Have You Heard... The Good Life

amclellan, 20th July 2017

Coming to the Community Radio Network in August 2017 is The Good Life: Andrew Leigh in Conversation. 

Hosted by Andrew Leigh MP, this series sits down each week with a notable Australian who has been influential across a facet of public life. Though he's currently a sitting member of Parliament, the program steers around any familiar broadcast politicking.

Andrew gets to know one-on-one what it takes across business, sport, art and culture, the community sector, politics, advocacy and science to commit to a happy, healthy and ethical life, and what lessons can only be learned up along the way.

We asked Andrew Leigh (pictured left, fresh after being interviewed himself by Richard Fidler) about the series and what listeners can expect.

In The Good Life you interview people who about living a “happy, healthy and ethical life”. Why did you start the program and come to specifically address these aspects of how we live in 2017?

There’s a long tradition – going back at least to Seneca – of practicing politicians thinking about what it means to live a full and meaningful life. I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have the chance to serve in the federal parliament, but I’m also aware that those who focus only on politics and policy can miss the opportunity to engage in broader issues, including ethics, decency, philosophy, exercise, art and literature.   

What do you look for in the guests you invite onto the program?

My favourite guests are those who are very different from myself. Linda Burney’s was raised by adoptive parents born before Federation. Carl Vine has a visceral dislike of background music. Robert Dessaix once invented his own language. When I finish an interview with one of these extraordinary people, I feel like the colours around me are brighter, the smells are stronger, the sounds more sparkling. I feel like I’m more alive than ever.

You have a background in economics, and are a working politician: how do these roles inform your approach to the conversations?

Great question. People often make the mistake of thinking that economics is about money. In fact, as we teach our first year students, it’s about maximising happiness. But behavioural economists have noted that we often make systematic errors. Talking with smart people about living a good life is one way that I hope to make fewer of these kinds of mistakes myself. As to being a politician, The Good Life conversations have made me a little more inclined to appreciate the daily pleasures of my job, and a little less likely to worry about where I might be on the political pecking order.

Tell us a couple of highlights from The Good Life so far.

Tim Costello on gambling addicts who threw their lives away, Michael Kirby discussing the role of love, Jane Halton on hitting the glass ceiling, and Maile Carnegie’s (pictured) unusual way of handling email.

Do you feel these in-depth conversations have inspired change in YOU?

Absolutely. Palliative care nurse Nikki Johnston was a guest on my podcast, and told me about having witnessed thousands of deaths during her career. I often apply the ‘deathbed test’ to big problems (in other words, “when I’m lying on my deathbed, what would I wish I’d done?”). For example, Nikki told me that watching people at the end of their lives made her worry a lot less about her appearance, but a lot more about her health.

Speaking of the political life, the day job must keep you extremely busy. How do you personally ensure you’re living a happy, healthy and ethical life?

In an occupation where most of my co-workers are fly-in, fly-out employees, I’m extremely lucky to represent the northern part of Canberra. It means that I’m able to at least have breakfast with Gweneth and our three boys on a sittings day. On weekends, I try to get along to the kids’ sporting events, and grab some one-on-one time with each of the boys. The podcast has also been a venue through which I’ve spoken with some of my favourite runners, including Rob De Castella (pictured) and Dick Telford, which has encouraged me to push things a bit with my training (I run about an hour a day, and my current goal is to break 2:40 for the marathon).

For CRN subscribers:

  • Begins distribution Friday 4 August 2017
  • The Good Life (55'50) is broadcast/distributed by CRN Fridays from 18:04 EST/EDT, and is available for DDN capture
  • Aug and Sep episodes include Tim Costello, Annabel Crabb, Bob Carr, Carl Vine, and Linda Burney
  • For more information contact CRN staff on 02 9310 2999 or email [email protected]

Not a CRN subscriber, but want to find out more about getting content like this for your station? Read more here.

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Andrew Leigh created The Good Life because he wanted the chance to stop, sit down with someone and just chat about what drives them, inspires them, interests them and why. For five years, Andrew and guests have been covering issues such as friendship, mental health, success, finding identity and how to accept it. He has chatted with experts in their field, ranging from one of the biggest living names in philosophy Alain de Botton, to Bruce Pascoe, author of award-winning ‘Dark Emu’. He has spoken with athletes like Craig Foster, and former Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Malcolm Turnbull. He has talked to community builders like Astrid Jorgensen, founder of pub choir and scientists Alan Finkel and Michelle Simmons. We asked him a couple of questions about the show, check out his answers. 


Discussions and Q&As from Andrew Denton, Cordelia Fine, Richard Denniss & Rebecca Huntley.


The internet provides a means for non-professional media-makers to produce and publish their own video and audio content, as community television and radio have done for several decades. While the web seems to exemplify the principles of media access and diversity championed by the community media sector, it also raises challenges for broadcast community media participants and their online equivalents, not least being the co-opting of the term ‘community media’ by large commercial interests. A symposium held in Melbourne by Open Spectrum Australia (‘Quality/Control’, State Library of Victoria, Oct 2008) brought together people with a wide range of community media experience to discuss this and other issues, particularly the possibilities for greater cooperation between broadcast and online community media participants.

This paper draws on participant contributions at the symposium to explore the relationship between broadcast and online community media. Despite shared values, we identify different, and possibly incompatible, cultures within the two groups. We argue that this disjoint stems from two different systems of control or validation (licensing and networks), as well as producer-centered accounts of community media that are out of sync with the contemporary media environment. Instead, we propose that theory and practice begin to address issues of consumption in relation to community media, including identification, navigation and the notion of ethical choice.