As a Fairfax foreign correspondent in the Middle East, Paul McGeough has covered one of the most sensitive beats in the Australian media for many years. In the process, he has won quite a tall stack of awards, as well as a lot of respect both here and abroad.
Australian readers in particular remember his reporting from Iraq as some of the earliest mainstream coverage in this country to seriously question the accounts of that conflict being offered by Western governments with troops there.
And now, for what we believe is the first time, he reveals he did it in standard Australian political footwear …
1. What’s the headline you’d most like to see on the front page of a
World’s last arms manufacturer closes plant, joins former competitors aiding agriculture projects in Africa.
2. If you could oblige everyone in Australia to click through to one
webpage, which one would it be?
The International Crisis Group’s icg.org (invariably, the best and the most informed analysis of crisis and conflict around the world).
3. What is one thing you’ve always wondered about economics but were too
afraid to ask?
Why was the credit mountain allowed to become the Everest that it is?
4. When did you last eat a meat pie?
Probably a couple of years ago — at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, Woolloomooloo.
5. What’s the oldest thing in your fridge?
A portion of lamb-and-spinach curry I made last year.
6. Has anyone got a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
I am unable to absorb the detail of them all.
7. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
1978: On a flight in North Africa, I sat next to the first Palestinian I had met to be advised that Leon Uris left some significant elements of the Middle East Crisis out of Exodus.
8. What’s the household chore you relish the most?
9. What sort of shoes do you wear to work?
On the road, usually RM Williams boots.
10. What campaigning tactic do you most want to see in this year’s
There must be a word missing here — a "not"?
11. Nominate a new public holiday.
Truth Day: no lies may be told.
12. If you could go tomorrow anywhere in Australia for a holiday, where
would you go?
The Bungle Bungles.
13. What’s your favourite YouTube video?
This one, by Norwegian peacekeepers in Kosovo.
14. If you were given $5 million, what would you spend it on?
A mountain retreat.
15. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Ah, that is the seat I go to great lengths to keep empty … But if he was stuck for a ride, I’d enjoy the company of American satirist Bill Maher.
16. What trivia question/topic will you beat everyone else in the pub to
the buzzer on?
Crisis and conflict.
17. Complete this sentence. I’d like to hear Kevin Rudd say "…"
"I promise to speak English."
18. Name someone in Australian public life who deserves a promotion.
The last few premiers of NSW — anything to get them out of office.
19. In 10 words or less, summarise your food philosophy.
A recipe is just a suggestion — look at several for any dish and pluck the best elements of them all … and then mix it up as you feel like it on the day.
20. What question should we ask our next interviewee?
Australia is occupied by a foreign power and you join the resistance — where would you draw the line between name-calling and suicide-bombing?
BONUS QUESTION (from our last interviewee): What is your favourite NGO?
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. Under the leadership of Raji Sourani it does a remarkable job in the face of attacks and intimidation from all sides.
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