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.

It was 20 years ago today.

It was 20 years ago today. On 20 November 1989, the international Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) was formally adopted.  According to Human Rights Watch, the Convention became “the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history.  Twenty years on, only two countries have failed to ratify the Convention – Somalia and the USA. In the USA, Presidential action to ratify an international treaty ...


Paedophiles part III

Following up on my previous pieces here on the controversies in Queensland surrounding Dennis Ferguson,  Jeremy Gans at Charterblog writes about the possible impact of a new piece of legislation that allows for a judge-only trial in cases where pre-trial publicity may effect jury deliberations.

Liberal Senator calls for special schools to be abolished

I was interested to read that Queensland Liberal Senator Sue Boyce has called for special schools to be abolished and children with disabilities integrated into mainstream schools

Prioritising children in child protection

There is an excellent article by Joe Tucci & Chris Goddard, examining the federal government’s discussion paper on the establishment a national framework for protecting children against abuse and neglect. It is a welcome thing that we are finally getting some national leadership on this issue. However, the article points out that the discussion paper focuses mostly on adults and families, giving little specific attention to the rights and voices ...

Paedophiles part II

The Dennis Ferguson issue continues to garner a lot of media in Queensland. As Paul Norton notes in a comment on a previous thread, the Courier-Mail has been running strongly on whether or a not a form of Megan’s Law – where the community is notified when a sex offender is living in their region – should be adopted. This is the sort of action that might make parents feel ...

There’s a child sex offender living in your community now

The revulsion felt toward child sex offenders is understandable. Indeed, it would be a worrying thing if we didn’t feel such revulsion. But the current vigilante fervour towards a now notorious convicted paedophile, Dennis Ferguson, who is lawfully living in south-east Queensland is ill-directed. This guy was chased out of the small town of Miles, north and a bit inland from Brisbane. He was moved to an area just south ...

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 ...

The final question

Pretty much everything I did this week could have had a 'last time' label attached to it - last Party Room meeting, last Committee meeting, last Whips meeting, etc. I've avoided recording all of those, as it quickly gets rather tiresome. However, I thought I'd record the last Democrat question ever asked in the Senate. Partly because of that historic significance, but also because I think it is and ...

(Belated) comment on the Henson photographs furore

The controversy surrounding the Bill Henson photographs coincided almost precisely with when this blog was offline. There has been extensive and often very interesting debate on a range of blogs, which I found more stimulating than most of what occurred in the mainstream media, which seemed to mostly reflect the extremes of the debate without much acknowledgement or engagement with the complexities of the issues raised. I had a ...


Last week, Ted Mullighan, a former Supreme Court Judge in South Australia, produced a report containing over 50 recommendations and detailing his findings from a three year long inquiry which heard evidence from hundreds of children who had been subjected to sexual abuse. Naturally, we all say how terrible this is. But as he told a National Family Law conference in Adelaide, Australians actually rate petrol prices a far bigger problem than ...

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 ...

Some impressions following my Northern Territory visit

As mentioned here, I spent most of last week in Darwin and Alice Springs, meeting with and listening to people about their views on the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. I had eleven formal meetings, plus two informal talks with people over dinner. This involved around 70 people in total. The groups included health organisations, child and family organisations, land councils, health researchers and ...

Aboriginal Children VI

Yesterday marked one month since the Prime Minister declared there was “a national emergency in relation to the abuse of children in indigenous communities in the Northern Territory,” in response to the first sentence of the first recommendation of the Little Children are Sacred report. At the time, it appeared the federal government was ignoring the second sentence of that recommendation (not to mention most of the following 96 ...

Aboriginal Children II

I have been one of many people, black and white, who have been calling on governments for a long time to make child abuse and Indigenous issues major, national priorities. As was noted in the Foreward of the recent Northern Territory Report on the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse, it was via my motion that the Senate passed an all-party resolution last year supporting a national ...

Aboriginal Children

Just before parliament rose for a six week break, the Prime Minister announced a major series of proposals to take control of Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, and significant aspects of their lives, as part of responding to the latest report on sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory – a topic I spoke on in the Senate earlier this week. Given that the report itself ...

New Zealand Parliament outlaws use of physical force on children

There’s been a significant development in New Zealand, with their Parliament passing a law which has been described as making it illegal for parents to smack their children. According to a report on the ABC website, New Zealand now “joins only a handful of European nations to legislate against the use of unreasonable force in disciplining children,” (although according to this media release from last year by the ...

A few days and a few different issues

I’ve been fairly busy the last few days on various activities which have kept me away from a computer, so I haven’t been able to post anything on this site. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the things I’ve been working on in recent days – I might expand on some of them in future posts.

David Jones does a McLibel?

A few months ago I wrote a piece on a discussion paper put out by The Australia Institue which raised the issue of the sexualising of children in advertising and marketing - a concern which I believe definitely merits debate. The major Australian retailer David Jones was named as one of those who engaged in this practice. It has now been reported that David Jones is now suing ...

Sexualising Children

The Australia Institute has just issued a report provocatively titled Corporate Paedophilia (see summary here). It examines concerns with the early sexualisation of children, particularly young girls, and the role of corporate Australia in supporting and promoting this through marketing. Emma Rush, who co-authored the report, also touches on aspects such as sales and peer pressure in a piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. The various commercial outlets criticised in ...

Child protection should be a national priority

Reading some of the reports of the latest massive failures by state agencies responsible for child protection is very distressing. See these media articles for examples: "Why won't you protect the children, Premier?" in the West Australian "Children in protective care beaten, starved" in The Australian "Child abuse, neglect at critical level" by AAP (through SMH website) I know this is an area where very fraught judgements have to be made, and ...


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.