The Conversation with Alex Malley

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Sunday 4 December at 10:00am

On the next episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley, Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, reflects on his considerable political career, including the self-doubt he experienced when becoming leader of the opposition Liberal Party, and the horrific situations he faced as Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.

On becoming Leader of the Opposition in 1994 – a position he occupied for less than a year – Downer confides: “I was shocked at the fusilladed abuse that came my way for everything. I was just too inexperienced for the job. I simply wasn’t mentally prepared for it.

“When I think of the attacks there have been on everybody from Tony Abbott to Julia Gillard, to Kevin Rudd and John Howard, in varying degrees, these people have been well-equipped to put up with that.”

Downer’s record 12-year tenure as Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs was riddled with significant international tension and tragedy, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, war in Iraq, the Bali bombings and the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in South-East Asia.

“There was quite a list of experiences that I had that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, and hopefully most politicians will never experience these kinds of events,” he says.

“Going to Bali after the Bali bombings, we had a horrific situation in March 2007 where some people who were travelling with me in Indonesia went ahead on a commercial flight which crashed, and some of them were killed, and others injured.”

The third-generation politician also shares his perspective on what it takes to be an effective political leader.

“You need experience in politics to be good at politics … So just to take someone who is the CEO of a major company and think she might or he might make a great politician, don’t be so sure, they might be absolutely hopeless at it, and this has happened through the years.

“One of the things that I would say about being a politician is it’s easy to respond to the media rather than thinking about ordinary people.”



Sunday, 11 December at 10.00am

On the season finale of In Conversation with Alex Malley, word-leading burns specialist and reconstructive surgeon Professor Fiona Wood AM shares her inspiring career story, from pioneering “spray-on skin” technology, to her tremendous undertaking in leading the treatment of victims of the 2002 Bali Bombings, this Sunday, December 11 at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

In 1993, the mother of six and former Australian of the Year revolutionised burns medicine worldwide with her ground-breaking invention of “spray-on skin,” which significantly accelerated the treatment process of burns patients.

Some years later, as the Director of the Perth Royal Hospital burns unit, Professor Wood was thrust back into the spotlight in the wake of the Bali Bombings, coordinating 130 medical staff to provide life-saving surgery to victims transported from Indonesia.

“The blast injury was really challenging because we don’t work in a war zone; we don’t work in a space where blast injuries are common,” Professor Wood explains.

“The amount of energy and focus and drive and delivery was extraordinary. We did the surgery from Wednesday through to Sunday, running between two and four operating theatres with 19 surgeons in rotation, all buddied up, supported by the nursing team in the operating room, there was at least 60 of them.”

“Everybody just was so focused, that it wasn’t until three weeks (later) that we actually realised what we’d done.”

Professor Wood also speaks candidly about how she copes with such a demanding and confronting job.

“When we’re so hardwired to do, the hardest thing to say is, well actually, there is no light at the end of this tunnel,” she says.

“It is much harder to stop. And those are the harder decisions, when you know that what’s in front of you is overwhelming and it is beyond our capacity.

“And so, coping with those days, it’s a question of, okay, what can I learn from this? What can I glean? What can I do to make sure that somebody else down the track will actually survive because of what we have learnt here today, so no life is wasted.”


This show keeps getting advertised during Nova news breaks – why?? That’s not the audience surely.


I watched the repeat with Peter Overton this morning,always liked this bloke not just for being one of the best newsreaders in this country ,but for his commitment along with his wife to charity work.He is such a genuine person.

New series for 2017 starting next Sunday morning with Alex talking to Michael Clarke.


I know Peter personally and what you see is what you get. Really top bloke.


Saw a poster on the tram shelter on Collins Street in Melbourne CBD yesterday. According to the show’s website, upcoming guests after Michael Clarke include:
Rudy Giuliani (former New York City Mayor)
Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics legend)
Derryn Hinch (broadcaster and federal senator)
Henry Winkler (actor)
Dr Andy Thomas (former astronaut)
Gai Waterhouse (horse trainer)
Don Meij (CEO of Dominos Australia) <- this episode could be controversial after Fairfax Media yesterday broke the story of Dominos franchisees underpaying workers.



Sunday 19 February at 10.00am

In Conversation with Alex Malley returns for a third series featuring more revealing and thought-provoking interviews with inspiring Australian and international guests, on Sunday, February 19, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

In the weekly eight-part series, CPA Australia chief executive and host Alex Malley sits down with high-profile leaders from the worlds of business, entertainment, sport and politics to discuss the story behind their careers.

This season’s guests include: former New York mayor and Donald Trump presidential campaign adviser, Rudy Giuliani; Olympic gold medallist Nadia Comaneci; media personality and Senator, Derryn Hinch; Australia’s “first lady” of horse racing, Gai Waterhouse; Hollywood actor and producer Henry Winkler; Australian-born NASA astronaut Andy Thomas; and Don Meij, CEO of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises.

In episode one Malley is joined by Australia’s former cricket captain, Michael Clarke, who shares a strikingly candid account of a career and personal life under the unrelenting glare of the public spotlight, including the highs and lows at the helm of the national team.

“I was built up to be the next Australian captain from such a young age and I hated that because I didn’t have a dream to captain Australia. If I never captained Australia I don’t think it would’ve had any impact on my career,” Clarke admits.

“You know, to this day I still feel like I let Ricky (Ponting) down as vice-captain, and I think that was because I was always so scared of treading on his toes.

“(We had) two complete different styles that was spoken about too regularly and too openly, in my opinion, for me to feel comfortable to be completely honest with Ricky.

“My teammates could see straight through me. They could see that I didn’t agree with what Ricky was saying, or I thought there was another way and sometimes my silence, with a lot of things through my career, was my greatest enemy. The fact that I didn’t come out and say something caused me to cop criticism.”

Clarke also opens up on his highly publicised clash with teammate Andrew Symonds.

“I made a conscious decision that when I got offered the vice-captaincy and the captaincy that I had to put the team first as one of the leaders. And unfortunately … I think he would’ve liked me to have backed him as his friend, but I don’t believe backing him as his friend was the right decision for the team, so I chose the team.

“You know, still it’s hard for me now, especially after cricket, to not have that friendship that I cherished so much. And, like I say, sometimes that is part of leadership, but it’s never easy.”

The prolific batsman also talks about his struggle to come to terms with the tragic death of his teammate and good friend, Phillip Hughes.

“I guess I’ve avoided looking back since Phillip passed because it’s so difficult to still try and fathom,” says Clarke. “I still don’t believe I completely comprehend that he’s not with us anymore. It’s still devastating… and hard to talk about.”



Sunday 26 February at 10.00am

On the next episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley, Rudy Giuliani, the 107th Mayor of New York City from 1993 to 2001, shares his remarkable career experiences, including leading the response and recovery during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, on Sunday, February 26, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

In 1970, Giuliani joined the office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he swiftly rose through the ranks to become chief of the Narcotics Unit at the age of 29. He was then appointed Associate Attorney General before becoming US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a role considered a demotion.

“I had a sense that … I could be a good Associate Attorney General, but I could be a great US Attorney, because I really knew all the elements of both the US Attorney’s office, the FBI, the police, and I knew where all the bad guys were,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani would go on to spearhead successful operations against organised crime, white-collar criminals and corrupt elected officials, resulting in a record 4,152 convictions during his tenure.

On his monumental experience as Mayor of New York City during the September 11 terrorist attacks, Giuliani reflects: “The first thing that changed my emotion was watching a man jump out of the 100th floor. And I grabbed the Police Commissioner’s arm when that happened and I said, ‘This is much worse than we’ve handled before. We don’t have a plan for it. We’re just going to have to go with our gut and our instinct and pray to God that we get it right’.

“September 11 just completely changed my life. There isn’t a day that goes by that it either doesn’t come up, or I don’t think about it.”

Giuliani also explains his ardent support for US President Donald Trump.

“First of all, I’ve known him for 28 years, so he’s a good friend. He’s a much more regular guy than you’d expect.

“He is a showman; he loves to create a little drama. And he understands how to, you know, command the discussion and keep the agenda on the agenda he wants it on.

“He understands that to get attention sometimes you have to overstate, and then you can pull back from the overstatement. Maybe that comes from his experience as a real estate negotiator.

“People never got that about him, that a lot of what he says he believes in, but it’s a negotiating position. It’s, ‘Here’s where we’re going to start, doesn’t mean we’re going to end up there’. And I think he’s going to turn out to be a very good President because that negotiating skill is a great skill for a President.”

Giuliani also says of Trump: “This is an extraordinarily intelligent man. He didn’t build all these buildings and all these golf courses through stupidity.”



Sunday 5 March 5at 10.00am

On the next episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley, Nadia Comaneci, the first ever Olympic gymnast to score a perfect 10, reflects on her extraordinary career journey, including escaping her home in communist Romania for a new life in the United States, on Sunday, March 5, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

At the age of just 14, Comaneci captured the world’s attention when she became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. She would go on to score seven perfect tens in total.

On how unprepared the world was for her seamless performance, Comaneci reflects with amusement: “I think that the organiser, they asked the International Gymnastic Federation, ‘Shall we make the scoreboard in such a way to accommodate a 10?’ And the International Gymnastic Federation said, ‘No, don’t worry, because nobody’s going to score a 10’.”

Romania’s new national hero, who appeared on the covers of TIME, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated all in the same week, arrived home to an airport teeming with thousands of fans, a reception that made her want to stay on the plane.

“I didn’t expect to see so many people,” says Comaneci. “You know, I’m going back to the fourteen-year-old, I didn’t know what I had done, I didn’t realise what I had done.”

In 1989, a few weeks before the Romanian Revolution, under the cover of night Comaneci and a party of others illegally fled the then Communist country, commencing a daring overland journey through Hungary and Austria. Her desired final destination was the United States.

“I didn’t think it was so crazy and dangerous at the time,” Comaneci explains.

“I knew that people are looking for me because I went into a store and I saw my picture in the newspaper. So we moved very quick, in such a way that nobody could get too close. And then I got to the US Embassy in Austria, they told me that everybody is looking for me … there’s a flight that goes to New York in two hours. They took me with a police escort – it was, like, exactly like in the movies.”

Today Comaneci is a prolific business leader. With her husband Bart Conner, a fellow former Olympic gymnastics champion, she owns the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy, a television production company, a gymnastics equipment manufacturing business, and is the editor of International Gymnast Magazine.

“It’s (our business) everything that is connected with what we know – gymnastics. I think it’s important to stay around the things that you know.

“I think it’s important to be able to use what you’ve learned and to expand and give it around to people who need it.”



Sunday 12 March at 10.00am

On the next episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley, veteran broadcaster and now Senator, Derryn Hinch, shares his roller-coaster life, including the highs and lows of 50 years in the media, surviving liver cancer, going to jail, and his new career in politics – Sunday, March 12, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

Asked how he has found being a politician to date, Hinch says: “People joke about, ‘oh, you know, bloody pollies getting all this money’, and we are extremely well paid. And I think it’s a disgrace that in the last half of 2016 (there were) only 20 or 30 (parliamentary) sitting days and, I mean, they back-paid us to July 1 or 2 when we didn’t sit till August 30. But you do work hard.”

Diagnosed with liver cancer in 2010 and given only months to live without transplant surgery, Hinch recounts his experience: “My drinking, and I’m not excusing it because I used to drink for Australia, I was a bloody idiot. My drinking did not cause my cancer.

“But my drinking contributed to my minimal chances of survival … without a transplant I was going to die.

“When I thought I was going to die, I’d made my plans that I would take myself out when the time came, and I should be allowed to have my family and friends around and maybe have a glass of Grange and say to them, ‘okay guys, time to go’.”

Hinch also talks about life behind bars, particularly after being convicted for breaching a court suppression order when he published details about murderer Adrian Bayley’s criminal history on his website.

“After a few days I was told, and it surprised me, that the man who caused me to be in there on this occasion, Jill Meagher’s killer Adrian Bayley, we were both in the same prison on the same fifth floor – he was two cells from me.”



Sunday 19 March at 10.00am

The next episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley features actor, producer and author Henry Winkler, “the Fonz” from Happy Days who went on to co-create the highly successful children’s book series, Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever.

In the interview on Sunday, March 19, at 10.00am on Channel Nine, Winkler confesses that even after all of his career success, he wasn’t “confident as a human being until ten years ago”.

After beating hundreds of actors who auditioned for the tough-guy role of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli in the mega-hit 1970s sitcom Happy Days, Winkler shot to international stardom. But when Happy Days was cancelled in 1984 he struggled to find continued success as an actor.

“I was the number one star on television, I thought I had it made,” Winkler explains. “I thought I would just now go from mountain top to mountain top and then I looked down and there were a lot of grass stains on my jeans as I slid right into the valley.

“It was a cold period for acting, I would say for nine years. People were asking me to do the same character, so I started to produce. Didn’t know how to produce, (but) I figured out what I could do in that process.”

Winkler went on to form his own production company and created many successful television shows, including the popular action-adventure series, MacGyver.

As a child, Winkler’s parents labelled him “dumb dog” due to his learning difficulties. Later in life he would learn that he suffered from dyslexia, a condition which became the inspiration behind Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever novel series, which he co-writes with Lin Oliver.

Talking about the dyslexic protagonist of the series, Winkler says: “The emotion is me. I remember what it was to be eight or ten and not be able to figure anything out and the panic, and the shame and the fear, and then the humiliation … everybody telling me I’m stupid, I’m never going to achieve.

“If your child is having a problem, do not bury your head in the sand, do not be embarrassed. Your job is to tell them for the rest of their lives, ‘they are just fine’, because they don’t believe it and you need to help them believe it.”

Winkler also talks about his career regrets, including passing on a role that would catapult a fellow actor onto the Hollywood A-list.

“When I was doing Happy Days, I was offered (the role of) Danny Zuko in Grease. And I, being the thoughtful person I am, said, ‘you know, I’ve done the Fonz so I don’t think so’. So they went and they got John Travolta, who was magnificent.

“I was worried about typecasting. Of course, today, 40-some-odd years later, people still call me the Fonz.”



Sunday 26 March at 10.00am

On this weekend’s episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley, former NASA astronaut Andy Thomas gives a remarkable account of his journey from Adelaide to outer space and his perspective on the likelihood of people landing on Mars, this Sunday, March 26, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

In 1992, after completing a rigorous application process which included background checks by the FBI, Thomas received a call from the Johnson Space Centre notifying him that he’d been selected to train to become a NASA astronaut.

“You try to be polite and say ‘thank you, that’s terrific,’ but you hang up the phone and you just sit there, stunned,” Thomas explains. “Like, I had made this dream, this highly improbable dream, become a reality.”

Thomas gives a fascinating account of the lead-up to lift-off and entering space.

“At six seconds before launch the main engines are started … there’s this most tremendous explosion. The ground lights up around you. And everything starts shaking. If you happen to be by a window you see the launch tower just rush by and it’s gone. You’re burning fuel at this point at a rate of 12 tonnes a second.

“And at eight and a half minutes after that, all the fuel’s depleted from the external tank. You hear a jolt. The engines shut down. The tank is released and you’re coasting in zero gravity and there you’ve arrived in orbit after just eight and half minutes, doing about 28,000 kilometres an hour. It is the ride of your life.

“The most important thing that I observed about the Earth was, good Lord, we’re making a mess of it. It is staggering where you can see what happens on one continent having global implications on another continent, and it leaves you with a feeling that this is the only planet we’ve got and we need to take better care of it, because what is being done is incredibly dangerous.”

On the future of space travel and human exploration of Mars, Thomas says: “I think the future will be determined largely by people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, not so much Richard Branson, his technology is very limited… it will be people with deep pockets, like Elon Musk, who drive the agenda and use the resource of agencies like NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) and the other space agencies to build a commercial enterprise… and if you believe Elon, and there’s no reason to doubt him, ultimately to get people on to the surface of Mars… we may see that happen in the 2030s.

“For getting to Mars there’s a lot of technical challenges. The biggest one is the distance. It’s six to eight months one way, and when you get to Mars the Earth is getting further and further away from you, so you either have to immediately come back, or, if you want to stay any length of time, you have to wait until the Earth has come around and caught up with you, so you have something like a year-and-a-half stay on the surface of Mars.

“So the logistics required to send people there and provide resources for them to live off while they’re there are huge. It’s a big engineering undertaking.”



Sunday 2 April at 10.00am

On the next episode of In Conversation with Alex Malley, horse trainer Gai Waterhouse, Australia’s “first lady of racing”, speaks about her remarkable career, from fighting sex discrimination and scandals to winning the Melbourne Cup, this Sunday, April 2, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

The daughter of legendary trainer T.J. Smith faced a difficult beginning to her own career, with her application for a trainer’s licence initially rejected by the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) in the aftermath of her bookmaker husband Robbie Waterhouse’s involvement in the infamous Fine Cotton ring-in scandal.

“I just went for my licence after asking the powers that be at the AJC, ‘Would I have any problem?’, knowing that Rob was warned off, and they said, ‘Not at all, go for it and you’ll have it the next day’,” explains Waterhouse. “Well, it didn’t happen like that.

“I went first to the Anti-Discrimination (Board) and it was thrown out, I lost the case. And I thought, I’ve been wrongly done by here. We went again and we won that and it was about to go into the High Court, because they (the AJC) contested, then they stood back and they said, ‘No, here’s your licence’. It took two and a half years.

“They made an Act in Parliament after that called the Waterhouse Act for women in the workforce, you know, to give us a fair go, and not be seen as an appendage of your husband. And whatever might happen with your partner or husband, to be seen in your own right.”

Waterhouse also talks about facing public criticism, including her son Tom’s experience as the owner of the wagering business, saying: “No one likes to be criticised and no one likes to be criticised publicly because people then question your values and question your family, and that hurts to the core, but it makes you a much stronger person at the end of the time.”

On winning the Melbourne Cup in 2013 with Fiorente, Waterhouse says “It is the biggest event we have in Australia. It is recognised throughout the world, in every country of the world, and so everyone in your own country, everyone overseas knows you’ve won it. And it’s just, so much elation. You know, you’re feeling elated, you’re feeling relief, you’re feeling ecstatic, you feel wonderful for the owners that you’ve given them the dream of a lifetime.”



Sunday 9 April at 10.00am

In the season finale of In Conversation with Alex Malley, Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Domino’s, Don Meij, speaks about working his way up from delivering pizzas to running one of Australia’s most successful businesses, this Sunday, April 9, at 10.00am on Channel Nine.

In 1987, while studying to become a high school teacher, Meij took up a job as a delivery driver for Silvio’s Dial-a-Pizza in Brisbane. Struck by the dynamism of business, he decided to give up his studies to pursue a career in the pizza industry fulltime.

“I had that entrepreneurial streak, and that repetitive part of learning where you have to teach the same class over and over was not inspiring me enough. With business you’re rewarded when you make things, you change things,” he says.

And change things Meij certainly has. At the helm of the largest pizza chain in Australia, he has introduced a range of technological innovations to enhance customer offerings, including Australia’s first automated delivery vehicle, the DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit).

“With the internet of food and the internet of retail, the amount of items that need delivering is way beyond the number of delivery drivers we’ll access,” says Meij.

“I always think it is really funny when someone says, ‘Well aren’t you going to take away employment?’. Well in three to five years we’re going to have more drivers than we have today, and about 50 per cent will hopefully be automated on top of that. And that’s just to meet, number one, the pent-up demand of things that need to be delivered.

“The second thing is that automated delivery is safer and more cost-effective … to the point of if we don’t do it, it’s coming anyway … it’s a revolution. Whoever does it first really does have a big competitive advantage.

“And it creates another new economy. They’ve got to have phone rooms, they’ve got to be continually maintained and reset to new thinking and growing, so it’s a new ecosystem that, as it speeds up, is creating more and more jobs. So I’m not one of the subscribers that the AI and robotic era is going to take away jobs, I think it’s just going to fuel more jobs.”

Meij also provides some interesting insights on the origins of the global enterprise. “It was originally Dominick’s. Tom Monaghan (Domino’s founder), who I know well, he thought it needed to sound more Italian, so he called it Domino’s, and the logo dots were actually marking the number of stores. So our logo’s born out of the number of stores there was at that time.”


CPA has terminated Alex Malley’s contract over accusations of his excessive salary ($1.8 million) and much of the organisation’s marketing budget used to boost his personal profile. CPA’s chief operating officer Adam Awty will be the interim CEO.

I guess this will be the end of the show?