heidi Pett.

Thanks to Emily HowiePaul Farrell, Tom Clarke and Dr Suelette Dreyfus for their help in pulling it together.

Presenters:  Michael Brydon 

Community Coordinator: Pip Rasmussen

Executive Producer: Giordana Caputo

Features Executive Producers: Heidi Pett & Jess O’Callaghan

Image Credit: Kate Ter Haar

#1435 In the End

Frank Herbert was an American Science Fiction writer who died in 1986 and he famously said ‘There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.’

But that place can be frustrating. You know that feeling of finishing a really good story? You’ve been living in this other world for so long that when you emerge it feels strange to be amongst real things. Sometimes it feels like a loss, there are no more pages to turn, no more episodes to watch, no more podcasts in your feed.

This week, All the Best explores what happens in the end. The end of a life, the end of a book, the end of something that’s taken you a long time.


The End at Seven Years of Age

All of us ask the question of what happens ‘In the end’ at some point. For some it happens earlier than others, and our reactions vary, depending on the answers we get, or how easily we can distract ourselves from the question. For one girl, the void on the other side loomed large and early, and sparked a premature existential crisis.

Written by Caitlin Doyle Marwick


If I Could

If I could bring back that man you loved with words, I would do that here. If I could curl his easy smile across the page, I would do that here. If I could spread his eyes in pencil lines, and not in photos, I would do that here. But since I can’t, and since they’re gone, I do this here.

Written and Produced by Zacha Rosen

Music credits: ‘How Do You Slow This Thing Down’  by The Gothic Archies, ‘6/8 War ‘ by Leftfield, ‘Doll’s Polyphony’ by Geinoh Yamashirogumi, ‘The Society of the Crossed Keys’ by Alexandre Desplat, ‘The Lutz Police Militia’ by Alexandre Desplat, ‘Check Point 19 Criminal Internment Camp’ by Alexandre Desplat


Book Ends

That feeling that you get at the end of a really good book? The mix of satisfaction and devestation that it’s all over? Jess wondered if authors get something similar. What’s it like when you finish writing a book, and emerge into the real world?

Thanks to the authors who spoke to us for this story.

A.S. Patric is the author of short story collections Las Vegas for Vegans and The Rattler and Other Stories and a novella, Bruno Kramzer. For this story we spoke about his first novel, Black Rock White City, which will be published in April 2015 by Transit Lounge.

 Nicole Hayes is the author of Young Adult novel The Whole of My World, published by Random House in 2013.

Produced by Jess O’Callaghan

Music credits: Johnny Ripper


Presenters:  Michael Brydon and Michaela Morgan

Community Coordinator: Pip Rasmussen

Executive Producer: Giordana Caputo

Features Executive Producers: Heidi Pett & Jess O’Callaghan

Image Credit: azrasta

#1434 Up With The Birds

This is what we want you to do. We want you to google ‘Bird jizz’. Make sure you include the word ‘bird’.

Turns out bird watchers, twitchers, breeders, and birders can be in such a separate world to the rest of us that they use the word jizz to describe ‘the overall impression of a bird garnered from such features as shape, posture and flying style’. They use it all the time, without giggling.

This week on All the Best, we learn a whole lot more about people who love birds. We love them, a bit. We love our overall impression of them. We love their style.

Canaries with bowl cuts

Produced by Michaela Morgan

The Vulnerability of the Superb Fairywren

Dr Michelle Hall says Superb Fairywrens are sometimes considered to be “Australia’s favourite birds”. As part of a research team at Melbourne University, Michelle is investigating the personalities of a population of fairy wrens living at Serendip Sanctuary, near Geelong in Victoria. Not only cute, with bright plumage and sweet-sounding songs, fairy wrens are fiercely loyal. Superb Fairywrens, “marry” partners, with low divorce rates, and form strong family bonds. Michelle spoke to a group of birdwatchers at Birdlife Melbourne about personality and behavioural differences between individual fairywrens. Bec Fary listened in, and found out fairy wren families can be vulnerable

Dr Michelle Hall is a research fellow at Melbourne University’s zooology school, as part of Professor Raoul Mulder’s team – he is an associate professor of animal behaviour and evolution.

Produced by Bec Fary

Twitchers saving the planet 

If you listen closely, there might be a bird twittering outside your window right now. Sometimes we’ll be struck by the closeness of these winged creatures, when seagulls snatch at our fish and chips, or a pigeon finds its way into the supermarket. But when these momentary curiosity builds, birdwatching can become an obsession. Bec Fary went to the monthly meeting of Birdlife Melbourne, where she met with author Tim Dalby. Tim is the author of Where to See Birds in Victoria (Allen and Unwin) and recently published Finding Australian Birds (CSIRO).

You can find Birdlife Australia on Facebook, or at their website.

Produced by Bec Fary

What sort are you?

Are you an ISTJ, ENFP, or an ENTJ? Or perhaps even a D-I-S or C ?

Produced by Joel Carnegie

Presenters: Michaela Morgan and Michael Brydon

Community Coordinator: Pip Rasmussen

Executive Producer: Giordana Caputo

Features Executive Producers: Heidi Pett & Jess O’Callaghan

Image Credit: slimmer_jimmer