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.

Benefits of Migration

In the last year or so, those who regularly argue that migration levels somehow harm Australians and the Australian economy achieved much more political traction than usual, leading to all political parties sending various signals suggesting that migration should possibly be scaled back.  This has been one factor  (amongst four or five others) linked to a dramatic drop in the number of ...


More shameless hate-mongering from some political ‘leaders’

In yet another example of why paying attention to political commentary can be a nausea inducing activity, some senior federal Liberal MPs are yet again engaging in blatant, deliberate and extreme hate-mongering towards Muslim Australians. Former frontbencher and serial Muslim-basher Cory Bernardi equated Islam and the practice of halal meat as "an ideology that is mired in sixth century brutality." I haven't noticed Senator ...

Population piece in latest edition of Overland

Overland magazine has been going since 1954, and is one of the few remaining independent literary and cultural journals left in Australia.  I have a piece published in their most recent edition (issue #201) on the topic of population and the so-called 'Big Australia' debate.  Actually, it is sort of two pieces - both myself and Assoc Prof Mark Diesendorf were asked to provide a progressive perspective on ...

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 ...

Yungaba: Last change to see

Yungaba: Last change to see One theme which is rather common through Queensland’s history is a failure to recognise important aspects of the past or to value its built heritage.  So perhaps in a sadly ironic way, it could be seen as apt that a very historic building, and most of its grounds, are about to officially pass into the hands of developers to be turned into upmarket ...

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 ...

Having a Say on democracy – the right to vote should be for citizens only

The federal government should be commended for making such a comprehensive effort at casing so many perspectives in it consideration of electoral reform options, as well as for providing an apparently genuine effort at seeking public opinion.  The second electoral reform Green Paper released this week by Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig covers a wide terrain, canvassing many options without actually promoting any. This post from The Poll ...

Immigration detention and deportation in the USA

There is more evidence that, however unjust and dysfunctional the administration of Australia's immigration laws was in our recent past, it is being outstripped by what has been happening in the USA. There are more and more examples coming to light in the USA that have echoes of the Cornelia Rau and Vivienne Alvarez debacles of the Howard era in Australia.  The reasons these things are happening are similar ...

Trends in Coalition asylum seeker policy and global/regional refugee movements

I had an article published in the main Crikey e-newsletter today, outlining some of the trends, facts and government responses to the well over 40 million refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people around the world. It seems likely the issue of asylum seeker boat arrivals will once again be moving closer to the political centre stage in Australia, even though these currently number less than 1000 out of ...

Queensland election III

Until around nine months ago, I rarely paid much attention to state politics, apart from some specific issues. But I’ve had to engage with many aspects of it much more directly in recent times as part of one of the paid jobs I’m currently doing. I’ve probably been at more meetings and events in the last couple of weeks than I have over the previous decade where discussion ...

Things I’ve written elsewhere

Here are links to a few pieces I’ve written elsewhere. This one is a piece at New Matilda about the dangers of kneejerk suggestions that we should actively slash migration because of the looming economic downturn. And two pieces at Crikey on migrant representation in Parliament

Child executions to end in Iran?

Back in March I wrote about Nazanin Afshin-Jan, a campaigner I met at a human rights conference in Taiwan who focused a lot of her efforts on trying to bring about an end to the Iranian government’s practice of allowing the execution of children. Recent news reports suggest the efforts of Nazanin and other human rights campaigners in this area may have born some fruit, with this report quoting an Iranian ...

Greenfest, Eidfest, multicultural fest.

Last weekend it was the Love Earth Gathering. This weekend it’s the bigger and broader Greenfest, being held at Brisbane’s Southbank – starting at noon on Friday afternoon with world renowned ecologist Dr Jane Goodall.  The Piazza at Southbank will also be host to a series of other speakers across the entire weekend, covering issues from housing to energy to transport to business.  I’ll be chairing a session on the Sunday ...

Race hate candidates running in Council elections

I was interested to see this report in today's Sydney Morning Herald detailing a number of candidates contesting the upcoming local elections in Sydney's Sutherland Shire - scene of the infamous Cronulla riots three years ago - with a campaign message specifically attacking refugees and migrants. Modern day political correctness seems to require one not to use the term "racist" to describe statements that attack others on the ...

‘Liberals’ planning to adopt anti-migration position?

It is disappointing, but sadly not surprising, to see this report in the Canberra Times suggesting the Coalition is planning to adopt a more explicitly anti-migrant position. Despite all the evidence about the demographic inevitability of a shrinking labour force, growing international mobility (including record emigration from Australia) and the latest research showing the significant net economic benefit migrants create for Australia, the political temptation for the ‘Liberals’ is ...

Christmas Island detention centre inspected

After many years and hundreds of millions of dollars, the new immigration jail detention centre on Christmas Island has finally been completed – and of course stands empty.  A range of community based human rights organisations were recently able to inspect the detention centre.  This report on the Amnesty International website gives a good idea of how wasteful and inappropriate the facility is. I have always been baffled by ...

New Matilda piece on the immgration detention changes

I have had a piece published today in New Matilda on the federal government's recent changes to immgration detention. You can read it by clicking on this link.

Pacific Island worker scheme a welcome move

I am pleased to see the federal government has formally announced a trial allowing up to 2500 people from neighbouring countries of Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea to do seasonal work in Australia. In doing so, they have shown up the failure of courage and policy integrity of the previous government. The Opposition’s complaint that this proposal is “rushed” is simply false.  The idea has been debated ...

House price falls

The economic ramifications of the further fall in house prices in many parts of Australia are being widely debated. Hopefully, it will not cause any let-up in the pressure for further action to address the continuing crisis in housing affordability. Apart from anything else, these house price falls are unlikely to provide much relief for those in the private rental market, which is where the worst price pressures ...

The Migration ‘debate’

Since finishing up in the Senate, I have been trying to take the opportunity to do a range of different things, focusing on areas where I think I can be useful and/or which I find interesting or enjoyable. Apart from spending more time in pastimes like music or social cricket, and speaking at and attending events about  human rights, animal welfare and the environment, a lot of my ...


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. (more…)

  • 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.

  • 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.