Bartlett's Blog

Andrew Bartlett has been active in politics for over 20 years, including as a Queensland Senator from 1997-2008. This blog started in 2004 and reflects his own views, independent of any political party or organisation.

Wild Rivers

Contention over Queensland's  Wild Rivers legislation has been bubbling along for quite a while now. Unfortunately, as with many issues which become polarised, each "side" is focused on defending their position, which has meant that some important underlying issues are not getting the attention they deserve. I've just had a piece on this topic published at The Drum on the ABC's website.  It's fairly long, so they published it ...


Senate committee reports on international students issue

I mentioned in this post about appearing before a Senate Committee hearing  as patr of their inquiry into the welfare of international students.  That Committee tabled its report in the Senate in the final sitting days of the year.  Almost all the attention at the time was on the legislation dealing with climate change, and the related leadership tension in the Liberal Party, so the report got fairly limited ...

Senate’s International students inquiry – the questioner gets questioned

I had the slightly curious but none the less worthwhile experience a couple of weeks ago of providing evidence to a public hearing a Senate Committee inquiry, sitting on the opposite side of the table from where I’d been so many times since 1997. The inquiry is into issues surrounding international students.  While a lot of the media coverage has focused on violence towards some students in some southern ...

One Last Hurdle? – 18 years since Senate Committee called for Jump Racing ban

Racing Victoria meets tomorrow (Wednesday 13 May) to decide whether or not to finally follow every other state (except South Australia) in banning jumps racing. (UPDATE - decision postponed until "later in the week") Nearly a year ago, I said such a ban was well overdue. Instead, there was another review, followed by more ‘improvements’, followed by more horse deaths.  At the time I mentioned there had been two ...

Sexualisation of children report

The Senate Committee report into the sexualisation of children was tabled last week. It doesn’t seem to have pleased some of the children’s advocacy groups, or Family First for that matter. Clive Hamilton, who has campaigned on the issue for some time, is also pretty peeved, if his piece in Crikey is anything to go by – although I have to say I found his ‘pretend advertising industry memo’ a ...

Live blogging at the Telegraph on the Stolen Generations

The Senate Committee report into my legislation on a compensation system for the Stolen Generations was tabled yesterday. The Committee didn't directly support a national system of compensation, but did put forward some other useful recommendations. You can read my additional comments at this link. The Daily Telegraph has invited me to 'debate' people and answers questions live through their website at 9am tomorrow (Wednesday). You can ask a ...

Report into housing affordability tabled

I've written a few earlier posts about the Senate Inquiry into Housing Affordability that was set up earlier this year. The Committee brought down its report yesterday – you can access it by clicking here. Whilst both I and the Greens' Senator Rachel Siewert added some additional comments, the report has 32 recommendations which had the unanimous support of Liberal and Labor Senators. I think it's a very good ...

Intercepting communications – now and then

As I mentioned in my preceding post, I've been at Committee hearings in Sydney and Darwin this week examining two proposed pieces of legislation – one to provide compensation to members of the Stolen Generations, and one which seeks to restore euthanasia laws in the Northern Territory. Being private Senators Bills (that is, not from the government), neither of these Bills are very likely to pass in the ...

Euthanasia Bill hearing in Darwin

I'm in Darwin at the moment for Committee hearings into two separate private Senators' Bills. One, introduced by Bob Brown, is aimed at restoring the right of the Northern Territory Parliament to legislate in areas relating to euthanasia. The other was introduced by me and is aimed at instituting a national system for providing compensation to the Stolen Generations. Unfortunately, being in Darwin means I had to miss ...

Housing inquiry hearing in Karratha

I was in Karratha, Western Australia today with the Senate Committee inquiring into housing affordability. I hadn't been to this town before, although I have previously been to Port Hedland, which is 'just up the road' (about 240 kilometres)

Housing Inquiry – Campbelltown to Karratha

I’ve been at public hearings over the last three days for the Senate Committee inquiry into Housing Affordability. I won’t give running commentaries on all the evidence presented here. Anyone wanting to engage in some online discussion on some policy specifics might want to visit Possum Pollytics, which has a few posts on the topic. One of those pointed to a recent easy to read and fairly short speech on ...

Housing Affordability inquiry starts hearings

Public hearings for the Senate Inquiry into housing affordability got underway in Canberra today. The Inquiry is due to report by June 16.  The first day of hearings included evidence from people such as the newly expanded Housing section in the Department of Families, the Master Builders' Association, the Planning Institute, the Urban Development Institute, Housing Industry Association, NATSEM, and Treasury. Submissions and the transcripts of hearings can be ...

Some current Senate Committee Inquiries

The federal Parliament is now on a seven week break, and doesn’t sit again until May 13th, the day the Rudd government brings down its first Budget. In the case of the Senate, this will be just the eleventh sitting day for the year. However, there is a lot of work in the Senate that happens outside of sitting days, not least through Senate Committee inquiries. After spending most ...

Senate inquiry into sexualisation of children

I wrote a post back in 2006 about some of the concerns surrounding what is perceived to be the growing sexualisation in the portrayal of children in advertising and elsewhere in the media.  The issue has now been sent to the Senate’s Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee for an inquiry, which is due to report by 23 June, 2008. I’m Deputy Chair of this Committee, but I’m also involved ...

Senate Committee examining NT laws not hearing from authors of Little Children are Sacred report

The Liberal government has used its control of the Senate to force two Committees to hold just single day hearings tomorrow (Friday) into (1) the entire pack of legislation relating the Northern Territory Aboriginal intervention and other welfare quarantining measures, and (2) the Water Bill, implementing the government's contentious Murray-Darling Basin measures. In both cases, the legislation being examined was only introduced into Parliament this week. Some of the ...

The time has come, a fact’s a fact, it belongs to them …..

Late last year, the federal Senate handed down its findings from an inquiry into the stolen wages issue. But the report's long-overdue completion sparked the sort of political response you might expect from a Senate inquiry into navel lint. Rural and remote Queensland could not have developed without Aboriginal labour, frequently acknowledged as more skilled and reliable that white workers. Every dimension of this labour was controlled by the ...

Advertising a law that doesn’t exist

Senate Estimates have provided many opportunities for Senators to try to establish the cost and nature of taxpayer funded advertising across a range of departments, finding that "the total media spend on current Government ads is $111 million." However, the big focus is still on the (not)Workchoices advertising campaign. This is partly because it is very expensive, and partly because it is clearly aimed as much ...


I'm in Canberra this week for Estimates Committee hearings, which are always held soon after the Budget. You can read a short briefing paper on the Senate Estimates process at this link (from which the graphic at the bottom of this post is taken). As the Budget has become used more as an opportunity for the government to reframe political debate and perceptions, becoming just one ...

Do Queenslanders care about the Queensland lungfish?

I’ve lived all my life in south-east Queensland, and it’s fair to say that sometimes Queenslanders can be very parochial. We grab onto all sorts of things to try to show how Queenslanders are special, especially if it makes us look better than the ‘southerners’. Parochialism isn’t unique to Queensland of course, but we can certainly lay it on thick sometimes. But occasionally I have to wonder ...

Senate Committee to inquire into workplace legislation changes – without the legislation

A week or so ago the government announced changes to our workplace laws. It did so with great fanfare and at great cost to the taxpayer through widespread advertising of their new policy. Today in the Senate we discovered that the government is so enamoured with their new changes that they are trying to ensure there is minimal opportunity for the rest of the community to check out the ...


Mini Posts

  • Rhetoric vs reality

    I’ve had a break from writing for a variety of reasons, but the reckless approach the new Queensland government is taking to their spending decisions – and the straightout nonsensicality of some of their claims – roused me enough to pen a piece for New Matilda. Time will tell whether the Newman government will start trying to ensure their statements have some connection with reality – I suggest the way they respond next year to the findings of the inquiry into child safety which they’ve established will be a significant test.

  • End of LP the end of a blogging era

    Back in October, I wrote here about the decline or re-defining of blogs, at least in the Australian political arena.  The relatively few posts I’ve done on this blog since then shows how much less useful I find it to do my own blog than I used to, and as I mentioned back then, a big reason why I don’t read many of the blogs I used to is because the valuable links to many interesting stories, ideas and pieces of information can be found more easily through Twitter or Facebook, sometimes with comment threads which are also at least as good. The recent announcement by the Larvatus Prodeo blog that they are ceasing to operate is quite a significant one.

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  • A final comment on Labor's leadership laments

    Fundamentally, I don’t greatly care about the outcome of Labor’s leadership travails. As my previous post indicates, the bigger issue is that the ALP is being fundamentally damaged by the toxicity of this brawl, and the fact that the brawl is happening in this way is a sign of some much greater problems within Labor. Whatever the immediate outcome, I think those problems are likely to continue.  The outcome of the leadership contest (including the size of what will surely be a Gillard victory) will shape how those problems play out, but they will still be there. Not surprisingly, I see this as presenting an opportunity for the Greens to build some support, but more importantly it presets extra responsibility and obligation for the Greens to be a stronger counter to what is a seriously reactionary Coalition. But seeing we’re all pundits now, and despite having little inside knowledge, my prediction is that there will be no ‘third candidate’ in tomorrow’s leadership ballot.  Julia Gillard will win comfortably. The instability will not disappear. It’s quite possible there will be another leadership ballot before the election but Kevin Rudd will not become leader then either. No matter how good Kevin Rudd looks in the polls, that polling lead would disappear very quickly if he was back in the PM’s job.

  • A long time between hits

    In amongst all the politics and policy stuff, I try to make time to do some things that are completely disconnected from that*.  One thing I’ve found myself doing recently is doing a bit of practicing with a band, which has led to me doing a live performance for the first time in a long time.  Readers of this blog with a very long memory for minor matters may recall that I played keyboards in a couple of mini-performances with a band as part of promoting the Rock Against Howard compilation CD prior to the 2004 election.  However, drumming is what I’m better at – although I’m still a long way short of being able to say I’m good at it – which is what I am doing in the band I’m currently doing stuff with.  They’re doing their first full live Brisbane show tonight – which I think will be the first time since 1988 I’ve played drums in a live show.  It’s all nice and low-key, and for peoples’ enjoyment rather with an eye to making money out of it, so will make a nice change. *Actually, I don’t think anything is completely disconnected from politics. By coincidence, today also happens to be National SLAM Day – Save Live Australian Music.  As their website shows,

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  • The Ups & Downs of Ups & Downs - interview with Greg Atkinson

    I’ve mentioned before my liking for the 80s Brisbane band Ups and Downs. I got a chance to interview their lead singer Greg Atkinson on 4ZzZ FM a few weeks ago. They’ve released a compilation CD of 20 of their best tunes and played a gig in Brisbane earlier this month to promote and celebrate it. It was a fairly long interview, but I found it very interesting to hear the views of someone who has been active in the independent sphere of the music industry for so long about what has changed and what is the same. You can listen to the interview at this link.

  • Speeches to refugee rally + SIEV-X exhibition

    A local activist helpfully recorded speeches given by myself and by Julian Burnside at a refugee rights rally held in Brisbane last Saturday.  You can listen to them here and here. The rally was held to mark the tenth anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X.  353 refugees drowned when that refugee boat sank on the way to Australia on 19 October 2001.  There is a beautiful exhibition at The Studio on the ground level at the State Library of Qld this week, commemorating that anniversary. It finishes this weekend – I strongly recommend you try to get along for a look if you have a chance. The Library also has a screening of the documentary Hope on Friday October 28 – this film tell the story of Amal Basry, one of the few survivors of that tragedy.

  • Stuff from my 4ZZZ shift this week

    Every Monday morning I do a shift on radio 4ZzZ FM102.1 – Brisbane’s longest serving community radio station (36 years old this year). And almost every week I talk with social media expert and lawyer Peter Black about some current political and other issues. You can listen to our talk this week by clicking on this link (it goes for over 30 minutes and has the occasional sweary word, so probably best just for dedicated fans). You can see the songlist I played this week – as usual featuring a sizable number of local artists – at this link, which in most cases also contains further links to other videos, information or photos of the artists.