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.

Pell and Parliamentary Privilege

Cardinal George Pell’s comments regarding the way he believed politicians who are Catholics should vote on legislation regarding stem cells got a lot of coverage in the mainstream media and on a number of blogs. Some people have suggested that the Cardinal's comments were improper interference with MPs deliberations, and even that he might be guilty of contempt of Parliament for his perceived inference that politicians who supported the ...


UK stem cell controversy over human-animal hybrids

From a public and media point of view, the cloning/stem cell debate has been and gone in Australia, with legislation allowing such research passing both houses of Parliament in December. In the months leading up to the vote in the Senate, I wrote a number of times on this blog about my thoughts, and sought the views of the public. I also got myself some negative media by ...

Summary of legislation before the Parliament this week

There will be some important pieces of legislation being debated in the Parliament this week, although the focus on the Labor Party's reshuffling means you probably won't hear much about it unless you really go looking for details. Some of the main ones include: Medibank Private Sale Bill: It's self-evident what this one is about. You can read this old post of mine for more details. Major amendments ...

Drug testing on animals

When I talk about animal welfare issues, I often feel I am running the risk that I will be accused of being more concerned about (non-human) animals than about humans. This is doubly so when I talk about the use of animals in experimentation. It was therefore irritating, although not totally surprising, that the “Hands Off Our Ovaries” group recently put out a media release saying “Senator Bartlett ...

Asking the people – another close stem cell vote

Whilst I was checking out the results of the USA Congressional elections, I also had a look at the result of what the USA often calls 'ballot measures' – that is referendum questions on a wide range of specific issues. By coincidence, the state of Missouri (also the location of one of the 2 critical undecided Senate contests) had a ballot asking people whether they supported legalizing stem cell ...

Cloning Bill passes Senate – just

Despite a general expectation that the stem cell legislation would not come to a final vote until Thursday at the earliest, the whole thing was debated, a small number of amendments considered and a final vote taken, all by 9.00pm tonight. The final vote was 34 – 32, which means if I had voted the other way, the legislation would have been defeated. (see the bottom of this ...

This week in the Senate – cloning, environment, copyright law

The Senate is the only House of Parliament sitting this week and the sole piece of legislation on the agenda is the Cloning/Stem Cell Bill. I gave my speech on the 2nd Reading stage of the Bill today, and will vote in favour of sending the Bill on for consideration in detail by the Senate. I have yet to decide how I will vote on the final ...

Stem Cell Inquiry reports

The report of the Senate Committee examining the stem cell legislation is released today, after three public hearings and nearly 500 public submissions. It is hard to know how many Senators and MPs are still undecided on the issue, but those that are will probably draw on the report for information to some extent. I was talking with someone from another party last week who assessed the Senate numbers ...

Stem Cell fest gathers pace

This fortnight is the final sitting period before the stem cell issue is debated in the Senate in early November, and the number of people giving lectures and forums seems to be growing all the time. I'm aware of four different seminars being held in Parliament House over the next few days. There's Emeritus Professor of Medicine T John Martin from Melbourne Uni, Professor of Medical Genetics Bob ...

Public forum on Stem Cells in Brisbane on Monday night

A reminder for anyone in or near Brisbane tomorrow night (Monday) who is interested in the stem cell issue – there is a public forum being held at the University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus from 6.30pm to 9pm. There are three expert scientific speakers, including the current Australian of the Year, Professor Ian Frazer, and they will each bring different perspectives to the issue. The forum has ...

Stem Cell legislation referred to Senate Committee

Things have moved to the next stage with the stem cell issue, with the Senate agreeing today to set up a Committee Inquiry into the possibility of amending the laws governing research in this area. The Inquiry is due to report back to the Senate on 27th October, and at this stage the Senate is likely to debate some legislation in the week sitting 6th November.

Stem Cells II

As I was heading into Parliament House this morning, I heard some coverage on ABC radio mentioning a briefing that was being held today with a leading researcher into adult stem cells. I am keen to hear as much factual information as possible to inform how I vote in the Senate on the upcoming legislation dealing with the regulation of embryonic stem cell research, so I was ...

Big Black Nemesis, Parthenogenesis – the Stem Cell research debate heats up

Prior to the recent media frenzy over the leadership pout between John Howard & Peter Costello, the issue of stem cell research was one that was causing some internal friction within the Liberal Party. While media attention on that issue (and other matters of dissent) faded due to the preference for leadership soap operas, the concerns were still very strong. Federal Cabinet had decided in June that there will ...

The Liberals are revolting!

The revolt by some Liberal backbenchers against the latest anti-refugee laws has led to the legislation being shelved until the parliament resumes in August. At the same time, legislation making changes to fuel tax procedures is up for debate in the Senate today, with a lot of concern that it will harm the biodiesel and ethanol industry. It is possible that Barnaby Joyce and maybe one ...


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.