The podcast where better is definitely better than bigger.
Do you think growing infinitely on a finite planet is an oxymoron? If the answer is yes, then this podcast is for you.
In each episode of the Post-Growth Australia Podcast (PGAP), host Michael Bayliss talks to experts to unpack the notion of post-growth societies and what this means for us, for future generations and for the planet.
Each episode will also play an environmental themed song from local artists.
PGAP is made possible by the support of Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
Episode 13: International Anti-Corruption Day with Cameron Murray
December the 09th marks ‘International Anti-Corruption Day’. This day was designated nearly 20 years ago by the ‘United Nations Convention against Corruption’ to raise awareness on corruption and its role in undermining democracy, stability and equity. Australia is no exception to this phenomena – one is hard pressed to find a major party politician who is NOT in bed with big business. If you want to be a state premier these days it is almost de riguer to have some scandal with some property developer or other. Since we all degree that ‘political favours’ are not exactly prime example of good leadership and altruism, why does this behaviour persist - over and over again, ad nauseum? PGAP host Michael Bayliss explores this further with Game of Mates co-author Dr Cameron Murray.
As a former property developer, Cameron provides the perfect insight as to what goes on behind closed doors in the property development industry, and how political favours, gained over time, leads to a culture of favouritism – a ‘Game of Mates’ if you please. Speaking of which, if you haven’t read the book of the same name, do so NOW. Cameron writes just like he speaks, which is to say engaging and fascinating – edutainment at its best. It also makes for great exposure therapy. I always knew the property industry was…let’s say a little skewed, but reading this book made me stimmy with rage on more than one occasion.
My discussion with Cameron was a great lesson for me in human psychology. I have often been frustrated why the community doesn’t rile against the property development industry more often – it is so rigged it is literally costing us billions of dollars a year and pricing out anyone out of the housing market who has the audacity to live on a five figure salary. But unlike the mining sector, which is full of eccentric Machiavellian villains, the property sector is conspicuously lacking (apart from the odd exception like Harry Triguboff). Generally speaking, property developers start of as well-meaning people who get caught up in a game of favouritism, wining and dining and rigging the system. Just like all of us do to some extent, they are simply looking out for their network of colleagues and friends, with a hefty dose of cognitive dissonance. Unlike the rest of us, however, this is done on a scale that undermines democracy, equity, housing affordability and wise town planning decision. The natural environment also goes down the gurgler. Individually, I learnt that property developers are often nice people. Collectively however, the culture has created a monster.
Cameron also discusses his views on population policy, modern monetary theory, his unique perspectives on capitalism and neo-liberalism, and his commitment towards critical thinking and avoiding 'isms', even when this has sometimes lead to controversy and heated debates.
I first met Cameron when filming his presentation "Economic Ageing Myths" at the forum hosted by Sustainable Population Australia in 2019. Since then, Sustainable Population has released a discussion paper on the ageing myth: "Silver tsunami or silver lining? Why we should not fear an ageing population." I am happy to share that the discssion paper has done very well since it launched in late October and has enjoyed good coverage in the print media.
This thirteenth episode is the final in the first season of Post Growth Australia Podcast – I am really proud of where PGAP has gone since I started it in July. In many ways it has exceeded most of my expectations and listener feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you all for supporting and for listening – after all, if a podcast is broadcast and there is no-one to listen, did the pod actually get cast? That is the existential question that I don’t have to answer just yet
Episode 12: Retrosuburbia with David Holmgren
Are you keen on the idea of permaculture but find the idea of starting an acreage in the country a bit much? Do your cortisone levels go through the roof whenever you see productive farmland being torn down for more cookie cutter suburbia? Are you baulking at the thought of perfectly good houses on your street being pulled down for battleship grey pre-fab concrete apartments? Would you prefer that you could do more things for yourself and with others at home rather than having everything outsourced for you at a price from the not-so-free market? According to David Holmgren, co-founder of permaculture, ‘Retrosuburbia’ can make all of this and more, a possibility.
But what IS Retrosuburbia? Well, I suppose I could paraphrase it badly for you, or we could hear it straight from the co-founder of permaculture himself! Given that David Holmgren is a household name, especially in the environment movement, I am very honoured that he agreed to be interviewed for this podcast!
David Holmgren co-founded the Permaculture movement in the 1970's together with Bill Mollison. David has written many books on the subject and continues to write and speak on permaculture, and alternatives to the growth based society that we currently find ourselves living in. This includes solutions to the high-rise versus suburban sprawl dichotomy that is so dominant in current urban planning mentality. This approach is a central premise of the Retrosuburbia movement, a movement which has culminated in a large and colourful bestselling book. This book appears ubiquitously in the book collection of many environmental enthusiasts and rightfully so as it makes for essential reading!
In addition to exploring Retrosuburbia, David discusses the current predicaments and shortcomings that are inherent in the current system, such as inefficiency, waste, and erosion of community, the pressure and displacement of renters – not to mention the environmental toll. David explores his vision of a post-growth world in which the Retrosuburbia and Permaculture movements play a fundamental role.
Following David Holmgren’s interview I invite Mark Allen, the founder of Town Planning Rebellion and Holistic Activism to say a few words. Mark is a sustainable town planner and activist who is deeply committed to systemic change and how our towns and cities should adapt and evolve in a post-growth, post climate change world. Mark also encourages people to take a Holistic Activism approach to emotive topics such as population. His approach is to encourage nuanced discussion by looking for the common ground on those issues that underlie divisive topics such as, in the case of population, the need for systemic change, international mutual aid and the empowerment of women.
If you are keen on exploring some of the ideas in this episode in greater depth, we recommend heading to Melliodora publishing. It is a small specialist publisher dedicated to producing a limited range of books and other media by David Holmgren, co-originator of permaculture, and other authors. Their titles 'aim to support individuals in their personal permaculture journeys'.
The choice of song today is 'Grow A Garden' by 'Formidable Vegetable'. Formely known as 'Formidable Vegetable Sound System' their permaculture and system changed themed songs have been an inspiration and the soundtrack to many of our lives! If you ever get a chance to see them live, they are utterly mindblowing, in the meantime, you can listen and buy their music on Bandcamp.
Special Guests: David Holmgren and Mark Allen.
Episode 11: To politik or not to politik, that is the question - with Kelvin Thomson
Another month, another bunch of elections. In Australia, we’ve just had the ACT elections, QLD elections, and Victoria council elections. I think that’s it. Oh yeah, there’s a small North American country having a federal election counting ballots as we speak. You may have heard about it.
Post-Growth still exists on the fringe and for most of us on the fringe voting can be a frustrating exercise choosing between who will lead us through several more years of growth on a finite planet. It can be even more frustrating for independents and minor parties who advocate for something better than the status quo – a seeming endless uphill climb full of long hours, campaign trails, etc. This being the case, is it better to opt out or opt in? PGAP host Michael Bayliss explores this question further with the Honourable Kelvin Thomson.
Kelvin is a former member of the Labor party and since 1981 has been elected for local council, State Government and, from 1996 served as Federal member for the inner-north Melbourne electorate of Wills for two decades.
Kelvin balanced longevity with a very unique and individual outlook that often put him at odds with mainstream politics. Kelvin was – and still is – an active champion for environmental conversation, campaigned against overdevelopment including the influence of property developers on political decisions, and perhaps most famously for his staunch position on population policy. This sometimes earned him the reputation as a ‘maverick’. I prefer to see it as rare integrity.
Since retiring from Federal parliament in 2016 Kelvin is now Chief of Staff for Victorian MP Clifford Hayes of Sustainable Australia Party (SAP). Kelvin discusses with me his journey from Labor to SAP, the successes and challenges he faced during his time in and out of office and why there is a place for politics in promoting the post-growth cause.
A qualifier: This podcast is made possible by Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) who are apolitical and therefore do not endorse any one political party. However, during this episode I highlighted several political parties and candidates who have policies that have some common ground with the post-growth movement. In addition to Sustainable Australia, you may be interested in finding out more about Animal Justice Party, Save The Planet Party, New Liberals (definitely not like old Liberals), Australian Democrats, and Craig Walters. Know of any others? Let us know!
Speaking of Sustainable Population Australia, they recently released a discussion paper debunking the myths of an ageing population. Population sustainability is not always renowned for its cheeriness, however the discussion paper – “Silver tsunami or silver lining? Why we should not fear an ageing population” is not only a fantastic read but also quite upbeat. The discussion paper has enjoyed some positive media coverage the past week which is fantastic. You may also be interested in Kelvin's impassioned speech at SPA's 2019 AGM here.
And speaking on contacting PGAP, please don’t be shy! Our contact form is here. Want to feedback on any of the episodes or want to share your own post-growth ideas? I’d love to hear from you. Do you frequent Apple Podcasts or Stitcher? Then please rate PGAP and leave a review. The more reviews, the more listeners – which means the more people stop wanting more. If you’ll excuse the Paradox….
The song of choice today is from Adelaide band ‘The Tangerines.’ To find out more about The Tangerines, visit their website here.
Special Guest: THE HONOURABLE KELVIN THOMSON .
Episode 10: Budget Special with Unconventional Economist Leith van Onselen
The Federal budget was made public on October 2006 with the usual disappointment we have come to expect from the coalition government (well from both major parties really). So what SHOULD the budget have looked like as we enter into the pandemic flecked decade of consequence? Host Michael Bayliss talks to Leith van Onselen to find out what a sensible economic response during these trying times OUGHT to look like.
Leith van Onselen writes relentlessly as The Unconventional Economist at the blog site MacroBusiness, one of the more successful fringe media sites in Australia (and by 'fringe' we mean 'not owned by Murdoch and yet still surviving').
Speaking of mainstream media, Leith is so far the only guest (or host) ever to have appeared on The Bolt Report and The Today Show. Now before we get too alarmed, I argue that this is not because Leith is a covert neoliberal but rather his communication style is such that his unconventional economics can appeal to a broad mainstream audience.
During the interview we find out why Leith is, indeed, an 'unconventional' economist and conclude that, indeed, this is because he is at heart just like to rest of us. He wants to see an end to deregulated neoliberal growth that benefits the few at the expense of the many. Instead, he would like to see more leisure, community, well-being, lower consumption and more considered frugality.
Leith would also like to see an end to Australia's high rate of population growth that have been boosted through higher levels of economic migration over the last two decades which has seen his home city of Melbourne climb from 3.5 to over 5 million in under 20 years. This is an ‘unconventional’ position that tends to be unpopular with both big business and the left, however we love to put population under the microscope on PGAP, so we explore this issue further with Leith.
Leith informs us on the fiscal policy that the government should take in the difficult decade of recession that lies ahead (as it turned out in the October 06 budget, the government didn't really follow Leith's advice). I begin the episode by sharing my take on the budget and end the episode by giving my take on a recent article that aims some criticism at Degrowth advocates (from an author to which I was not expecting this from).
It comes down to the fact that there is a bit of an argument in economics land: IS it possible to have GDP growth without physical growth that requires resource extraction? Or in other words, is it possible to decouple economic growth from environmental destruction? What are your thoughts? Can we decouple our way out of our problems or is this just wishful thinking? Please let me know your thoughts by clicking the contact tab on this website and let me know if you would like your opinion broadcast on the next episode.
For those who like links:
Leith lead a discussion paper for Sustainable Population Australia titled:** Population growth and Infrastructure in Australia: the catch-up illusion** the link can be found here
The song of choice today was from my own band 'Shock Octopus’ entitled 'In A Box'. Thematically it brings an old Malvina Reynold song into the apartment/compartment world of the 21st Century. Musically it is Talking Heads meets rock/rap, but hopefully better than that sounds. Link here. an exerpt of the song ended up at the 'Theme' to the SPA crowdfunded series 'Tough Crowd'.
Special Guest: Leith van Onselen.
Episode 9: Healing within to heal the world - with Jim Villarreal
In the second part of the 'spirituality special' of PGAP, we interview Jim Villarreal of Gold Cap Integration Network to discuss that healing the world means healing the internal traumas that lie within us all. We also explore an exciting new movement called Holistic Activism which is seeking to bring together activism and mindful practices.
Jimmy and I reunite after many adventures spanning the globe from Amazonian Peru to the Victorian Gippsland to discuss how the state of the world is in part informed by our conditioning and traumas. Jimmy shares his personal story of leaving behind a successful sales career in corporate America to start a brave new journey in assisting people with emotional and spiritual healing. We discuss how a transition to a better, post-growth world must at some point come from a place of internal transformation.
I also play a selection from a brand new guided mediation from Holistic Activism, designed for us activists in mind - but accessible to anyone and everyone. Holistic Activism is about 'reducing conflict among activists and creating campaigns that are long lasting while also reaching out and connecting with people who have different values to that of our own'. The aim is to do this in a manner that does not enable us to continue to repeat the mistakes of history. Holistic Activism is Australian based and currently maintains an online connection and presence during lockdown.
The meditation is narrated by Holistic Activism founder Mark Allen and I share it with his permission and blessing. We play a six minute extract of the full 16.5 minute Guided Meditation but the entire meditation can be found on the HA Soundcloud channel here. As the meditation is aimed at putting you into a calm and relaxed space, it might not be best to listen to this podcast while driving.
Special Guest: Jim Villarreal.
Episode 8: Can we change the system without changing ourselves? A Taoistic perspective with Darpan
Many times on PGAP we have discussed how critical it is to live in a way that is Ecocentric rather than Anthropocentric. To decolonise our economies and societies so they are living within the laws of nature rather than trying to dominate the natural world.
So what needs to change and how to we facilitate this change? Do we rally against corporations, governments, capitalism and neoliberalism? Or do we need to stop changing the cruel churning world and work to shift our cruel churning minds caught in trauma, language, concepts and judgement? Can one even separate one without the other?
If my observations are correct, these distinctions have been crumbling in recent years. The political left are starting to realise that infighting over diminishing points of different has led to bitterness, resentment and burnout. Meanwhile not a lot has changed – the corporations still call the shots at the relentless expense of the natural world. Activists are looking for other ways. ‘Holistic Activism’, which advocates for collaboration, rather than conflict, is an example of one such movement.
Meanwhile, those in the ‘spirituality movement’ have started to become more politically engaged. (‘Spirituality’ being a - ha ha - broad church but for ease of reference I refer to those who engage in Taoism, Non-Duality, Shamanism and Neo-shamanism, Zen and Buddhism etc.) The response to COVID, particularly from the Victorian state government, has led to a new degree of activism within the community. Some of the same pitfalls that have befallen environmental activists, such as division and clashing over social media, have begun to emerge.
In this episode, I try to make a sense of recent events by talking to Darpan, a wise and incredibly experienced practitioner with decades of experience as a teacher, therapist, councillor, sound healer and facilitator of shamanic retreats. As an active person who has always struggled to sit still, I allow myself to be challenged on Darpan’s perspective that indeed, we CAN’T change the system without changing ourselves. Indeed, the universe is a vastly more complex place than our senses and minds can ever conceptualise - perhaps there is a astral world of spiritual events taking place whether our rationalistic brains like it or not.
For those coming in to here from a system change angle, some of Darpan’s perspectives may be challenging. For those coming here who are fans of Darpan, you may find MY questions to him and my perspectives at the end of the interview uncomfortable. This need not be a bad thing – let this be a test of different perspective coming together to find common ground. If anything, this is the one thing that may get us out of the mess we’re in.
During the Podcast I refer to Alan Watts - the video almost broke me! and the documentaries Esteem, My Octopus Teacher, and Living in the Time of Dying. In my own bias this is essential viewing.
We are also graced by a stunning, beautiful meditative track from Melbourne artist Belinda Wickens entitled ‘She Comes’. Thank you so much for being part of this Podcast Belinda.
Special Guest: Darpan.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Eye opening and informative
Important fringe ideas. Hard topics to discuss in the modern world. But glad this podcast is getting the message and ideas out there, thank you
Opened minded PGA & relaxing/chill
This podcast has opened my mind on Post Growth, it interests me in some way & the way we live. I found this one Easy listening, the interviews & music has inspired me, I listen to it when I take public transport in perth & I find it very Gentle. it helps my brain to think about what’s around me like (transport/eco) so I can distract myself from the COVID-19. It’s the kind of podcast I would listen to with my cup of coffee. It’s one of my favourite podcasts so far. Keep up the good work Mike.
Mind the pgap!
What a refreshing podcast! It provides a much needed ray of rational sunlight to us catastrophists stuck in the internet bunker awaiting an austere future for humanity. Intrepid campaigner, Michael Bayliss, has returned from a global foraging expedition with a swag of well informed interviewees who talk engagingly about their work to build a better (not bigger) world. Highly recommended!
PS one area of exponential growth I could do without is the unwanted and functionally useless tufts of ear hair that now seem to occupy the most fertile spaces on my otherwise bald head!