Stan Grant has built an illustrious career as a distinguished Australian and international broadcaster, author and commentator. Over more than 30 years Stan has reported or anchored for the ABC, SBS, NITV, Seven and Sky News in Australia, and for CNN and Al Jazeera in the Middle East, China and Hong Kong.
A Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man, Stan is also a powerful and articulate voice advocating for First Nations rights. The latest of his six books, With the Falling of the Dusk, draws on his personal experiences reporting from the front lines of the world’s flashpoints to explore what is driving the world into deep crisis and how it might be averted.
He has received a string of prestigious international and Australian awards, including the Walkley Book award for his evocative best seller, Talking to My Country. In 2016 he was appointed to the Referendum Council on Indigenous Australians.
Stan was previously Professor of Global Affairs at Griffith University and is now Chair of Indigenous/Australian Belongings at Charles Sturt University and International Affairs Analyst at the ABC.
Griffith was proud to welcome such an articulate and thoughtful commentator as Stan for the conversation with Kerry O’Brien in its A better future for all series. Join Stan and Kerry as they explored the opportunities and challenges facing our rapidly and unpredictable changing world order, and what the future might hold for all Australians.
Stan Grant is a Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man. A journalist since 1987, he has worked for the ABC, SBS, the Seven Network and Sky News Australia. From 2001 to 2012 he worked for CNN as an anchor and senior correspondent in Asia and the Middle East. As a journalist, he has received a string of prestigious international and Australian awards. In 2015, he published his bestselling book Talking to My Country, which won the Walkley Book Award, and he also won a Walkley Award for his coverage of Indigenous affairs. In 2016 he was appointed to the Referendum Council on Indigenous recognition. Stan was previously Professor of Global Affairs at Griffith University and is now International Affairs Analyst at ABC.
Uncle John Graham: Baugull nyungai, jimbelungs – g’day friends. My name is John Graham. I’m a Kombumerri man, a Saltwater man of the Gold Coast region. Our people are part of the Yugambeh language group. These lands stretch from Logan River in the north to Tweed in the south, to the other side of the Great Dividing Range is out past Beaudesert and up to a place called Teviot Brook and bordered by the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Kombumerri people’s land stretch from the Gumarra Gumarra, Coomera River in the north, to the Tweed, to the foothills of the mountains. At all welcomes that I do, I’d like to acknowledge and pay my respects to Elder’s past, present and emerging. For our people fought the good fight in dark and desperate times, in order for people of my generation, to work with other Australians towards a reconciled nation in order for us to leave a legacy for our young people, for they’re the bearers of the flame, the keepers of knowledge and keep our culture strong into the future. I also pay my respects to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across this nation. And I pay my respects to the Spirit of this Nation and our people, which includes all of you here at this event. I’d like to acknowledge my ancestor, Warru, who was born on the banks of the Nerang Well, the Nerang River, where I’m situated at the moment, its place of the shovel-nosed ray. She lived along here for many years, and in her later life, lived with their daughter, Jenny, and Andrew, up at a place called Gardner Island, which was just off Brighton Parade, Southport. They were sustained by the abundance of seafood from the river and also the ocean, and generations of our people lived along that place. It’s a special place. Our footprint remains strong in this place, as our sovereignty was never ceded. We are the custodians of this land and always will be. Thanks for listening to me and welcome to this country. I’d like to wish Stan and Kerry all the best with the conversation. And may we all work towards a better future for all of us, Australians. Thank you, until we meet again.
Professor Carolyn Evans, Vice Chancellor and President, Griffith University
Hello, everyone. My name is Carolyn Evans, and I’m the Vice Chancellor of Griffith University, the cohost of this event along with HOTA, Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast. HOTA and Griffith University proudly acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands on which we are meeting. We pay our respects to their elders past and present and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland. Welcome to another chapter of our series of fascinating conversations, A Better Future for All. Due to reinstated COVID restrictions, unfortunately, we’re unable to have this discussion in our usual home at HOTA. So, thank you to all of you for making time to join us for this live stream instead. I know it’s not quite the same as being in a room together, but we are thankful that the event can still go ahead online. For this event, we are thrilled to welcome renowned political journalist and one-time Griffith Professor, Stan Grant, as our guest of honour. A proud Wiradjuri man, Stan has spent the past 30 years working to establish himself as one of the country’s most passionate and respected reporters and commentators. A prominent First Nations advocate for First Nations rights, Stan is both fearless and thoughtful in his approach to exploring issues of national significance. Best known for his fruitful and lengthy partnership with the ABC, Stan has worked with a number of local and international networks over his career, including NITV, 7, SBS, Sky News, Al Jazeera English, and CNN, where he worked as a foreign correspondent. It was during his time with CNN that Stan developed an interest in the then emerging geopolitical giant that is China. His insight into the superpower’s rise to dominance has seen him earn great respect as an expert on the subject, ultimately landed him the role of cohost on ABC’s China Tonight. In addition to his broadcast work, Stan is also Chair of Indigenous Australian Belonging at Charles Sturt University, and was from 2018 to 2020, professor of Global Affairs here at Griffith. Yet somehow, among all of that, he’s also found time to become an accomplished author, having published six books since 2002. His most recent, With the Falling of the Dusk, is a fascinating exploration of the factors that shaped international relations in the wake of World War Two, ultimately creating the global order in which we live today. What was once considered the immutable way of the world is quickly shifting, as China continues to assert its dominance both in the Asia Pacific region and as an international superpower. Drawing on that expertise that served him so well in his role as the ABC International Affairs analyst, Stan examines this and all the other ways in which they establish order is being challenged in the face of changing social, economic and environmental circumstances. To tell a story that is much about how these forces affect us on a personal level, as they do on a global one. We’re just thrilled to welcome Stan, welcome Stan back as our guest, and we’re equally pleased to have Kerry O’Brien once again steering this week’s conversation. As he is one of the country’s most well-known and revered journalists, it’s been such a joy to watch Kerry take them on to these events over the past several months. Using his inimitable interviewing skills to unfailingly bring out the best in our esteemed roster of guests. Bringing these two titans of Australian journalism together is a special event, indeed. I’m sure you’ll agree their chat promises to be a truly captivating discussion about the state of our world, what is what was and what may yet be to come. So without further ado, let me hand over to Stan and Kerry,
Kerry O’Brien: Welcome to this ninth of the Griffith and HOTA conversation series. You’ve been a compelling indigenous voice against racism for more than 20 years now, but particularly since your first memoir, the Tears of Strangers in 2002, I was actually at your book launch that day. And I remember being absolutely knocked out by the story you had to tell and the thoughts that drove that story and the experience that drove that story. Because even though I’d known you as a journalistic colleague, for more than a decade, I had no real inkling of how deeply you had lived that story. I remember you in the press gallery, and this was a pretty kind of private part of your life then wasn’t it?
Stan Grant: Yeah, it was, Kerry, always integral, always a great source of pride to me, something that I thought I was, I needed to be able to establish myself, I was always very conscious of the fact that as indigenous people, we are judged differently and the doors are not as open to us as they are to others. We can be very easily to readily put back into our boxes. And first and foremost, I wanted, I wanted the respect of people like you I wanted people like you, the people I looked up to say this is someone who can cut it is a journalist, who can prove, you know, that he can go out there and compete alongside others. I wanted, I needed that. I needed to know that I belonged and that I was as good as anybody else. And I think I, I didn’t want to carry the load that I knew that being an indigenous person in a public way, can often be a bit. So look, I said, look, I’m gonna go out there, I’m going to be a journalist, I’m going to turn up, I’m going to get there early and stay back late out 10 times as hard. Because I want this to last.
Kerry O’Brien: Stan, there were a lot of people who carried those ambitions who were not indigenous. I did myself. I mean, I was very conscious of the need to earn the respect of peers and my seniors as I was coming through the ranks of journalism too. What was different about it for you? I know one of your favourite authors is James Baldwin, the wonderful American writer, the late American writer. He was a touchstone for you and you said Baldwin sounded like home to you when you first started reading him as a young boy, “we were living in a world that could not see us and Baldwin made me visible”.
Stan Grant: He did. He spoke to me in so many ways, not the least of which is that the book that I first read, Go Tell it on the Mountain, which was a sense, ostensibly, a fictionalised version of his own childhood of growing up in Harlem, the son of a preacher, the issues that he had as a young black man, then well, you know, I didn’t grow up in Harlem. But I grew up in a black community. I grew up in a black church. My uncles were pastors in the church on the mission. Religion was a part of our life, blackness, racism is a part of our lives and Baldwin spoke very powerfully to me, but he also, Kerry, he also spoke to me about how we survive, because we are invisible and to become visible to white people, I can use sort of broad term, is that we are we are either conforming to what why people expect of us, we are objects of pity, or derision, or we essentially assimilate: we become just like white people. It’s incredible, that the more successful that I become, as a journalist, and the more material success I’ve attained in my life, how often people will say to me, oh, but you’re different to the others or you’re not like the others. Well, the others are my family. So, it is different, Kerry, because we’re entering a world that was not designed for us. I share with you a really strong working-class roots and being a member of the working class make do very, very aware of your own difference. But when you add race and indigeneity, to that, it becomes a very difficult process of navigating a world that is not designed for us. Baldwin once said, and I took this to heart, “I have spent a lifetime watching white people and outsmarting them so that I may survive”. And in most more measure in my own, even back then when I first met you, I was watching and I was trying to outsmart people so that I may survive because, you know, when we fall, there is no safety net and there is often no way back and there was no one else there, Kerry. There’s no other indigenous person in the press gallery. There was no other indigenous person in the newsrooms. There was no one I could look to who had trodden that path before me. I was very much alone, very much supported by the likes of you and great friends that I had, but very aware that the rules were different, no doubt about.
Kerry O’Brien: So, I’m going to come back to that in a minute. But I want to know how you managed to break the mold for a young boy living in Western New South Wales in poverty, travelling from town to town and school to school to pursue a future so different from what history decreed should have been your fate. How did you know that?
Stan Grant: A lot of good fortune with timing luck, support an incredible family. You know, mum and dad were born under the coalface of Australian racism. Dad, a black man. Wiradjuri mother, Wiradjuri father, born on the hardscrabble missions of Western New South Wales. Under the rule of the police, every single thing that we know has happened to indigenous people that’s happened to my dad’s family. They were brutalised by the initial invasions forced lands, pushed onto missions, families taken away during the Stolen Generations, incarceration, police brutality, all of the things that we know of the worst of that experience he had experienced and his family had experience. My mother, born into it with a Kamilaroi father and a white mother, which made it even more different again, because being someone who had a white mother, they couldn’t live on the mission, and they lived on the fringes of town. Her mother was stopped having children in the hospital turned away because she was having the children of a black father, she would see her father arrested for drinking alcohol and paraded down the streets with the other black men like they were, you know, slaves or something. I mean, it was, it was, it was a tough life for both of them. They had made a decision. I came along, and then my siblings later, that they weren’t going to live under the hand of the State. They would get off the missions, they would take their chances on the fringes, we looked for work, wherever we did find it. We moved town to town, Dad worked at saw mills, Mum cleaned cars and cleaned houses and did whatever she could to put food on the table. Knocked on the doors of the Smith family, and Saint Vincent de Paul to get a helping hand. And I saw that and I realised at a young age, the sacrifice, I was very aware of my place in it. And I was very aware that that, you know, we had to be 10 times as good. So I worked hard. I didn’t have a classical education. I moved around a lot. But I worked hard. I read voraciously and incredibly, Kerry, you know, I came of age at the time when Aboriginal politics was burgeoning. We had the 67’ Referendum, the 72’ Tent Embassy, the Aboriginal Affairs Department was established, figures like Charles Perkins were becoming prominent in society. By the time I graduated, we’ve had the Whitlam years and the changes that brought. the initial land rights legislation, things were changing, and I caught the tail winds of that. There were Aboriginal people like Marcia Langton, who were great mentors and supporters of me encouraging me to go to university and you know, I walked through one door and another and another and until I found myself into journalism, which really clicked with me. So look, I had to be very lucky. I had to be born to extraordinary parents, I had to have a lot of support and I had to arrive at the right time of history. Very little of it, may I say Kerry, is down to me or any innate gifts or talent.
Kerry O’Brien: It seemed to me that one very substantial element of all of this, apart from the strength and the character, of those role models and mentors you had in parents and grandparents was reading. Reading, it seems to me, was the key to opening up a much wider world for you.
Stan Grant: Everything. You know, Mum said that I started reading before I went to school. And I remember you know, even though I didn’t go I stopped and started about 14 different schools before I got into high school, by the time I finished high school, I think about 18 schools. So, there’s no continuity to my education, enormous gaps. But I read voraciously, I just had this love of words and love of stories. And Mum was a was a storyteller. She would write poems and short stories, and my grandfather was a storyteller. And, you know, whenever mum would go into a Saint Vincent DePaul, or a Smith family or a secondhand shop, you know, you’d see those bargain bins of books that were tossed aside, you grab a handful of them, to bring them home, and it could be anything, you know, I was reading, written mythology, I was reading Dickens and Hemingway and I was, you know, whatever mum found, I read. If I didn’t get it or understand it, I read it. And so journalism was a was a natural home for a voracious reader, someone who didn’t have the benefits of a classical sort of education, a poor kid, but a kid who knew about risks, who knew about upheaval, who was prepared to take risks and live with a lot of volatility in our lives. So, I thought journalism made a lot of sense, it really felt like a natural home. And I know, Kerry, in your case, similarly, to a large degree, you know, education wasn’t necessarily for you at high school, but you came with a thirst for knowledge and a quest for knowledge and a natural curiosity and a capacity to endure and to work hard. And you know, similarly, I think those working-class traits coupled with my cultural background stood me in good stead.
Kerry O’Brien: With one difference, you say, when I was being called a ranga, or bluey or carrot top or a redhead, as a kid, I didn’t think I was being insulted or discriminated against. I only discovered after log after I grown up that the term ranga for many people is supposed to be a disparaging term. So, that’s one big difference between us I never had any sense as a child of understanding what racism was in any way apart from reading, because there was almost no visible indigenous presence in the Brisbane of my childhood. Now, when you arrived at Parliament House as a young ABC Correspondent, Political Correspondent, did you have a sense that others saw us through a different prism to how they saw non-Indigenous people around that Parliament?
Stan Grant: I knew I was, I knew I was different. I knew that I wasn’t like the others. Funnily enough, George Megalogenis, great friend of ours, and was there at the same time, we had a similar age, and we came at the same time, but George and I sort of looked at each other and going, well, you know, he’s a Greek and I’m a black fella, and we were about the darkest there were in the press gallery. So we sort of, we said, the clutch together, and, you know, and found a bit of a bit of a brotherly bond through that experience. But look, I was aware of the difference. But I also found, Kerry, that journalism. And look at you know, it was a, it was a hard place, journalism, that it asked no quarter gave no quarter. And they were irreverent, and by today’s standards, very politically incorrect, and often racist and sexist environments. But one of the things that I did find about journalism, and the press gallery in particular was that results mattered. The story mattered. If I got up at five o’clock and got up to the back door of Parliament House in the freezing cold and stood out there all morning and got up there and did my story in the afternoon and was leaving there at eight o’clock at night to be back there again at 5:36am the next day, and I did those, I did that work. And people looked at my work and you know, you get a little bit of a nod and say, no, that’s that’s pretty well done. That was enough. That was enough to get in, you’re in. You’re good enough you can cut it. And I think that made up for a multitude of sins. I knew it was different. Yes, there was racism, the way people spoke, the offhand racism. But there was something in journalism about being able to cut it, get results, compete on those equal germs that appealed to me and probably got me through that sense of being different.
Kerry O’Brien: In fact, as you’re talking, I’m thinking of parallels and that’s most certainly true of sport. For a long time, sport was almost the only path to that kind of ‘white man’ success, if you like, for indigenous people. And yet that didn’t ,even in recent times that hasn’t shielded, Indigenous Australians from the worst kind of racism when you did that documentary on Adam Goodes. I mean, not that long ago.
Stan Grant: And you know, Kerry, you know, even in race, even in journalism still, you know, that despite the measure of success, I’ve been able to have another indigenous journalist coming along behind us, there is still so much engrained in journalism attitudinally You know, it representationally, that speaks to an inbuilt structural issue of racism, the way that Aboriginal people are portrayed, the stories that are done, the lens that’s constantly focused on deficit and crisis, and disadvantage, that doesn’t reveal the full scope of Aboriginal life, there is still all of those things and, Kerry, you know, even in my daily life, you can still encounter issues of racism. I was filming just out the back of the ABC recently, just doing a stand-up out the back of a cameraman, the camera was actually a Chinese guy, and a young guy in his 20s, but his girlfriend wandering by and as he got close to me, he just said loudly for all to hear, the N word. Um, you know, and that can happen. And yes, you know, we can say, Oh, well, he’s a fool. You know, he doesn’t represent what most Australians think maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, but that it hurts you, it hits you where it hurts. And even with the measure of success I may have had on I’m not immune to feeling this stings of that. I’m also aware, Kerry, that, that even at the ABC, which is very focused on questions of diversity. The fact of the matter is that I’m still an anomaly. And that most presenters, most senior figures are still white Australians who are running programs, reporting overseas, hosting, you know, Insiders, Landline, when it was there, Q & A, 7:30 News Breakfast, is still white Australian, so I’m still aware of that. And I’ll tell you something, Kerry, I still feel as if I’m still having to prove myself that I’m still feel in some way that I’m being judged and, and one mistake and I’ll be out of the club, I just do feel that.
Kerry O’Brien Because you are indigenous?
Stan Grant: I think so because that’s where it comes from. You know, we were always made to feel as if we were the outsider, we’re always made to feel as if you weren’t good enough, and Adam Goodes could win Grand Finals two Brown Lowes. You’re one of the great players of his generation and Australian of the Year and still be kicked out of the club. Still abused. You know, I’m very aware of that. And it does, you know there are there are ongoing feelings of inadequacy, because I look around and the people I see who are my peers and contemporaries. Still not people from my background. And, and I am different to them, even though I’m comfortable.
Kerry O’Brien: Yeah. You said back when, when in Tears of Strangers. Talking about this success, the path to success for you and your conscious drive to succeed, you said then “each step I took was another step closer to becoming white. Until eventually I became a success. Success for a black person can be the white man’s cruelest trick”.
Stan Grant: Because then they say to you, you’re not like the others. Or you become assimilated, that you become indistinguishable and, and in some way,
Kerry O’Brien: So, we choose to invite you into our club?
Stan Grant: In the club, and, and then you’re in the club on their terms, as well, not on your own. And I’ve had to make, I’ve had to make compromises. I’ve had to, you know, cut my suit to fit the cloth, to fit in. There are things, fights I could have had that I steered away from because I had to keep my powder dry. And the other thing, Kerry, is that inevitably, this raises a suspicion amongst your own. Who is he now? Who does he think he is? Does he think he’s better than us? He’s uptown now. I don’t get that to my face as much. Some people may feel that because I’m very strong and very attached to my culture and my family is such a strong cultural family. But I’m aware of it and you know, when success is seen as being white, to be not white and successful is a dilemma. Baldwin wrote about that. Toni Morrison’s written about that, you know, Toni Morrison, why did you write about white people? Is, you know, is being a Nobel laureate not good enough now you have to write about white people? You see, you’re always in the club on someone else’s terms.
Kerry O’Brien: Yeah. And so in that same context, you’ve said that the price of entry to mainstream Australia has been a disavowal of culture and colour and even family. Was that true for you?
Stan Grant: Yeah, definitely. You know what, I had to choose to move away. I had to choose to live away. relationships, even in fantasy-
Kerry O’Brien: But disavowing is something else, Stan. It’s not just moving away.
Stan Grant: Well, the times, Kerry, when I was a kid, and it’s particularly when we moved away from, from rivers and small country towns where there was a big Aboriginal presence in my family was very strong. When we moved to Canberra, and my sister and I are the only Aboriginal kids in the school. And my Dad’s there to pick us up in the afternoon. And I would hang back, because I didn’t see me going up to my Dad. That’s a terrible bloody thing.
Kerry O’Brien: And a very, very human thing, Stan.
Stan Grant: Yeah. And you know, and Kerry, I remember once my Dad picking me up and someone the next day, someone in class said, hey, was that your father yesterday? And I said, Yeah, and he laughed. And you die inside and the little treacheries that we’ve all, you know, the times that you turn away, the times that someone says something that you don’t stand up for your own, because you think I’m not up for the fight, or I don’t want the fight today, or those little disavows, they hurt and they are often the price of entry. And it’s a terrible price to pay every other Aboriginal who’s had some success will tell you that story.
Kerry O’Brien: You quote another US author, Manning Marable “blackness in a racially stratified society is always, quote, the negation of whiteness. To be white is not a sign of culture or a staple of biology or genetics. It’s essentially a power relationship, a statement of authority, a social construct, which is perpetuated by systems of privilege, the consolidation of property and status”.
Stan Grant: Yeah, colour and race are not real. There are no races there is a human race with, with a range of genetic variations, both in groups and outside of groups, often greater within groups than outside of groups. But we belong to a, you know, to homosapiens, we are a human race, the idea of racial division, particularly the idea of blackness emerged with the what we see as the modern world, the post enlightenment, when, when people could conquer other people’s lands on the basis of saying that these people had no government or they were savages, or we could steal them and force them to work for us for nothing more than slaves on the basis of colour and some perceived racial hierarchy. That is an entirely constructed thing. And yet, it is real in the impact that it has on our lives and Manning Marable
making that very obvious statement to be black is the negation of whiteness, and white is to be free from any of those assumptions or free of the idea even of identity. White people can choose to be or not to be whatever they wish, you know, that old line that ‘I think therefore I am’. I think for black people it is I think, therefore, I have to explain myself.
Kerry O’Brien: Yeah, it must have struck you over the years with all the reading you’ve done, how often, with white authors, they see no purpose or no reason to describe a white character as white. But anyone who is not white, is described as black or, or whatever that difference might be. But white never has to be identified in the eyes of many white writers, and therefore reflecting I guess, the rest of us.
Stan Grant: I come that to Toni Morrison, again, when she was asked those impertinent questions about why don’t you write about white people? First of all, she said, would you ever asked a similar question of Tolstoy? Writing about black people instead of people who weren’t Russian. But she actually said something, Kerry, she said you know, I write about white people all the time. We just don’t realise. She said when you see that black person walking down the street and I described them stepping to one side as someone passes by who do you think that is that’s passing by? She says I write about white people all the time. So again, it comes back to Baldwin, I spent a lifetime watching white people to outsmart them so that I might survive You know, the rules are different and yet they are the rules and what is maddening for me, Kerry, is that I’ve probably spent more time trying to think myself free of all of that. I don’t want to live in that black, white binary, I don’t want to buy into the language of race. And yet it is so difficult to live in a racialized world without being dragged back into that, that need to constantly explain yourself and navigate a world that was not designed for you.
Kerry O’Brien: When you were growing up in those years, Stan, there was no one like you. out in the public space, there was a Charlie Perkins beginning to make his way. And that was about it. There were some standout black leaders, indigenous leaders. But those who became the nucleus of indigenous leadership in Australia, through the 70s, and mostly 80s, 90s, and so on, they were really just starting to emerge. I wonder if you feel it has made a difference to the overall story of the cost of the colonial takeover of indigenous history in Australia, that there are now indigenous doctors and lawyers and teachers and journalists and writers and other great cultural contributors in growing numbers, and even police and a sprinkling of parliamentarians. Is that making a difference? Is the story starting to turn around?
Stan Grant: The story is being told. And it is through our persistence and survival and endurance and talent. That is that we are achieving that. Is it making a difference? Is it permeating the consciousness? Is it part of a national narrative? Or is this still seen as the other history? The Aboriginal story? This is, you know, we’re still on that journey. And you’re right, there are more, when I went to university, we could all know, the Aboriginal students, they could all sit around a dinner table. Now, you know, 1000s of Aboriginal students graduating and, and we have more parliamentarians than ever before. And, you know, there are enormous breakthroughs there. And yet, the same things that I grew up with persist today. We’re still dying 10 years younger, we’re still incarcerated. In fact, the incarceration rates are worse, we’ve still got the worst outcomes in health, housing, employment, education, nothing is shifting at that level, even as individual lives may have changed. And as we’ve seen the emergence of an Aboriginal middle class, it hasn’t moved the dial, when it comes to those structural issues, that that can dim the lives of so many of our people.
Kerry O’Brien: Because history has a way of walking back on itself in this country, doesn’t it? And perhaps that’s true everywhere. That, a moment in time where you can establish a new milestone, if you like. We are entirely capable as societies of turning back on ourselves and picking that milestone up on the way back I mean, we, the Mabo judgement, Native Title and the and the Stolen Generations inquiry followed by the culture wars, and claims that the massacres didn’t happen, Native Title watered down after the Wik judgement, the National Sorry Day, followed, as you say, by the failure to close the gap. And now the rather feeble attempt to provide a credible response to the Uluru Statement. So when it when it really boils down, you wonder sometimes, the saying usually is two steps forward and one step back, sometimes I see one step forward, and two or three steps back.
Stan Grant: And where is the political will? Without the political will, we won’t see that change. I mean, even you know, someone like Bob Hawke, who was, you know, said ostensibly was committed to these issues, promised the treaty, and then retreated from that in the face of opposition. We had the Mabo decision. And then we had the Native Title, which, you know, extinguished a lot of the potential of Mabo, even as it enshrined Native Title at law, you know, you need that political will to bring about the change. I’ve always felt too, Kerry, that there may be a disconnect between where Australians are at and where our politics is at. I think there’s probably been a growing awareness culturally and socially and through new histories and stories and norms and that people are embracing another idea of Australia that doesn’t see Aboriginal people as something to be swept aside, but indeed are at the heart of what this idea of Australia is, but that hasn’t permeated our politics and at the at the cultural level, with the cultural wars, we still see these things ferociously. And whenever there is a backlash, you see politicians turn away from it, rather than bite down hard and confront that. They know they’re going to lose votes, so they run a mile from it. And you know, without that political will, we’re not going to see the big change, you know, that we need to see. And I think also, Kerry, you know, we, the country itself lives with a deep sense of its own illegitimacy. No one can live in Australia and not know, deep down what happened. A people’s land was stolen, those people were slaughtered, those people were locked out of society, segregated, excluded, continue to suffer today, it hurts the soul of the nation. And I do feel as if that is palpable in Australia. And that’s the quest, we’re on the quest to heal the soul of the nation, and to also bring about the political change that is necessary for Aboriginal people to live free.
Kerry O’Brien: That sort of broad discussion about the colonial legacy, if you like, the harsh colonial legacy, with regard to Indigenous Australians, of course, post-World War Two, there’s been this explosion of so many other cultures coming into Australia and for them, Australia really begins when they arrive. And I wonder, I wonder, to what extent the important preoccupation at the level of national debate about the need for the story to be told in a formal way, the storytelling process, the treaty making process, the serious revisiting of curricula in Australia to ensure that indigenous history is properly told. You wonder how real that is for people who say, well, I wasn’t part of that colonial path. I’ve only just arrived, I just want to get on with my own life.
Stan Grant: Yeah, I think you’ve touched on something really interesting there. You know, to most people, Australia is an extraordinary nation, if you left, you know, war torn parts of the Middle East, or if you came on a boat from Vietnam, at the end of the war, or wherever you may have come from to find your way here. This is some stuff from heaven. You’re free of the conflicts of your homeland, you can make a new life for yourself. You know, it’s an extraordinary nation. And I think that’s the paradox of Australia in a sense is that, by global standards, what we have built here is remarkable, remarkable. We are as cohesive, broadly tolerant, multicultural, democratic, safe, and prosperous as we are, is exceedingly rare in the world. So then when you come to Australians, and you say to them, that there is a there is a project of moral rehabilitation as well. There is a need to revisit the story of the country and look at themselves and say, what do you mean you know, I pay my taxes, I cut the lawn on a Sunday, I coach the local football team, I’m a good citizen, Australia’s a good country. What’s wrong with us? It’s very hard when people don’t even see us to make people see the other Australia when Australia looks to so many like a Valhalla.
Kerry O’Brien: Yeah. And you’ve since travelled the world as a trained observer, and you’ve seen racism and the harsh legacy of colonialism played out again and again, in your latest book with The Falling of the Dusk, you say you’ve looked in the eyes of an old Chinese farmer working his arid land, or a war-ravaged refugee and a Syrian refugee camp and seen in the eyes of your parents. You’ve seen a replication of what you’re talking about here.
Stan Grant: Yeah, it’s the weight of history, Kerry, And even when we talk about history, what are we talking about? We’re talking about a Western concept of history, that is an arc as they see, of progress. And in that arc of progress, so many others were swept aside, colonisation, empire. You look at China as an example of this. We see the return of Chinese power now or the rise of Chinese power, as we like to see it. But for the Chinese, this is vanquishing history. This is overcoming the history of humiliation, the humiliation of the Opium Wars and colonisation of brutalisation. I saw this throughout the Middle East, throughout Africa, throughout Asia and those people’s stories mirrored my own and that cleavage between the West and its ideas of progress. Indeed, in the West, there was an idea that you’re free of history, remember Francis Fukuyama his declaration at the end of the Cold War, we’ve reached the end of history. Western democratic liberalism is the highest vantage point of humanity.
Kerry O’Brien: Certainly, the highest vantage point of arrogance in that case, but go on.
Stan Grant: The hubris. But much of the world, of course, we live with weight of that history. And that’s what really enticed me as a journalist, I was telling the stories of these people, been trying to understand the story of myself as well, and in many ways, Kerry, I would love nothing more than to live without the weight of that history. I don’t want to be poisoned by history, I don’t want to carry the resentment of 100 years of humiliation as the Chinese do, I don’t want to carry the burden of that trauma. And yet it is inescapable when you live in a world that, as I say, that cleavage between a Western idea of progress and those who have paid the price for that progress is played out still every single day.
Kerry O’Brien: How do you think you’ve changed? And I guess unless you sit inspecting, you know, navel gazing through your life, is probably a hard one for anyone to answer really. So how do you think you have changed? You know, since you began your pursuit of career as a journalist with all the things you have seen, the knocks you’ve taken, the successes you’ve had? How do you think you have changed? What impact have these things had on you?
Stan Grant: You know, in some ways, Kerry, I don’t think I have changed at all from the little boy who tried to scrub the black of his skin in the bath. Who saw the way his parents and grandparents were treated, who looked out on the world and realised that somehow we were different. That is still in me. And what I’ve been on is a quest to understand that. It is deepened, that understanding, it is grappling with all of the complexities of that. What I started out as a little boy, I still feel in many respects, I am, and that is someone who is uneasy with the world, even uneasy with myself, there’s a great line from Franz Kafka. How can I identify with the Jews? I can’t identify with myself. And in some respects, even the easy identification with my own people is not as easy for me because I asked so many questions of myself. So I’m still that kid asking questions, reading voraciously trying to understand, it has just deepened with time, and the questions have become even more confounding.
Kerry O’Brien: You, you had 11 years I think as a CNN Correspondent in Hong Kong, Beijing, the Middle East, and you’ve travelled wider, even than that, you confronted some pretty tough stuff. Through those years, there’s a sense that I have that you haven’t found it easy necessarily settling back into Australia, defining what you want to do with the rest of your life, dabbling with, probably more than dabbling with academia. But you sort of moved in, you’ve gone out, you’ve kept a hold in it. At one point, even flirting with politics, juggling a number of roles at the ABC, but not really settling into any one of them. Did the years corresponding come at a price?
Stan Grant: They did. I think I’ve always been someone who likes to juggle a lot of things, I’m probably not comfortable with one thing. You know, I like academia, because it’s a headspace for me. And I like to have a little refuge. And it’s a place in a different vantage point on the world of journalism, or doesn’t give you in that sort of following the bouncing ball with us each day. But I do like doing a whole lot of different things. You’re right that I’ve never really settled in Australia. In fact, I’ve never felt settled in Australia at all ever, not as a kid, not as an adult. I love it deeply, passionately, in great intensity. I love the smell and the sights and the sounds of it. And yet I still don’t feel at home, even here. And at any moment, I feel like I could pack up and leave and move overseas again.
Kerry O’Brien: That must be unsettling.
Stan Grant: Very unsettling. I’m an exile, Kerry. And I think I’ve probably come to terms with that with the fact that I am an exile. But Baldwin was an exile. James Joyce was an exile. You know, I, the writers that I admire are people of exile, I am probably more comfortable in exile. And I probably, increasingly have come to terms with that. And in terms of the damage that’s seen so much in the brutality of the world has probably only reinforced a lot of the hurt and the damage that was already there from when I was a kid. I remember after having spent a lot of years in and out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, covering terrorism in Southeast Asia, reporting in China, just you know, you’re like a frog and slowly eating water, you don’t realise how hot it’s getting. And I remember I hit the wall, I absolutely had a complete, complete and utter breakdown. And I remember saying to my wife at the time, I just kept feeling like, all the hurt in the world that I’d seen was compounding the hurt that I felt as a kid, and I’m beside her one night. Why do they do this to us? Why did they do this to us? And I’m still asking that question, why did they do this to us? What did my family ever do to deserve this? And the hurt that I see in the world when, you know, people come in and the damage that’s done in war? Why do you do this to people? And I carry that deeply, Kerry.
Kerry O’Brien: I mean, apart from that, it’s the great, it’s the great puzzle of humanity, isn’t it? I mean, I suppose if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed through history, it’s human nature. With all its high points and all at awful lows, isn’t that true?
Stan Grant: It is. And I’ve seen incredible capacity for survival and endurance in the best of humanity. But I’ve seen so much of the worst of it. And I am given to a dark view of the world because there’s so much darkness. And I have a lot of nightmares about it. You know, a lot of the time I’m not even aware of them. Tracy, my wife will often say to me that I had a bad night, I was kicking and thrashing and running, shouting, and, you know, the nightmares have come and gone at various times in my life, I’ve had to, I’ve had to lay on the couch in a dark room for weeks on end, just trying to process all of those things. And the thing I’ve realised is that it was never just the horrors of reporting, the worst of the world. It was where they came from. In the end, being a kid that grew up with so much uncertainty, and knowing where that came from, and always feeling very deeply hurt and the pain of those people around me. And good people, Kerry, good people who did not deserve it.
Kerry O’Brien You mentioned Afghanistan in passing, Stan. Here we are now after the longest war, I think that Australia has ever been involved in. And the West has walked away from Afghanistan and the Taliban is on the way to take me back to where it was. Yeah. What was that all about?
Stan Grant: What was it about? What is the post-World War, World War Two war been about? I mean, you think about, you know, the Korean War, which, in fact, may be the longest war because it still never ended. There’s still not a peace treaty, just an uneasy truce. The Korean War, what was it about to leave divided Koreas that have never been able to come together? And now North Korea, that is a nuclear threat? What about Vietnam? What was that all about? America’s record of war for the most powerful military the world has ever seen, post-World War Two, is not a victorious one, you know, Korea, withdraw from Vietnam, now withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban resurgent and claiming victory now ending combat operations again, in Iraq, which last time they did this led to the rise of ISIS. It is just it’s maddening the number of times we repeat this, and I think one of the lessons, Kerry, is that the idea that you can go in and you can remake countries, that there is this idea of nation building by force, we’ve seen time and time again, does not work. But who’s left at the mercy of this? People in Afghanistan.
Kerry O’Brien: Yeah. I mean, how do you set about explaining today to somebody who wasn’t adult at the time, how we got into Iraq, and how we got into Afghanistan? And what we’ve learned from those, those failures?
Stan Grant And where do you start with something like that as well? I mean, we could start at 9/11 and say that those attacks precipitated the war of Afghanistan, and then led us to Iraq. But of course, we know that even that was predated by events. There were things that led to that, there was the support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the war, the Soviets that sowed the seeds for the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, often aided and assisted with American money. So, where do you begin to explain a world that is so maddening and so complicated? Afghanistan, which is seen as the sort of virtuous war, a response to the to the brutal attack on the US in 9/11. But then the war of Iraq to go in there on the pretense of weapons of mass destruction, which we knew at the time, Saddam Hussein did not have, to then overthrow that regime and leave a vacuum that would see the rise of groups like Islamic State. These decisions that were made one after the other, misadventures that made the world worse, and you know, it’s easy to sort of say, put the blame on George W. Bush there. But let’s look at the Obama years, when the Obama years were not a shining example of how to run foreign policy. You had the threats of red lines in Syria that he didn’t impose. You had Obama dismissing ISIS as a junior varsity terrorist organisation, well that came back to bite him. We saw North Korea become a fully armed state on his watch, China claim and militarise the disputed islands of the South China Sea, Russia annex Crimea, you know, Obama’s handling of the world also was not, was not great. But we are at a moment now carry where I think so many of these dominoes that it started, are reaching a tipping point, we are most definitely at a global tipping point.
Kerry O’Brien: And this was in terms of the kind of global authoritarianism, I guess, I mean, you arrive a lot with in the falling of the dust about the big geopolitical shifts today with the ascendancy of authoritarianism and the retreat of democracy, I wonder, and there’s a lot of conversation, endless conversation about why these things are happening and where they’re going to go. I wonder how effectively you think journalism has assisted humanity’s capacity to grasp and be engaged by what’s going on and why it’s happening.
Stan Grant: At its best, I think it’s done an extraordinary job. But the best is often few and far between. And I’m not just saying this, because you’re here, but the contribution you have made, and others to this company’s understanding itself in its place in the world, we are better for having had journalists like yourself. There are extraordinary journalists that I worked with, here and overseas that have assisted people to understand and see the world in all of its complexity. There are courageous journalists who will tilt against power at great cost to themselves, and they have made the world better. But I think one of the problems of our age now, and I’m a product of it, I both see the virtues of it, but I also see the great vice of it. That is that the 24/7 Media era has shortened our attention spans, put the world into a constant state of crisis, each hour has to be more dire than the next. There is no time for introspection, it speeds up the demand for politicians to act, often acting in haste, which leads again to poor outcomes. I don’t think that that is serving us well, right now, I take something like COVID, for instance, you know, I’m looking at Sydney right now, which is in lockdown. And every day, we get messages of unending crisis, and it’s out of control. Well, yes, it is serious. And yes, we have to deal with it. But the reality is, Sydney on a worst day, has 200 cases. And Indonesia has 50,000 a day, and England still has 30,000. And out of 120,000 people who were tested in Sydney, 0.2 of a percent of people, not even half of 1% are returning positives. But we don’t place things into their context so that we can have rational, considered, responsible approaches to this, we catastrophize everything we go for the worst, that 24/7 media cycle inspires this constant state of crises, and every hour has to be worse than the next and every number has to be worse than the next. And I don’t think that that is serving us well. And I don’t think it’s serving us well in terms of the political outcomes and the decisions that are made, as well.
Kerry O’Brien: I can remember I was in America as a correspondent in 83’-84’. And we worked in with CNN. We had the Australian rights to CNN on the Seven Network when I worked there. So I visited CNN from time to time, I saw the early days of cable news and 24-hour news and I could see the way it was developing and I can remember going back there in about 2000 or late 90s. And on a big staircase at CNN in Atlanta, they had what they call the chart of human history and the most momentous events in that chart of human history. And when I looked up closer realised it was actually a rating chat. The biggest event on that chat was OJ Simpson’s flight from the police, covered by helicopters at the time. And in a sense, I know CCN has had some great journalists pass through it, but it is in a way indicative of the media world we occupy now, isn’t it?
Stan Grant: It is. And technology has sped up the way information is processed to disseminate it. There is such a crowded landscape. It’s brought the world closer together, events move more quickly. Look what we demand from our politicians, Kerry. Remember when we were in, in Parliament House, and if there was a press conference from, you know, Hawke then or Keating, it was an event, you would go there and it would last a couple of hours and you grill them. And you know, if you got them on that night, then you know, that was something to watch. Now, we expect them to pop up every couple of hours. And we expect them to have answers,
Kerry O’Brien: Even when we don’t want them to, they do anyway. That’s when they don’t go into hiding.
Stan Grant: Yeah. And they and they manipulate it and you know, look it it’s an extraordinary thing, the 24/7 newsbeat, because in so many ways it helped to democratise information using the same way that social media and Twitter has as well. But it also comes with this poison, this toxicity that infects the body politic with this cancer of crisis and anxiety, and endless chaos. And we know that the world is not always like that. And yet this is the way it is presented. And it is stopping us making clear and rational decisions. I would hate to seem right now in this environment, something like a mid-ai over the South China Sea between the Americans and the Chinese. And over a 24-hour cycle, watching that ramp up to the point where you’ve got demands for war and retaliation and politicians reacting to that and making decisions in real time: that could have absolutely catastrophic consequences. And yet, that is the world that we live in now. And that’s how high the stakes are.
Kerry O’Brien: And that I mean, when you actually stop and think about what that means, you’re making real time decisions about things that are unfolding in front of your eyes, but they’re also often unfolding in front of the eyes of the world. There was one bizarre moment, that you would probably remember wherever you were at the time, when Osama bin Laden was assassinated, and the world was treated to the pictures of Barack Obama as President of the United States with his Cabinet, the security people around him watching live, we saw the images a little bit later, but watching live as the troops, the assassins, essentially, were going in, and they were being filmed as they went, in to shoot Osama bin Laden. When I watched it on a television screen in Four Corners at the time, there was a strip running underneath it with a soccer score. That’s our world.
Stan Grant: Well, I can tell you where I was actually then, the day after I was outside bin Laden’s house, actually, right at the, at the heart of that story.
Kerry O’Brien: What were you doing there?
Stan Grant: I was there, for CNN reporting, we went outside the house, we had to speak to people, we were, you know, doing stories on the Abbottabad, the town that he was in and what the town was about, talking to neighbours who may have known members of the family, or all the usual things that we would do, and also, Kerry, on that endless cycle of lives, you know, where you’re just constantly up on-air giving information without necessarily being able to go out and get new information. You become trapped on that treadmill: “oh great, you’re in a great location. You’re outside his house, let’s go live for the next 12 hours”, you know.
Kerry O’Brien: Yeah. And in the end, there’s a battle there for the journalist between fundamentally good journalism, and just a wall, a great wall of words coming out, isn’t there? And often, sometimes, the mouths are going but you’re not hearing the words.
Stan Grant: The best ones are the ones who can marry both. But that comes at enormous cost. When I was working at CNN, it was an expectation that you would do the 12 hour live wheel, be up on the hour every hour, or every half hour, constantly doing lives. But then I dragged myself off and I’d go and shoot for the next 10 hours trying to get a story together or find out information that I could actually add some value, then I’d sleep for two hours, and I’d come back up and do it all again. And you know, there were times when I would go three, four weeks on, at best two hours sleep a night but it was that or not do your job properly. You know, technology has been amazing in the way that it has allowed us to broadcast from anywhere with nothing so much as a briefcase. But it has also trapped us in the tyranny of that constant news cycle and the demand for new information and not just information but the most dire information, Kerry. Crisis.
Kerry O’Brien: You wonder how we break that cycle to the extent that that cycle is unhealthy, fundamentally unhealthy? And if it’s unhealthy to journalism, it’s unhealthy to democracy. How do we break that cycle, we dance, the dance between journalists and politicians, in particular, is a dance with the devil. We might see them as the devil, they might see us as the devil, but it’s the kind of it’s this strange dance that goes on, where on the one hand, each feels that they have to try and keep the other honest. But we need each other. And so, we each we each have created this this circumstance, which is fundamentally unhealthy.
Stan Grant: You know, something you once said to me. And I’ve never forgotten this. In fact, it became something that became a real motto for me. You said to me – you’d never remember this, Kerry – but I’ll tell you where we were. We’re in, in the city and we were having lunch, I was talking about career in journalism and what we do, you said, “mate, no matter what you do, make sure it matters”. And, you know, I’ve probably let myself down sometimes with that. But by and large, I have tried to make it matter. Now, in terms of what we do with this era of journalism, which presents incredible opportunity. I mean, I’ve had a career, it would be unthinkable in any other era, because of the capacity to, you know, the advent of things like CNN, and 24-hour news, the capacity to report to the world, from anywhere in real time. Extraordinary. But how do we get the most out of this, and personally, I think this is part of our responsibility, as journalists, to make it matter, is to is to make sure that we utilise everything at our disposal. So, you know, I have a career where I do television, I pop up on air on News 24, I’ll do some long form journalism for Four Corners, I write regularly for ABC Online, I’ve made some films, I write books: all of this is about taking the idea of our responsibility seriously, making full use of everything that is at our disposal, to help enrich people’s understanding of the world, to raise issues, you know, to bring some depth and some understanding to bring our experience to it, our perspective to it, it’s hard work. It means you don’t clock off, you don’t just say I’ve done my eight-hour shift, you come home and you think, you read, you write, and you look at new ways of doing it. That’s what I personally do. And that’s what I think the best journalists are doing. And this is an amazing opportunity at this time to really, really make full use of everything in our disposal.
Kerry O’Brien: Except at the same time, Stan, I have this terrible feeling that there is so much happening, particularly so much bad news in the world. And certainly we’re reporting all the bad news, that there is simply too much for people to absorb. This is an age of anxiety. It’s an age where people are many people are turned in, with many people have to carry their own fears about their future, the future of their children, the future of work, all of these sorts of big questions. And now we Australians, are being told to worry about China, and to worry about how America and China can reach an accommodation of shared power at some point in the next 10,20 years without the next fearful World War. Are you an optimist or not? On China and the West’s capacity to deal with China as it emerges as a fully-fledged world power.
Stan Grant: I’m much more of a realist, Kerry, and one of the things I think we should keep in mind, again, to go to this point of the endless catastrophize-ation that we see now, where, right now, you would think we’re one step away from war with China. I mean, the fact of the matter is that China’s rise has been remarkable, in that it is happened without conflict. We have seen a country go from being a basket case that could not feed itself, the sick man of Asia as it was known, to on the cusp of being the biggest economy in the world. It is an indispensable nation. Yes, it is a communist regime that does not share the democratic values of the West and yet it is incorporated into a global order. It is a member of the UN Security Council, a member World Health Organisation, a member of the World Trade Organisation signatories to international covenants like the Paris Climate accords, it contributes to global peace keeping, I think the way that we’ve managed the emergence of a real superpower that does not share values, in fact, its values are often hostile to, to what is seen as Western liberal values has been a remarkable achievement. Now can we continue to do that? Reality would tell us that we are reaching a point where we may be at a point of no return. The architecture, the political architecture needed to navigate what is an uncomfortable, big power rivalry is diminished. If there were to be an accident, if there was to be a miscalculation, that escalated things, how would we talk it down? That’s what I worry about. It’s not the act of madness. It’s not the invasion tomorrow with Taiwan. It’s the accident. It’s the miscalculation that neither side can back down from. And when I see this sort of talk of a new Cold War, the fact of the matter that you know that our politicians can’t speak to theirs, and American diplomats are not speaking to Chinese diplomats. And that’s not good for the world. So, look, I don’t know if we can pull this off. I think it’s remarkable that we have thus far. But we are at a real hinge point where there is an authoritarian superpower in the world. And it is changing the nature of our world. And it is happening at a time when the ballast to that, the United States, which is meant to be that so called leader of the free world, the beacon of democracy, its own democracy is diminished, its own power is diminished. And globally, democracy is seen as being in retreat. Put those things together and you have a dangerous hinge point. And I don’t know that there are the great political minds, strategists, thinkers, leaders in the world that are equipped, right now, to deal with the worst potential outcomes.
Kerry O’Brien: Are you worried at the capacity for Australia’s perspective on China to be warped by short term self-interest around the way we might use China for our own domestic political gain? I mean, how do you even as a practiced China hand, work out what is accurate? And what’s not so accurate? What’s being beaten up? And what is real in what is fed into Australia from our own intelligence agencies and how that is then used by government? I mean how do we discern the reality from that? What is the truth in what we’re being fed?
Stan Grant: It’s part of the responsibility that as someone who has spent significant time there for this part of the decade and I’ve been reporting on, thinking about, reading about, writing on, living in China. Much since the handover of Hong Kong in 199, so I’ve got 25 years of sort of thinking about this, and I see it as a responsibility to try to pick through that, and to try to understand that to look at China with a very clear eye. And to understand that, Kerry, we are dealing with a country, particularly under Xi Jinping, which is increasingly authoritarian, where there is no free press. For us, as we know it, where democracy protesters are shut down, where we’re Uighur Muslims are locked up in detention centres. China, that can militarise the islands in the South China Sea in contravention of rulings from the Maritime Court in The Hague. That will use trade as a weapon and we’ve seen that against Australia. We know that and we have to understand, but we also have to understand what the political impulses are in our own country. And we know that the old to quote you know, quote, is ‘yellow peril’. The old touchstones of racism, the old fear can be very persuasive and very easily whipped up, particularly as we approach elections. And we have to be very clear about China, very clear about the political motivations of what we see here. The reality is that we live in a world that is no longer just simply ruled by the United States. It is a world where power is contested. It is a world where our biggest trading partner is an authoritarian regime who does not share our values. It is a world where a miscalculation could tip us into a catastrophic outcome. Rather than inflaming that, where are the smart voices? I look for the people who are smart enough to see through this, to navigate this to bring new ways of understanding to this and to try to bring that to the Australian people to try to understand when they being duped when they’ve been sold a political line, both from China and from here.
Kerry O’Brien: Stan, we’re also at the end of our time. That’s another harsh reality we have to face as journalists, but terrific conversation. And thank you very much.
Stan Grant: It’s always a pleasure, Kerry. And thank you, mate, thank you for your support over the years. And I cringed when I heard the introduction in saying that two titans of journalists. I am in your shadow, mate, and in your debt, to be honest, so thank you Kerry.
Kerry O’Brien: Stan, well, there I said it, John Howard used to say that at the end of every interview, but a very real pleasure, Stan, thank you.
As we head into the third year of the pandemic, debates continue to rage over the ethics of vaccine mandates, restrictions on civil liberties, the limits of government power and the inequitable distribution of vaccines globally. With so much disagreement over questions like these, has the pandemic fundamentally changed the way we think about ethics?