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Non-Politicians Talking Politics: Australian Radio Host Richard Glover


The 2016 elections are over. But there may be more politics than ever to talk about. Today, we return to our series of conversations with people who aren't in politics. We're joined by our friend Richard Glover who hosts a popular and well-regarded radio show on the ABC in Sydney, Australia. He's also an author, including the best-selling family memoir "Flesh Wounds" and the hilarious "Desperate Husbands." He's also a playwright, essayist and devoted father of two. In fact, I'm honored when people say I'm sort of a Richard-Glover-wannabe in America. Richard Glover joins us from Sydney.

Thanks so much for being with us.


RICHARD GLOVER: You're too kind, Scott Simon.

SIMON: You're on the other side of the world, Richard. But I gather the level of interest in the U.S. elections was - forgive me this - huge.

GLOVER: We were obsessed with it. Now, look - on television and radio a couple of weeks before our own election, which was not so long ago, TV and radio had about 9,000 items on our own election. At the same point in your election cycle, we were running 17,000 items (laughter)...

SIMON: Oh, my word.

GLOVER: ...From Clinton. So we were running more than twice as much on your election as we did on our own.


SIMON: And the reason?

GLOVER: Oh, God, I don't know - well, we were obsessed with it. Partly, I think it was such an interesting election. Also, it is that question of the leadership of the free world, without being too grand about it. Australia is this former British colony at the foot of Asia. We've been involved - we've been in lockstep with America in every battle you have fought for a century. We were there in Vietnam. We were there in Korea. We were there in Iraq. We were there in Afghanistan. We are slightly apprehensive about the rise of China. We are very good friends with China, perhaps better friends than America is. We - they are our main trading partner. But we wonder about the world in which they take effective leadership of the world rather than our friends in the United States.

SIMON: Well, it raises this in my mind 'cause there have been headlines in Australia about, sometimes, the very harsh detention facilities in which some migrants have been kept. Thanksgiving week here in the United States, both of our countries, on major holidays especially, like to define ourselves as havens for the rest of the world from cruel regimes - and lands of opportunity. Are those images we have of ourselves being recast?

GLOVER: I certainly think one of the really amazing things about Mr. Trump's victory is there's been an immediate - what one of my friends calls a jump-to-the-Trump in Australia. So you've got politicians of all sides looking at this amazing result in America and thinking, I'd like a bit of that. Can I have a bit of that? And so the opposition leader has been talking about immigrants stealing people's jobs. The prime minister has started talking about media elites in exactly the same terms (laughter) as President-elect Trump.

So he is - our prime minister is a multimillionaire who lives in a harborside mansion so glorious on Sydney Harbour that he doesn't want to live in the official accommodation which is so much worse.

SIMON: (Laughter).

GLOVER: Sound familiar?

SIMON: I - no, it does, as a matter of fact.

GLOVER: (Laughter) Yes, there's been an instant desire to try to take some of the rhetoric that has done so well for Mr. Trump and apply it to Australian politics.

SIMON: And is that fertile ground, do you think?

GLOVER: I don't know if it's as quite as fertile ground as it has been in America, partly because, as you say, this use of offshore islands to deter asylum seekers who come by boat has been amazingly successful. It's been viewed as very cruel by some people, but it has been successful. And so it has reduced the temperature around illegal immigration.

In terms of the economy, too, things are slightly different here. We haven't had a recession for 25 years in Australia. It's partly because of our trade with China. China's been doing relatively well. So some of the tensions around a low-wage economy haven't quite happened here in the same way as they have in the United States.

SIMON: But both countries have a sense that this is a new age we're entering?

GLOVER: Look, I think there's just a lot of apprehension in Australia about the Trump victory. It's not that there are - some people are supportive, of course, and some people are dismayed by it. I think one thing that draws most people together - maybe 80 percent of the people - is a very strong view of American leadership and the American alliance. If Trump really can build up American infrastructure, that will help reinflate the world economy, and that would be a good thing. And you know, Australians have - we have traveled through LA airport. We think you guys could spring for a new carpet.

SIMON: (Laughter) I would...

GLOVER: Often, we think about handing the cup around and collecting a few coins (laughter).

SIMON: Yeah, I would do that personally if I could. Richard, I'm really sorry.

Richard Glover in Sydney - thanks so much for being with us.

GLOVER: Thanks, Scott. It's been fun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.