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.

Road map for West Papua

I wrote a piece recently about the new Cabinet of the Indonesian government, including their new Foreign Minister Marty Natelegawa who gained his PhD at the Australian National University.  As I’ve written a number of times, Indonesia has made very impressive progress in a range of areas in recent years.  I believe one of their biggest unaddressed challenges is West Papua, which is an issue with both internal ...


Its not (just) the economy

With all the major parties focussing so heavily on economic matters once again, it can be easy to forget that there are other equally important things which also deserve major political attention. I tried campaigning on a few of these last week, albeit with not a great deal of success.

Reluctant Indonesians

Tonight I am introducing the public lecture and book signing for Dr Clinton Fernandes, author of the recently released, Reluctant Indonesians: Australia, Indonesia and the future of West Papua. I've written many times, see here , about West Papua, Indonesia and the fraught relationship with Australia and it is pleasing to see an account that outlines the history of West Papua history from colonial times to the modern day ...

The Security Treaty between Australia & Indonesia

Late last year, a security cooperation agreement between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia was signed on the Indonesian island of Lombok. As with all international agreements, this one, which has already picked up the colloquial title of the Lombok Agreement, is being examined by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. The Committee is still receiving submissions. You can read the ones which have been made public to ...

West Papuan decision shows importance of independent system

News has just come through that the 43rd and final asylum seeker who arrived from West Papua in January has had his refugee claim approved by the Refugee Review Tribunal. You could not get a simpler example of why there has to be an independent mechanism to review decisions by the government to refuse refugee claims. This is precisely what asylum seekers have not had when they have ...

Senate Committee hearings on anti-refugee legislation today

The Committee hearing into the Government's new anti-refugee legislation is being held today in Canberra. The legislation is called the Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006. I'm not sure who an 'undesignated unauthorised arrival' might be, but perhaps I'll be able to find out from the Immigration Department when they appear before us. The Bills Digest produced by the Parliamentary Library which explains the ...

Only Politically Correct Refugees Allowed

The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, has written an extraordinary piece for The Australian newspaper (which unfortunately does not appear to be online). Amazingly, after starting off saying “there needs to be increased understanding of our protection visa obligations,” she then goes on to say that “it is the Government’s strong preference that protection is not offered in Australia to Papuan separatists” – a statement which is a blatant ...

more West Papua info – UPDATED

This post contains links to a few more articles providing background on the West Papua issue. Some of them were provided in comments on previous posts, but I know not everyone follows the comments threads on these posts, so I thought I'd re-present them here. Also, for people in Melbourne on the night of Thursday 13th April (not Wednesday 12th as previously posted here), there is ...

More on West Papua

It is now 2 months since 43 asylum seekers from West Papua arrived in Far North Queensland. They were whisked away to our nation’s most remote, expensive and rudimentary detention centre on Christmas Island, and still await news on the result of their claims. The changes announced by the Prime Minster last June require an initial decision on an application within 3 months, so there should be news ...

More West Papua Updates

Some more reports from Christmas Island and West Papua that I've received through emails. The accuracy cannot be independently verified.

West Papua updates

I thought there would be a lot of mentions of the West Papuan asylum seekers on blogs around the place, but I haven't been able to find much. However, following on from my previous post, I have been receiving emails with some information about what is happening with the the asylum seekers upon their arrival on Christmas Island, and also of some events in West Papua. ...

West Papua – asylum seekers and lessons from our history

The arrival in Australia of 43 asylums seekers from West Papua not only provides a test of whether there has been any substantive culture change in the Immigration Department, it also provides the best prospect for a long time of some significant public attention being paid to what is happening in West Papua. Despite some extreme control measures put in place by DIMIA to prevent photographs or contact with ...

Make Noise on West Papua, be quieter on Schapelle

Like many people, I think Schapelle Corby has had a raw deal. I also think comments along the way from Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty have not been helpful and the assistance provided by the Australian Government has been fairly lame. However, I don't see how public attacks or antagonism towards Indonesia about the trial are going to help her at all (or many innocent Indonesians). If anything, ...

Self-determination – West Papua

Following on from my long piece on self-determination and the situation facing the Kurdish people, I thought it appropriate to briefly emphasise a situation a bit closer to home with the West Papuans. I regularly point to East Timor as an example where their aspiration for a simple act of self-determination appeared to be an impossible dream, yet persistence and determination kept it alive and freedom was eventually achieved. This ...


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.